MANCHESTER: Wayne Rooney demonstrated precisely why Manchester United do not want to sell him and exactly why Chelsea want to buy him as his talent shone out far above the gloom of their Premier League goalless draw at Old Trafford.
Rooney was United’s most active attacker but worked vigorously but in midfield and even defence to erase any doubts about his footballing commitment every time he crosses the white line. But, overall, the high-tension nature of the fixture appeared to have come too soon in the nascent season for both teams.
That mattered a little more to champions United since Chelsea will be able to look back on a point earned at Old Trafford, an achievement likely to prove beyond almost anyone this season.
Kickoff was preceded by a one-minute’s applause to honour the memories of former United players Brian Greenhoff, Ron Davies and Jack Crompton who had all died during the summer. Then it was back uptodate for today’s heroes to take centre stage.
United manager David Moyes marked his first home league match as United manager by starting with Rooney against the club who had twice bid to buy him during the summer.
Rooney’s inclusion was United’s only change from the team who had opened the campaign by winning at Swansea while Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho made two changes from the side who had won last midweek against Aston Villa. Andreas Schurrle started up front, rather than Fernando Torres.
The opening exchanges were energetic – with Rooney as busy as anyone – but no clear openings. The only shot with any menace was a ninth-minute jab from Oscar which was saved comfortably by United keeper David De Gea. At the other end, later, Tom Cleverley shot high and wide and the teams reached half-time goalless.
Danny Welbeck lofted over the bar early in the second half and United also had a shout for a penalty ignored by referee Martin Atkinson after Cleverley drive was blocked by the body of Frank Lampard.
Chelsea made the first attempt to change the balance of the game by introducing Fernando Torres midway through the second half while United countered by sending on Ashley Young.
The changes all proved in vain. Mourinho could thus maintain due pride in his own personal record of taking teams to Old Trafford: he has lost only twice on eight visits.
As Lampard said afterwards: “It was tense out there. No-one wanted to lose. We tried hard not to let them through and they tried hard to stop us.”