Wayne Rooney was back for Manchester United against Chelsea in the 0-0 draw
Manchester United drew 0-0 with Chelsea at Old Trafford, the first draw at home in the league since the 1-1 in 2003/04 and the first 0-0 since the 1994/95 campaign, as Wayne Rooney returned to the starting line up. Jose Mourinho made a significant change and started the game without a recognised forward. There were penalty claims for both sides, whilst Tom Cleverley impressed in the centre of the park. Neither side had a clear cut chance, although Danny Welbeck’s wild swing was probably the closest anyone came to scoring.
Here we discuss the talking points and welcome comments from both sets of fans.
Wayne Rooney returns
United’s number ten returned to the fold following a summer of discontent, rumour combined with ‘anger and confusion’. Despite the fact that it had looked like Rooney had played his last game for United, there were still many Reds who were wondering pre kick off whether or not the club’s fourth all time top goalscorer would line up behind Robin van Persie. Sure enough, David Moyes picked him and he wasn’t let down.
Rooney can sometimes start a season quite sluggish, lacking match fitness and looking slow to react when in possession. His performance at Everton on the opening day of last season backed this up, with United’s number ten looking out of shape. Fast forward twelve months and Rooney looked a player hungry to play, or was it to impress? Sure enough, when he was on the ball he looked sharp and was dropping deep to try and influence play, disrupting the holding duo of Lampard and Ramires.
He was unlucky not to get a side footed lift of the football in the first half, only to limply pass the ball back into the arms of Petr Cech following an exquisite turn in the Chelsea area. As the game went on, his confidence grew – shooting from thirty yards when perhaps, the ball to Robin van Persie was the better option. His doggedness to defend was all too evident as he disposed the Brazilian midfielder Ramires right in front of the travelling Chelsea fans. It was he who also played in Danny Welbeck for arguably the best chance of the game.
Jose Mourinho’s comments today speak volumes regarding Rooney’s apparent desire to leave Old Trafford for the London club. Mourinho’s comments appear of a man frustrated that his pursuit of Rooney has not yet resulted in the forward declaring, publicly, that he wanted the move.
Many fans suggested the simplistic notion, that the club should indeed sell Rooney to a foreign club rather than Chelsea. As a foreign buyer was not forthcoming, Chelsea was the only option. Having signed Robin van Persie from rivals Arsenal last season, United know all too well what impact that can have on the title race.
Reports today suggest that Wayne Rooney will remain at Old Trafford, despite there still being a week to run in the transfer window. Sometimes you do need a change in your life, but for now – it appears that Wayne Rooney is very much part of David Moyes’ plans, even in the midst of Mourinho ultimatum.
Should Manchester United have cashed in on Wayne Rooney or has he more to offer?
Long passes, strikerless and counter attacking Chelsea
Jose Mourinho is a genius of a manager. He makes his sides very hard to breakdown, which have resulted in him winning titles in many different countries, an unprecedented treble in 2010 with Inter Milan and of course, two Champions League titles. I believe most fans raised an eyebrow at the news that the three main strikes, Torres, Ba and Lukaku, would be on the bench, and he would opt for the nimble and speedy German Andre Schurrle. There was even talk that the exceptionally gifted Belgian Eden Hazard would operate through the centre, attempting to drag Vidic and Ferdinand out of position for galloping midfielders to make runs in behind.
Hazard started out left and it was obvious he was to try and exploit United’s right back Phil Jones, in place of the injured Rafael. Chelsea did attempt to counter attack with balls over the top for Schurrle to run onto but the centre back pairing rarely looked troubled, with Chelsea never rarely troubling David De Gea in the goal. This of course could be said for United’s assault on Cech’s goal, with the Chelsea goalkeeper having a much more quieter evening than in previous ties.
Mourinho’s objective was obvious, don’t lose the match. John Terry was excellent in the centre of defence, whilst there was never any real space for United to run in behind. Chelsea’s game plan obviously limited their attacking options, but Hazard is a real talent who has exceptional balance when gliding across the turf. It appears that Chelsea’s pursuit of Rooney is fading and whilst there are rumours of Samuel Eto’o reuniting with his old mentor, Mourinho will no doubt want even more ‘mobility’ up front.
Do you think Chelsea were negative or do the game plan work a treat?
David Moyes today spoke of today of clarification on the handball rule, as Manchester United were denied a penalty in the second half. Tom Cleverley’s shot struck Frank Lampard’s arm, but Martin Atkinson ignored the cries from the United fans. The Manchester United manager was quick to defend Atkinson, but did imply that there is confusion from everyone over judging what actually is handball:
“It’s a situation where the referees are not sure judging what is handball and what isn’t. I think the referee had a good game, but I don’t think the managers are quite sure either.”
Looking at a still from the game, the ball clearly hits Lampard’s arm but it could be argued that Chelsea’s record scorer was still extremely narrow and didn’t appear to stretch his arm out. As Moyes’ comments suggest, its all about interpretation.
Do you think it was a penalty or not?
Its hard to argue against it not being a fair result. Chances were limited throughout a match that neither side wanted to lose. Both sets of centre halves were excellent with neither side ever looking really stretched. Moyes’ decision to include Wayne Rooney within the starting line up proved the right call, despite concerns that the player might not be match fit. Rooney was lively, along with Tom Cleverley who was energetic all evening, closing down the opposing midfielders and getting on the ball as much as he could. Antonio Valencia’s delivery is still disappointing, with a great attacking chance squandered right before his withdrawal. The Ecuadorian winger has an abundance of talent but will need to find a lot more composure in the attacking third if he is to find that form of a few season ago.
Danny Welbeck’s sublime performance in the 4-1 win over Swansea was through a central role. With Rooney back in the fold, the United youngster will no doubt find himself on the left side of a 4-2-3-1, as he did against Chelsea. It was in fact Welbeck who had a superb chance to open the scoring, after great work from Rooney. But his right footed shot was fired high into the Stretford End. There was a late flurry from United, with Robin van Persie’s volley blocked by Mikel, whilst Patrice Evra saw his left footed shot fire wide. The game might not have lived up to its hype, but there were a lot of positives to take from it for David Moyes.
United next travel to Anfield on Sunday.