MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised Paul Scholes after the evergreen midfielder masterminded a nonchalant dissection of Newcastle.
Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Fletcher and substitute Ryan Giggs enjoyed goal-scoring glory as United began their Premier League campaign in ominous fashion.
But it was 35-year-old Scholes who orchestrated wave after wave of attacks from the home side, setting up both Berbatov and Giggs to beat Steve Harper.
“Scholes showed at his age, you don’t lose what he’s got: passing, vision, and he’s still got a good appetite for the game,” said Ferguson.
“The game always needs players like that who can lift the game to a different level and lift spectators’ hopes. He looks after himself and that’s important. Last year was his first without injury for a long time.”
Berbatov looked menacing and Ferguson called his performance “excellent”, while admitting the Bulgarian forward should have added to his low, diagonal 33rd-minute strike, which came from a Scholes through-ball.
Giggs was the other veteran to shine, climbing off the bench to meet Scholes’s floated pass with a downward left-foot volley that arrowed into Harper’s far corner. That 85th-minute goal made Giggs the only player to have netted in all 19 Premier League seasons, and saw him overtake Bryan Robson as the club’s oldest scorer in the competition.
Fletcher was the other man to pierce the visitors’ rearguard, the Scotland midfielder turning and rifling home a loose ball after Wayne Rooney diverted a Patrice Evra cross goal-wards just before half-time.
There was little sign of Rooney doing likewise, however, and the England star was withdrawn after an hour, having extended his goal drought for club and country to a personal record 13 games.