LATICS slumped to a miserable defeat at the DW Stadium despite having two clear-cut chances in the first half to take the lead.
Two first-half saves were responsible for United having a half-time lead at the DW Stadium when they could easily have been behind.
A poor back-pass from Paul Scholes presented Victor Moses with the first opportunity.
Moses strode into the United box with only Edwin Van der Sar to beat. He failed, blasting his shot against his imposing opponent’s chest.
That was when the contest was still goalless. Within seconds of United’s opener, Wigan were in again.
This time Moses was the provider, drilling a low cross to the far post where the combative James McCarthy was on his own six yards out.
Again, only Van der Sar stood between Wigan and the net. Once more he came out on top.
That Javier Hernandez had scored in between only added to the Latics’ frustrations.
The Mexican, preferred to Dimitar Berbatov, tends not to look as dangerous when starting games.
He clearly knows how to find space, though. And, having once been denied by Ali Al Habsi after streaking clean through, the Mexican wriggled into enough space to steer home Nani’s 17th-minute cross.
It was tough luck on Wigan, who were the better side, frustrating Scholes and Wayne Rooney in particular.
That Scholes avoided a booking for clattering into the back of McCarthy was a mystery to everyone but referee Mark Clattenburg.
Rooney had earlier caught the midfielder on the back of the head with his elbow.
The Wigan fans were incensed. Rooney pleaded his innocence. TV replays were inconclusive.
Before the half had ended, Rooney had needlessly got himself involved in a shoving match with Antolin Alcaraz and still looked ill at ease in the second period even though United played with far more poise.
They were forced to survive another near thing for Wigan before they took command, though.
This time, Van der Sar needed agility rather than reactions to deny Maynor Figueroa.
Nani came close to doubling the visitors’ lead when he thrashed a fierce shot into the side-netting, not long after he had been repelled by Ali Al Habsi’s firm one-handed save.
Ferguson made comparisons between Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo earlier this week.
United’s current Portugal winger is certainly a major attacking threat and Al Habsi repelled him with the first part of a double save, when he also denied Darren Fletcher, who had been set up by Rooney.
The England man may still be struggling for goals himself but he remains an excellent source of them.
After failing to convert a close range header, Rooney collected Hernandez’s knock-down, then fed the Mexican with a delicately weighted pass.
Clean though, the Mexican found the bottom corner with ease.
Victory assured, a Rooney tap-in from Berbatov’s square ball, followed by Fabio’s close-range finish, his first United goal, merely rubbed Wigan’s noses in it at the start of an eight-day period when, one senses, the strength of their title credentials will be discovered once and for all.
Wigan Al Habsi, Gohouri, Gary Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa,Watson (Gomez 89), Diame, N’Zogbia (McArthur 89), McCarthy,Moses (Di Santo 64), Rodallega.
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Thomas, Steven Caldwell, Lopez.
Man Utd Van der Sar, O’Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher,Carrick, Scholes (Gibson 77), Nani (Fabio Da Silva 85),Hernandez (Berbatov 76), Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Brown, Rafael Da Silva, King.
Goals: Hernandez 17, 74, Rooney 84, Fabio Da Silva 87.
Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).