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After all the scrutiny of Wayne Rooney, the difficulties of an unforgiving transfer market and the insecurity that change can something bring, there must be something calmly reassuring for Manchester United and their new manager, David Moyes, that Robin van Persie has slipped seamlessly back into where he left off last season – scoring goals, winning football matches and demonstrating, with great finesse, the art of centre-forward play.

The man who scored 30 goals in his first season as an Old Trafford player will not be allowed to carry the two he managed here into the new season because the Football Association does not regard it as an official fixture. He has, however, delivered another reminder of his gifts, and a timely one, too, given the complications that have confronted Moyes in his first summer in the job and the negativity surrounding Rooney’s ongoing attempts to cut himself free.

Van Persie needed only six minutes to lift some of the foreboding with the expertly taken header that put United on the way to winning this trophy for a 20th time. His second arrived just before the hour, at the first point of the match when they were starting to look a little vulnerable, and though it took a deflection on the way from James Perch it is also true Wembley held its breath in anticipation as soon as Van Persie collected the ball and then turned inside, with the clear intention of letting fly with that elegant left boot.

This is the sight that excites United’s supporters more than any other these days. It is also the sight opposition defenders must dread the most.

On this form, it is clear why Rooney has a few misgivings about his position in the rank of strikers at Old Trafford these days. Van Persie was not always prominently involved on a day when his team-mates had plenty of the ball but collectively did not always do a great deal with it. His contribution, however, was still decisive, from the moment he launched himself off the ground to meet Patrice Evra’s left-wing cross, applying power and precision and sending the ball just inside Scott Carson’s right-hand post.

Level with the penalty spot, Van Persie was in the territory that would ordinarily be considered too far out to score with a header. Yet the timing of the run, having sprayed the ball out to Evra in the first place, then the leverage and ability, mid-air, to pick out his spot, was wonderful.

It was a lacklustre performance at times from United and, after such an encouraging start, probably a surprise to some extent that the Premier League champions did not emphasise the gulf in status between the two clubs more emphatically.

Yet they did play with a sense of control against willing but limited opponents. Michael Carrick dictated the tempo and Ryan Giggs, now into his 24th season, gave a distinguished performance in a more advanced position than usual, playing just behind Van Persie.

Wigan, now of the Championship, are going through an experimental time, with a new manager of their own and a host of different players. Owen Coyle’s team will look back on a couple of reasonable chances at 1-0, most notably for James McClean and Emmerson Boyce towards the first half, but they struggled on the whole to find the fluency for which they have become known. More than anything, they did not seem to have the same belief they could cause an upset that was evident against Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

The disappointment for Moyes will be the hamstring injury that meant Rafael da Silva featured only for the first quarter an hour. Wilfried Zaha was also limping when he left the pitch in the second half. Zaha had been precisely what you would probably expect: eager to get on the ball, showy and unpredictable with some crowd-pleasing tricks and fast, direct running, but a player who can also be frustrating, rough round the edges and needing work.

He went off shortly after Van Persie’s second goal had prompted a spate of substitutions from both teams. Evra was involved in the goal again, the ball being worked left to right via Tom Cleverley and Daniel Welbeck until Van Persie latched on to it and immediately set about working a better angle to take aim. His effort flicked off Perch and, unofficial or not, Moyes will have enjoyed getting his hands on a trophy.

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