It was a defiant show of unity in the face of adversity and evidence Moyes can inspire the same sort of siege mentality his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson invoked whenever a crisis needed to be averted.

For Rooney this was a timely display of the bond between manager and players that is arguably even more significant than United’s hard-fought victory.

It was if anyone needed per­suading evidence that United's players understand the unique pressure on their new manager and a sign they want him to succeed. Most of all it indicated that Moyes is getting to grips with the dressing room as well as the unenviable task of succeeding a Knight of the Realm.

“I think that’s what we needed to get the three points and to show a bit of character as a team” said Rooney who is adamant he will be fit for England duty this week despite taking a knock on his shin against Sunderland. “A win like this can turn things around. I think us as players know we haven’t been good enough. A new manager has come in and we haven’t been good enough for him.

“Obviously the manager is under a bit of pressure but we know as a team it’s us who have let him down. We have to pull together for the manager and show the sort of fight we have done here and we’ll be fine. This will be a transition season because it’s a new manager with different styles and we have to adapt to them. More importantly we need to do better for him than we have been.”

A fortnight ago Sunderland players deposed their manager Paolo Di Canio following a dressing-room mutiny so Rooney could not have chosen a better venue to display ­United’s solidarity.

The victory here helped too. After back-to-back Premier League defeats condemned United to their worst start to a season in 24 years this was an ideal response. Sunderland may be bottom of the league and winless but their performance would have been good enough to beat most sides in the division.

United were outplayed in the first half Sunderland’s tenacity epitomised by their midfield general Lee Cattermole their threat in attack illustrated by the energy of Italian forward Emanuel Giaccherini. Had David De Gea not clawed away a Giaccherini header after Craig Gardner had given Sunderland the lead United may well have lost this match.

“David’s save was one of the best I have ever seen” Moyes said. “It was an incredible save and I said it straight away to the bench. It was amazing it really was. That was a turning point. I didn’t think we deserved to be losing but if we had gone 2-0 down it would have left us with a mountain to climb and would have given Sunderland a great boost.”

Instead as Sunderland tired in the second half United reminded us why they have been so successful. The fightback was controlled but they forced their will on the game scored twice and then shut down Sunderland’s offence.

Their two goals came from the boot of the 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj whose performance on his first Premier League start must rank alongside the very best United debutants. Even before he scored – the first a side-footed finish from a Patrice Evra cross the second a phenomenal volley from the edge of the area – Januzaj had been United’s best player. A new hope from the Academy to go with fresh hope Ferguson’s retirement will not cause United’s empire to crumble.

Moyes’s only cause for concern was Marouane Fellaini who on Monday will have an X-ray on a wrist injury that could rule the midfielder out for up to a month.