Testimonial matches are often faintly farcical affairs with equally farcical scorelines, though Wayne Rooney’s at Old Trafford on Wednesday was very different. Manchester United were held to a goalless draw by Everton in a frustrating game between two impotent teams. With José Mourinho looking slightly irritated by his first home game as United manager, it’s clear it was being treated as more than just a celebratory runaround.
The first half was certainly the more entertaining of the two, with United's early pressing causing Everton problems. However, their slick early play rarely produced an end product, and only a great David de Gea save prevented Gerard Deulofeu from giving the Toffees the lead. United’s best chance arguably came a few minutes later, though a low Luke Shaw drive bounced off John Stones on its way behind.
Chances arrived at both ends shortly before the interval, though Zlatan Ibrahimović was denied by Maarten Stekelenburg before Romelu Lukaku headed agonisingly wide.
The second half lacked the fluency of the first, with a string of substitutions giving rise to a fairly disjointed contest. Rooney was withdrawn to a standing ovation less than 10 minutes into the second half, with Marcus Rashford taking to the field. Not even the introduction of the lively teenager was enough to liven an increasingly tedious contest, and the clock ran down with the game staying goalless.
It was a useful exercise in match fitness, and Mourinho is sure to have learned a lot from a match against Premier League opposition. However, United didn’t look as threatening in attack as we’d have hoped, and just a couple of weeks before the start of the season, the coaching staff are running out of time to iron out United’s flaws.