The two clubs of Wayne Rooney’s professional career played out a 0-0 draw in his testimonial game at Old Trafford Wednesday as Jose Mourinho managed Manchester United for the first time at their home stadium.
The low-key meeting with Everton was a predictable pre-season affair, with Mourinho using 22 players in preparation for the season ahead, although an occasion which the United and England captain will doubtless long remember.
The Old Trafford crowd greeted Rooney’s every touch with due respect but it was the first sighting on English soil of new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a United shirt that electrified the home crowd.
On 25 minutes, the Swede, who scored within three minutes of his friendly debut against Galatasary in Gothenburg on Saturday, received a through ball from Rooney and saw his shot parried by Maarten Stekelenburg in the Everton goal.
It was a decent save that was replicated at the other end soon after when Romelu Lukaku’s blocked shot was latched onto by Ross Barkley and his strike drew an impressive reflex stop from David de Gea.
United left-back Luke Shaw drove a low shot just wide from the edge of the area and Rooney’s hanging cross was controlled superbly by Ibrahimovic on his chest although Stekelenburg comfortably smothered.
Just before the interval, Lukaku also headed wide at the far post from a Seamus Coleman centre.
Rooney had been positioned in the number 10 role, the middle of a three-man midfield line behind lone striker Ibrahimovic, and there were fleeting moments that hinted the pairing could be a success.
But, otherwise, the game had a truly pre-season air to it with United gearing up towards Sunday’s Community Shield meeting with champions Leicester.
Rooney, 30, a United player since 2004, is to donate proceeds from the game - a reported £5 million - to a variety of charities.
His agent Paul Stretford also chose the occasion of the testimonial to announce that his player would like to see out his career at Old Trafford, beyond his current contract which expires in 2019.
"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."
Rooney has often had a complicated relationship with United supporters, having twice been involved in what were perceived to be attempts to leave the club.
But there was no doubting the warmth of the feeling towards the England captain from the stands at Old Trafford or the fact that new manager Mourinho believes he has an important role to play at the club.
Rooney remained in the action until the 53rd minute as Mourinho started to work through the wholesale substitutions he has used throughout pre-season and brought on Marcus Rashford in his place.
By that stage, Kevin Mirallas had missed the best opening of the night for Everton, lashing into the side-netting after Lukaku had helped on Coleman’s right-wing cross.
Manchester, United Kingdom | AFP |