Manchester United vs Everton match report: Wayne Rooney's testimonial ends in unremarkable goalless draw
New chapters in the careers of two of the most dominant personalities in recent Premier League history opened at Old Trafford on Wednesday as Wayne Rooney marked his 12-year Manchester United career with a goalless testimonial draw against his former club Everton.
For Jose Mourinho, an otherwise unremarkable friendly marked his first game at Old Trafford in charge of the club he believes he was long destined to manage.
For Rooney, 30, here were the first tentative steps under his fourth club manager in five seasons and the continuation of a potentially exciting fledgling partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Indeed, while United supporters responded with proper warmth and appreciation to Rooney on a night in which the player’s favourite charities will benefit to the tune of a reported £5 million, there was no doubt which United man was the star attraction.
The comparisons between Ibrahimovic and Eric Cantona have been obvious and oft-made since his summer signing from PSG and there is little doubt that the Swede’s sheer weight of personality and charisma could make him an instant success at Old Trafford.
First, of course, Ibrahimovic must produce on the field, early signs on his friendly debut against Galatasary at the weekend having been more than promising after he scored within four minutes of kick-off.
Ibrahimovic is destined for the lone striker task; Rooney, for the time being, is the logical number 10, playing behind the tall, rangy Swede in the centre of a three-man midfield bank.
This understandably lacklustre contest offered little concrete evidence as to the effectiveness or otherwise of that potential pairing although there were certainly glimpses that breathed life into a relatively dormant crowd.
On 25 minutes, the England captain slipped through a pass which Ibrahimovic took in his stride and saw parried by Maarten Stekelenburg before, later in the half, Rooney’s hanging, long cross was controlled superbly on his chest by the United number nine with the Everton keeper responding quickly to save.
When Mourinho began his wholesale changes, six replacements coming on at the interval, Rooney and Ibrahimovic were two of the five players to remain in play, an indication of their manager’s desire to see that particular pairing click.
Wayne Rooney – career in pictures
Breakthrough goal – 2002
Five days before his 17th birthday, Wayne Rooney scored a wonder goal against Arsenal in 2002 as the world realised his talent.
Switch to United – 2004
A £25.6m fee was soon agreed with Manchester United – despite interest from Newcastle – as Rooney switched Goodison Park for Old Trafford in 2004.
On the international stage – 2004
It got better for the powerful striker when he scored four goals in as many matches at Euro 2004.
The stunning goals continue – 2005
It wasn’t long before Rooney had become a mainstay in Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side, typified by his olley against Newcastle at Old Trafford.
The red mist descends – 2006
Always a cantankerous player, Rooney’s demons haunted him at the 2006 World Cup in Germany as he was sent off for a stamp against Portugal.
First of many titles – 2007
Rooney had to wait until 2007 for his first taste of Premier League glory, scoring 14 goals as United lifted the title in 2008.
European glory – 2008
A year later, Rooney was invaluable to Ferguson again as the north west outfit defeated Chelsea in Moscow on penalties to win the Champions League.
Controversy returns – 2010
As England struggled to a 0-0 draw against Algeria in South Africa, the former Everton striker told supporters exactly what he thought about them into camera.
World Cup woe – 2012
Despite finally scoring for England at a World Cup in 2014, Rooney was unable to prevent a torrid group stage exit under Roy Hodgson in Brazil.
Contract talks – 2012
Rooney twice risked incurring the wrath of Ferguson during their time together, famously truning down a contract offer and threatening to leave until better terms were presented.
Success continues – 2013
In Ferguson’s final season in charge, Rooney helped lift another Premier League title in 2013 alongside strike partner Robin van Persie.
Record breaker – 2015
In 2015, Rooney broke Sir Bobby Charlton’s England goalscoring record with his 50th international goal from a penalty in a Euro 2016 qualifying match against Switzerland.
Switch to midfield – 2016
As Rooney began to age, then-United manager Louis van Gaal switched Rooney into midfielder where he helped the club lift the FA Cup in the Dutchman’s last game in charge.
However, eight minutes into the second half, Rooney gave way to Marcus Rashford, a substitution that allowed the veteran to bask in an appreciative ovation from the home crowd, and with Rashford more advanced than Rooney had been, Mourinho’s United suddenly switched from 4–2-3-1 to 4-4-2.
Thereafter, Kevin Mirallas wasted the best chance of the night for Everton but, otherwise, the evening belonged to Rooney, a player who has enjoyed and endured a complicated relationship with United supporters, not least because of what have been perceived as two attempts to leave the club in recent years.
Considering he should usurp Sir Bobby Charlton as United’s leading goalscorer of all time some time before Christmas, Rooney has not always been regarded with unreserved warmth around these parts although his agent Paul Stretford used the day to stress his player would like to see out his career at the club.
“Wayne has gone public in stating that he intends to see out his current contract,” said Stretford. “Should Man United make it clear they want him to stay beyond, I think we’ll be sitting down very quickly and ensuring that will happen.”
For Mourinho, his preparations for Sunday’s Community Shield meeting with champions Leicester, their last game before the Premier League season kicks off at Bournemouth a week on Sunday, may yet be interrupted by the long-awaited arrival of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.
“We are going to sign one more player, that’s for sure,” said Mourinho. “I don’t want to speak about Paul because he is a Juventus player and I don’t like other managers speaking about my players. I don’t speak about their players but the reality is we are going to sign one more player.
“The market closes as you know on August 31 so we have plenty of time to do that but obviously I would like to do it before the Premier League starts.”