David Moyes first game at Old Trafford as Manchester United manager was headlined not by the result but by the performance of the most talked about United player this summer: Wayne Rooney. The England striker produced in my eyes a man of the match performance against the team who were thought to be close to capturing him this summer.
Over the course of the day, many fans have been asking the same question. Will Wayne Rooney play or won’t he? The answer to that question was yes; as Rooney started for United for the first time this season. Jose Mourinho started the game without a typical centre forward as Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Romain Lukaku all missed out on starting at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney started the game with full intentions on helping United gain victory in David Moyes first game in charge of the Red Devils at Old Trafford as he would run and chase after the ball and not allow Chelsea any time on the ball; each time Rooney was involved in play both sets of fans would chant his name; as his future is still unknown for now.
It was Chelsea who had the first attempt on goal as Brazilian Oscar latched onto Kevin De Bruyne’s low cross but his shot was fired straight at United goalkeeper David De Gea. The game was tight in the opening twenty minutes with that Oscar effort the only major talking point of the game; both teams cancelled each other out every attack with both defences looking solid. By the way the game was playing out, it seemed only one goal could seal the fate of the contest. Eventually it was the away side that again seemed to be creating the chances as again Kevin De Bruyne and Oscar linked up but the Brazilian’s curling effort with the outside of his foot dragged wide of the goal.
Manchester United then created their first attempt on twenty two minutes as Carrick intercepted the ball and played it to Van Persie, whose first touch seemed to drag the ball to wide to make any decent effort but his shot, which was deflected slightly, violently smacked the side netting, showing the quality the Dutchman can use when given the space. Man United then dominated the next five or so minutes, constantly moving towards the Chelsea goal although the team in red couldn’t produce the end product to create any sort of attempt at Petr Cech’s goal. Eventually the Red Devils gave the Chelsea keeper something to do as Wayne Rooney’s tame effort was pounced on by the Czech Republic goalkeeper. Rooney was by far the most energetic player on the pitch, who looked up for a match against his most likely destination should he still decide to move on.
Again it was United piling on the pressure on the Chelsea defence and after good build up play, a cross from Phil Jones down the right found its way to Tom Cleverley but his shot was always rising into the stands above the net. United ended the first half on the front foot like they had been for the last twenty minutes of the half, although Chelsea had the final attempt of the half as once again Oscar had a shot from just outside the area but his shot was weak and straight at De Gea. For the visitors improvement on the ball was required in the second half, where as United just needed to find that end product in front of goal. Half time 0-0.
The second half started similarly to how the first played out; United pursuing towards the Chelsea goal only to fail to make any attempt or shot. Ten minutes into the second half Man United had the first real attempt of the half as Danny Welbeck gathered the ball on the left but blasted the ball over the bar as he came infield, similarly a couple of minutes later the England international was fed through by Rooney into the Chelsea box but he again hit his shot over the crossbar, squandering the best opportunity of the match at the time.
Chelsea eventually clicked into action after the Welbeck attempts and after good build up play, the ball found its way to Gary Cahill and from long range, the centre back released a pile driver which forced De Gea into a save. Then Andre Schϋller hit the crossbar after Patrice Evra was caught up field but the German was deemed offside. Mourinho decided the system then needed to change in order to push for the win so replaced Kevin De Bruyne with Fernando Torres.
Just past the hour mark, Tom Cleverly smashed a shot into Frank Lampard, who had his arms in front of his body as Old Trafford screamed for a handball; however referee Martin Atkinson straight away refused to give in to the Manchester United support. Wayne Rooney, still looking as sharp as the first minute had a shot at Cech but the Chelsea stopper kept the shot out with ease.
With twenty minutes remaining, it was Chelsea’s turn to claim for a spot kick as Ashley Cole felt he was pulled back in the 18 yard box by Phil Jones, but Atkinson again refused to point for a penalty. The fact it took Chelsea seventy four minutes to gain their first corner made it clear they hadn’t been able to break down the Man United backline.
On seventy five minutes the stadium watched and gave Wayne Rooney a standing ovation after the United number ten ran down the line to commit into a sliding tackle with Ramires, one in which he won the ball clearly and kept it in before producing a pass up the pitch to Van Persie, and then Rooney forced Cech into a save which a fierce shot.
Man United were close to snatching it on 87 minutes as Van Persie smashed a volley into Jon Obi Mikel but the ref again didn’t give a penalty and Evra followed up with a shot which went wide.
As Martin Atkinson blew time on a close encounter where both defences were solid the game finished goalless. For Mourinho, perhaps he gained what he set out to get, for Moyes it was a satisfying start to his Old Trafford reign with the performance of Wayne Rooney one which could only please the Red Devils boss, and perhaps the so called bid from Chelsea may not be needed as Rooney may have finally found his feet again at Old Trafford.