New Manchester United manager David Moyes put a testing pre-season behind him as his side beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 in the Community Shield at a sun-soaked Wembley in London on Sunday.
The successor to the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson had to endure transfer market frustration and speculation surrounding the future of Wayne Rooney during a disappointing run of two wins in seven friendly games.
His luck changed in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season, though, as Robin van Persie scored a goal in each half to give Moyes his first piece of silverware at the helm of the English giants.
“I class that as another piece of silverware for Sir Alex really. I was in charge today, but the ones going forward will be down to me,” Moyes said.
The 50-year-old Scot’s attention will now turn to next Sunday’s Premier League opener at Swansea City.
Michael Carrick, United’s man of the match, heralded his side’s improvement, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: “We looked a lot better today.”
“We were in control of the game and we felt we could score,” he said.
Meanwhile, three months on from their shock win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final, Wigan showed enough quality to suggest they are well-placed to bounce back from relegation at the first attempt.
“All in all, we’re disappointed to lose the game, but in spells we showed we could play,” Wigan manager Owen Coyle said. “We’ll take lessons from today — there’s one or two things we can learn from — and move forward.”
For his first official outing in the United dugout, Moyes aligned his new charges in a fluid 4-3-3 formation in which the peerless Ryan Giggs, now a player-coach, was the most advanced central midfielder.
Van Persie led the line, dovetailing with Danny Welbeck, and it took the Dutchman, scorer of 30 goals last season, just six minutes to open his account for 2013-2014.
He sprayed a pass wide to Patrice Evra on the left and with Giggs’ run distracting the Wigan defense, Van Persie had time and space to direct a firm header into the bottom-left corner from the Frenchman’s cross.
Leon Barnett had to be alert to prevent Welbeck from making it 2-0 from debutant Wilfried Zaha’s low center, but United received a setback in the 16th minute when Rafael had to hobble off with an injury.
Chris Smalling came on, but almost made a disastrous start when he let Stephen Crainey’s hopeful chipped pass bounce over him, which enabled Wigan debutant James McClean to drill a cross across the box.
Welbeck worked Wigan goalkeeper Scott Carson after a neat turn and shot, but Coyle’s side finished the half strongly, with Barnett unable to keep his header down after Emmerson Boyce turned Ben Watson’s free-kick back across goal.
There was little spark to United’s play, but in the 59th minute they took the game beyond Wigan with a second goal.
A patient move culminated in Welbeck slipping a pass to Van Persie on the edge of the box and the former Arsenal man shifted the ball onto his left foot, before dispatching a shot that struck James Perch to leave Carson wrong-footed.
Zaha departed soon after, following an enterprising if rough-edged display, while Giggs was granted a standing ovation, as well as a round of applause from Moyes, as he made way for Anderson.
Belatedly, United turned on the style, Barnett sliding in to clear an Evra cross following a slick one-touch move and while there were no further goals, Moyes had already passed his first test.