In Review

Man Utd toil at Rooney's testimonial but Ibrahimovic offers hope for future

Ghost of Louis van Gaal hangs over Old Trafford as goalless draw leaves Mourinho a 'frustrated figure'

Testimonial games in honour of strikers are not supposed to end goalless, but the pre-season jolly between Manchester United and Everton to mark Wayne Rooney's 12 years at Old Trafford did just that.

Despite new man Zlatan Ibrahimovic being paired with England's record goalscorer up front, United drew a blank in Jose Mourinho's first match at the Theatre of Dreams.

"It wasn't Louis van Gaal bad. But it was bad," says Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News.

Rather than a celebration of Rooney's career, the evening could be seen as a warning to United fans that the malaise of last season could linger this term.

Mourinho cut a "frustrated figure" on the touchline, adds Dawson. "With two wins from four games, an arduous trip to China and a Paul Pogba-shaped hole the squad, this pre-season has not gone to plan.

"There was enough from Rooney and Ibrahimovic to suggest United will score goals next season. But having watched Everton create the better chances, Mourinho will know they will concede them, too."

Despite the lack of goals, there was a hint of chemistry between Ibrahimovic and Rooney, says Andy Hunter of The Guardian.

"The pair may have a combined age of 64 but their touch, quality and understanding was evident in United's final outing before Sunday's Community Shield against Leicester City."

However, it was also apparent that "the rigidity of the Louis van Gaal era will not disappear at a stroke", he adds.

The presence of Ibrahimovic will help restore the much-talked-about United "mentality". Jack Gaughan of Mail Online was struck by the buzz in the crowd every time the Swede got the ball.

"They know what Ibrahimovic offers: a looming threat more than anything else. He will score goals, spectacular ones at that, but the lingering sense of doom he initiates could well be the 34-year-old's most potent weapon," he writes.

"It will all help in rekindling the United mentality boasted under Sir Alex Ferguson, definitely at home. Opposition defenders wary, the crowd letting them know they ought to be. The aura alone is worth the silver thrown at his feet."

Wayne Rooney: What does future hold for Man Utd star?

03 August

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney tonight faces his former club Everton in a testimonial match to mark 12 years at Old Trafford, with the proceeds going to charity.

His United career has been impressive: he has won the Premier League five times, has a Champions League and a Fifa World Club Championship title to his name, has League Cup and FA Cup winners' medals and is England's all-time leading goal-scorer.

Testimonials are "traditionally a time for reflecting on past glories", but this one is accompanied by a "preoccupation with the future", says Matt Dickinson of The Times.

Rooney is at a crossroads and "there must be nagging uncertainty about his standing for club and country", he writes. 

Last season, Rooney's future seemed to be as a midfielder, the role he played for United and England at Euro 2016. But now, under Jose Mourinho, he is once again being touted as a forward.

"For a player whose mobility has been questioned now that he is into his thirties, Rooney is being required to perform a dramatic U-turn," says Dickinson.

But Rooney has the backing of new club mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, says Sky Sports. The Swede is expected to make his United debut against Everton and lavished praise on Rooney ahead of the game. 

"I see no problems, only success," he said. "I said many years ago the perfect partner for a striker is Wayne Rooney. He works not only for himself, but for the striker and the whole team."

Rooney himself said he was looking forward to the game – even if he expected to get "a bit emotional" when the teams walk out. But he has an eye on the future and said he hoped the game could form an important part of United's pre-season preparations.

The Manchester Evening News, looking further ahead than this season, says Rooney plans to remain at Old Trafford beyond his current contract, which expires in 2019.

"There have been rumours the former Everton striker would take up a lucrative offer from China or the US when his deal expires," reports the paper. "But his agent Paul Stretford says Rooney… wants to remain a Red - despite serious enquiries."


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