Wayne Rooney’s headline-grabbing presence couldn’t inspire Manchester United to victory over Chelsea on Monday as the title rivals played out a dull 0-0 draw in the Premier League’s first blockbuster match of the season.
David Moyes marked his first home game in charge of United with the bold selection of Rooney against a club that has twice lodged unsuccessful offers to sign the England striker this summer.
That selection added extra spice to a game that is always eagerly anticipated but, despite a standout performance from Rooney in his first start of the season, neither team created a clear-cut chance in a disappointing stalemate at Old Trafford.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho opted surprisingly to start with no recognised striker, only bringing on Fernando Torres after 60 minutes, and was happy to leave with a point that keeps his team unbeaten after three matches in his second spell in charge. Chelsea are top of the early standings on seven points.
Continuing the traditions of his predecessor Alex Ferguson, Moyes fielded an attacking lineup that contained three strikers - including Rooney - but his team lacked the attacking spark that lifted it to a season-opening 4-1 win at Swansea last weekend.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Mourinho in the technical area and opposite an overbearing stand bearing Ferguson’s name, Moyes was given yet more indications of the size of his daunting task at United.
His decision to start with Rooney, however, showed he will be his own man at United and he was treated to an impressive display from a striker who was serenaded with chants from both sets of fans. While United supporters belted out “Rooney, Rooney” throughout, Chelsea’s traveling contingent replied with: “We’ll see you next week” and “Sign him up.”