Wayne Rooney was hailed as Manchester United's answer to Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini after his superb man-of-the-match display against Birmingham.
Rooney proved he has what it takes to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo with United's winner - and then received the ultimate accolade from Birmingham boss Alex McLeish.
"Rooney dips into all the little pockets, which makes him so hard to pin down," said McLeish. "He's a natural footballer, like Zidane and Platini."
Although United laboured to victory as they began the defence of their title, Rooney was their star man, scoring in the 34th minute to cap an all-action display.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson heaped praise on his star striker and said: "Wayne is off to a flying start and he took his goal well.
"With his goal in the Community Shield last week, hopefully he's on the road to getting a significant total for us this season.
"He's capable of getting more than 20 goals for us. We're not asking the impossible from the boy and hopefully he'll do that."