United deserve to be top, says happy Ferguson

Manchester: Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United have earned the right to lead the Premier League table because they have had a tougher start to the season.

The champions had already beaten Tottenham and Arsenal before the 5-0 win at Bolton kept them ahead of rivals Manchester City, who have faced Swansea, Bolton, Tottenham and Wigan so far.

United have now scored 18 goals in their four opening league games and Wayne Rooney`s second consecutive hat-trick, and a brace by Javier Hernandez, sees them lead the table on goal difference.

It means Ferguson’s side will approach next Sunday`s visit of Chelsea in an excellent frame of mind, and the Old Trafford boss knows a win against Andre Villas-Boas` team will leave United in good shape as they enter another autumn of domestic and European action.

"You just have to concentrate on yourselves," said Ferguson.

"It`s a difficult start to the season, we`ve got all the bigger names. We`ve got Chelsea next Sunday. It`s a hectic start and if we come through it, we`ll have done well."

It was an afternoon where the old guard shone alongside a new generation of stars as Rooney combined brilliantly with Hernandez and summer signing Phil Jones.

Ferguson fielded an arguably stronger line-up than the one that hammered Arsenal at Old Trafford in their last match before the international break.

Mexican Hernandez returned to partner Rooney in place of Danny Welbeck, while Rio Ferdinand replaced Chris Smalling in the centre of defence.

The architect of this latest victory, perhaps even more so than Rooney, was Nani. His hat-trick of assists, and two more from the impressive Jones, was as much a part of this triumph as the fine finishing of Rooney and Hernandez.

The England striker claimed United should have scored even more at the Reebok Stadium.

"We got an early goal and kicked on from there and it could have been more. It’s my first start with Javier this season and with both of us scoring, that’s great," said Rooney.

"I had a long time to rest and get a good pre-season under my belt. I`ve stayed free of injuries and it`s helped me for the start of the campaign."

For the first goal, Rooney found Nani on the right and the Portuguese crossed into the six-yard box where Hernandez arrived and beat Jussi Jaaskelainen at the near post.

United were immediately forced into a change when Tom Cleverley limped off with a suspected broken left foot, and was replaced by Michael Carrick.

United edged further ahead when Phil Jones exchanged passes with Nani after a throw-in and Rooney finished the cross after reaching the ball ahead of Gary Cahill and Dedryck Boyata.

Then in the 25th minute, United made it three. Former Blackburn midfielder Jones was involved again as he raced through home defence unchallenged.

He evaded Zat Knight`s attempted block before seeing his shot saved by Jaaskelainen’s legs. But Rooney was on hand to tap in the rebound. Hernandez thought he had added a fourth, only to see it ruled out by the referee`s assistant for offside.

He did, however, make it four in the 59th minute following good work from Nani. The winger weaved into the box and teed up Carrick, and the former Spurs midfielder saw his shot blocked and run loose into the path of the Mexican, who pounced once again.

Nine minutes later, the job was complete when Rooney completed his second hat-trick in as many Premier League games with a right-footed strike after more creative magic by Nani.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle was left bemoaning his side’s failure to contain United, despite his belief that the 5-0 scoreline flattered the champions.

Coyle, more perhaps than anyone, knows the respective strengths of the two Manchester clubs, having fallen to defeat against both clubs even at this early stage of the season.

"They are both terrific teams. Manchester City have spent £300 million," he said.

"Manchester United have spent enormous sums of money as well. The form they are in just now, both sides, make them pleasing on the eye and they are scoring lots of goals.”

"I don’t think there’s any doubt they were ruthless and clinical. In fact, you can use all the superlatives you want."

Bureau Report

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