Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United v Chelsea: After all the hype, what a load of tripe

By Steven Beacom

Has nobody told David Moyes? Manchester United do not do scoreless draws...especially at Old Trafford! In Sir Alex Ferguson's era 0-0 was a result that was virtually unheard of.

Yet here, in the first home match for Ferguson's replacement, there were no goals, not many chances and precious little to get excited about.

That was a far cry from when the fixture list was announced. We were bouncing around like eager kids, ready to be let loose in a chocolate factory, at the mouthwatering prospect of Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea side taking on new boss Moyes and United so early in the campaign.

Unfortunately the dream ticket clash failed to live up to its star billing. It was as dull as dishwater at times.

And the first half, after all the hype, was just a load of old tripe.

It really was a huge letdown.

The most interesting moment in the opening 45 minutes was Mourinho losing his pen on the touchline!

For the record the last time United drew 0-0 at home in the Premier League was in May 2009 against Arsenal when at least they clinched the title.

Last night's match versus Chelsea was the 77th fixture in the top flight since that encounter with the Gunners

And the first under Moyes. Coincidence?

Let's not write him off just yet. I'm sure United will score a hatful of goals in future home games. After all, they won't be coming up against a resolute, powerful and well organised defence like Chelsea's every fortnight.

Still, though, Moyes will be disappointed not to have emerged victorious from his first match as manager at Old Trafford. If it's any consolation to him, United were the only side who looked as though they would win it.

And then there was the performance of Wayne Rooney.

That must be a plus for the manager, assuming that he is going to stay at United and not end up at Chelsea.

It's been widely reported over the summer that the England striker wanted out of Manchester, with Stamford Bridge his preferred destination.

Well, you wouldn't have known it watching him last night.

Rooney may have been lacking that final telling ball or wonder goal to break the deadlock, but you couldn't fault his effort and endeavour. One tackle in the left back position late on to deny a cross illustrated Rooney's commitment on a football pitch.

It was cheered to the rafters by United fans who made it clear that they wanted the guy, who supposedly feels unwanted, to stay at their club.

Chelsea supporters joined the Rooney love-in, singing they'd be signing him soon.

Mourinho would love that. Clearly he doesn't have too much faith in his present batch of forwards given his curious team selection last night.

The bench-warming Fernando Torres in particular will be sulking today and where he is concerned he doesn't need many excuses to feel sorry for himself.

Remember Torres having a pop at Roberto Di Matteo 24 hours after leaving him out of the Champions League final in Munich?

Forget the greatest moment in Chelsea's history, all Torres was concerned about was himself and his lack of game-time as he launched a blistering attack on the club that bought him for £50 million.

He would not have been a happy bunny when he learned that he was a substitute at Old Trafford and his mood would have been darker still when finding out that midfielder Andre Schurrle was going to lead the line.

That decision set the tone for Chelsea as an attacking force because while Schurrle is a gifted midfielder, a central striker he most certainly is not.

Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand must have thought they were still on their holidays. They could have taken the deckchairs out, such was the relaxing time they had.

Mind you, United weren't much more threatening at the other end with John Terry and his back four in solid form, without being truly tested.

The entertainment improved in the second half, funny enough after Torres came on, though it could not have been any worse.

Danny Welbeck had the best chance of the match but fluffed his lines blazing over the bar. It was that sort of night.

Belfast Telegraph


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