Before kick off United honoured their boss by naming the North Stand after him also revealing that a statue will be built and unveiled before the start of next season. However despite the sides built under Ferguson beaching synonymous for free flowing, attacking football his current crop failed to serve up a performance to fit the occasion with the party atmosphere prior to kick off appearing more deflated at the final whistle. In their first match at home since the derby day humiliation suffered at the hands of neighbours City the class of 2011/12 struggled to overcome a Sunderland side managed by Ferguson’s former captain Steve Bruce. The Black Cats boss was an instrumental part of the Scot’s sides in the early nineties skippering the side to their first Premier League title back in 1993. Since venturing into management Bruce has failed to gain the upper hand on his mentor in 18 managerial meetings now and will be disappointed that his side didn’t travel back to the North East with at least a point.
The first half was a particularly dour affair that was bereft of any incident before Brown’s own goal in first half stoppage time. Sunderland did suffer a major blow in the early stages with 18-year-old striker Connor Wickham stretchered off. The £8 million summer signing from Ipswich fell awkwardly onto his knee and had to be carried off. That was as exciting as it got before ex-Red Devil Brown unwittingly diverted Danny Wellbeck’s header past Kieron Westwood after Nani’s corner. United took the upper hand in the second half and should have doubled their lead in the 64th minute through Javier Hernandez. The Mexican did superbly to meet another Nani corner only to see the ball hacked off the line by Kieron Richardson. Sunderland also had opportunities and thought they had a chance to equalise after Ji Dong Wong won an aerial challenge in the penalty area. Assistant referee Jake Collin signalled for a penalty only for his superior Lee Mason to award a free kick for handball against the Korean much to the annoyance of Bruce.
It was United who continued to create chances with Wayne Rooney denied brilliant by full debutant Westwood who sprang to his feet to keep out Patrice Evra’s followup. The visitors were far from out of it though and after an extended spell of possession went close to levelling proceedings only for Nicklas Bendtner to narrowly miss out on getting a touch on Sebastian Larsson’s whipped delivery. It was all Bruce’s side could muster to hand Ferguson the perfect present on his Silver anniversary as boss.