Well that was a load of old tosh. Thankfully we can get back to talking about transfers now. Wayne Rooney completed the full, painful 90 minutes for Manchester United and was probably their most dangerous attacker, which isn't saying much. Chelsea showed very little ambition and seemed happy with the point. David Moyes avoids a defeat. I leave you with this poem from a man called mAtuRe OnE. Not sure if it works, especially as I've lived in west London all my life.
There once was a Steinberg from Israel
Who believed he could tell the world
To go to hell
By not doing his job
Typing juvenile puns like a slob
And ignoring the game before him.
But one day his bosses wised up
Knew 'twas time to spay the pup
But didn't have a blade handy
So they kicked his ass out the door
Readers didn't miss him for sure
Hired themselves a new, competent dandy
"Is this a joke or are you being paid for this drivel?" says the charming David Wilkinson, who would like me to know that he sent that email from his Samsung Tablet. Get him.
We are free! It's over!
90 min+4: Cesar Azpilicueta replaces Eden Hazard before the corner is taken. Van Persie curls it to the near post. It's headed on and Rooney tries an overhead kick of sorts at the far post. He can't make contact with the ball and it's cleared.
90 min+3: A break, led by Rooney, ends with Young winning a corner for United on the right. It's now or never.
90 min+2: What this game has missed is the impact of Victor Anichebe off the bench.
90 min+1: We're into Moyesie Time. Two more minutes of mediocre huffing and puffing!
90 min: Three more minutes, guys. "Isn't the Bourne Identity the one where they bump off the Guardian journalist?" says Mark Francome. Er.
88 min: Jones dashes down the right. Cahill heads it up in the air and the ball eventually comes to Van Persie. He looks certain to score but seems to get his body shape wrong as he hits his right-footed volley. It's going wide but hits Mikel and flies to Evra, whose volley from the edge of the area flashes well wide.
87 min: Mikel replaces Schurrle. And Stephen McCrossan has written a poem.
There was a young man named Mourinho
Who had often beaten Torino
To the Prem he came back
But refused to attack
So everyone turned over to watch Bourne Identity for the fifth time
85 min: It's all been worth it for this: John Obi Mikel is going to come on! The wait is nearly over. "Mr Roy would never have allowed this mediocrity to continue," says Paul Ryan. "Have you noticed that Apple devices now include the correct spelling of Mourinho in predictive text ... surely proof of his place in history?"
82 min: Wayne Rooney has done some running and some passing, and you can't ask for more than that.
81 min: "I had the well-being of Jimmy Bullard bouncing around my brain sometime in the first half," says Ben Maher.
80 min: What's Moyes got against Kagawa? Torres is booked for stopping Cleverley from taking a quick free-kick.
79 min: Ian Copestake's got a poem for us.
All in a hot and copper Guardian towers,
This bloody match, an evening kick-off, 'Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck with this game, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
78 min: Danny Welbeck is replaced by Ryan Giggs, who is making his 50th appearance against Chelsea.
77 min: Ivanovic crosses and Torres glances a header wide. Up the other end, Rooney drops the shoulder and fires a shot towards the left corner from 25 yards. Cech dives to his right to make his first real save of the match, at the expense of a corner. Which comes to nothing.
76 min: "I ended up watching the recent Margaret Thatcher movie on a date," says Henry Buckle-Loveless. "There was no snogging." That's nothing. I watched her funeral on a date.
74 min: "I walked out of the cinema once," says Joe McGrath. "We had tickets to see the last Harry Potter film, and that's not even the worst part. We went to the cinema, walking straight through to the screen because we were a little late and there was no-one checking tickets. We sat there for about ten minutes through what appeared to be the longest and most irritating of all those Orange adverts, you know the ones. Wondering what the hell was going on, I checked the time on the ticket: it was the right time. I then looked at the date: we were a full week early. We had walked into some weird rom-com by mistake."
Been there. I was supposed to see The Skin I Live In. Ended up in the wrong screen, watching a very grisly horror. After 15 minutes, I realised it wasn't the trailer.
73 min: Young produces a glorious cross from the right. It's just too high for Van Persie and Cech stretches to push it away from inside his six-yard box. He's lucky no United player is following up.
72 min: Now it's Chelsea's turn to appeal for a penalty after Cole nutmegs Jones and goes down under the lightest of brushes. That was embarrassing. He claims Jones pulled his shirt. That was a dive.
71 min: "I've only walked out one movie; Edward II by Derek Jarman," says Mistr Justin. ""It was at the peak of my Smiths days and I was under the premise that it would be kinda like his music videos. It was too highbrow for my late teen years and the theme of the movie didn't lend itself to snogging with the girlfriend. Maybe I should watch it again now that I'm much, much older?"
Snogging is such an odd word. "Darling, would you like to do some snogging?"
70 min: Wikipedia informs me that "Henrik is now retired and lives in Trelleborg Sweden".
69 min: I just found myself wondering what Henrik Pedersen is up to these days.
68 min: If you were wondering whether this has improved at all, we've just been treated to a shot of David Moyes's dad. "I've never seen more people walk out of a film than during a showing of black humoured serial killer following Belgian curiosity Man Bites Dog in 1993," says Phil Sawyer. "That one took early nineties Preston by surprise, I can tell you."
66 min: Hooray! Ashley Young is on for Antonio Valencia!
65 min: Rooney tries an ambitious volley from 25 yards out but it's straight at Cech. A look at the appeal for handball against Lampard shows Atkinson made the correct call. "Thank goodness I recorded day 4 of the 5th test against the Aussies last week," says Andrew Lockhart. "Am watching that instead, rather dramatic in comparison..."
63 min: "You're not the only one in the doldrums, Jacob," says Moyukh Purkayastha. "Manuel Pellegrini looks thoroughly depressed in the stands. In all likelihood, he's probably still smarting from a taste of yesterday's PROPER FOOTBALL™ (pump it in the mixer and bundle it home amidst a maelstrom of shirt-tugging, elbows-flailing confusion)." He gets to sit next to Mr Roy and Chris Coleman though.
62 min: Valencia's cross is headed away as far as Cleverley, whose volley is blocked by Lampard. United appeal loudly for a penalty for handball but Atkinson isn't interested.
61 min: "I was pretty close to tears of boredom during Only god forgives," says Tristan Murphy. "I should have just walked out of the cinema but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have a lot of respect for people who have the stones to do that." I've only walked out of a cinema once, during Vin Diesel's XXX.
60 min: The first change. Fernando Torres gets a charming reception from the home fans as he replaces Kevin de Bruyne. "Have been staring at the screen for 60 mins wondering why Moyes cannot wear a tracksuit while on the touchline for Utd a la his touchline days at Everton?" says David Harding. "Company policy?" He wanted to impress Mourinho.
59 min: Oh my. Schurrle cuts in from the right and sees his tame shot blocked. The ball spins away to Cahill, who catches his shot from 35 yards out so sweetly with his right foot. De Gea dives to his left to hold it comfortably though. Moments later, Schurrle is clean through on goal but he's marginally offside. He clunked his shot against the bar anyway.
58 min: Valencia speeds past Cole and passes to Cahill. What has happened to him?
57 min: "As a public service Fiorentina v. Catania is watchable," says Michael Bertin.
56 min: This is the best chance so far. Evra, who has been United's most important attacking threat at times, tussles with De Bruyne and manages to turn the ball to Rooney just outside the area. He quickly feeds a pass through to Welbeck, who stays on his feet despite a slight touch from a defender. He seems to get the ball stuck under his feet though and sidefoots over from 12 yards out.
55 min: Welbeck curls a shot miles over from 25 yards out. Have any of you ever actually wept real salty tears from boredom before?
53 min: Mourinho is smouldering on the touchline.
51 min: Up the other end, Hazard shoots straight at De Gea from 25 yards. "If the lad in China gave up ages ago, he'll surely be having a better time than we are," says Reinoud Dupan.
50 min: This is much better from United. Evra speeds through the middle from the left and knocks a pass to Welbeck. He tries to flick it back to Evra but there's Terry to clear. He's been excellent.
49 min: "Where are the guardian offices?" says Paul Rankin. "Please tell me they are in giant ivory towers or are they some sort of yurt/occupy tent type conurbation?" Haven't you seen the third Bourne film?
48 min: Carrick gives the ball away in a dangerous position and suddenly Oscar has a free run at Ferdinand and Vidic. Between them, though, they've got the situation under control. "Is it just me who is more interested if the lad in China got a stream than this game?" says Simon Jenkins. Oh he gave up ages ago.
46 min: The second half begins. Let's hope it's better. It has to be better. "Do you have to be in the guardian offices to do MBM or can you do it from the comfort of your own home?" says Rowan Shingler. You have to be in the Guardian offices, just for all the banter really.
"It's so frustrating to see hundreds of millions of pounds spent to set up two teams to play that execrable dross!" says Colin Owens. "It's like amassing a great art collection and hanging them backwards."
That was comfortably one of the worst halves I've ever seen.
That was pretty awful. To summarise, some players were on the pitch and there was a ball.
45 min+1: Jose Mourinho is already heading for the tunnel.
45 min: There will be one minute of added time. "I wish football allowed guest manager slots so Rafa can have another crack at Mourinho when Chelsea and Liverpool meet," says Ian Copestake. "Would be as bad a game as this one but Rafa would enjoy ghosting into Anfield for that one."
44 min: Oscar wakes David De Gea up. Lampard and De Bruyne attempt to play Hazard in behind United's defence but Phil Jones's is alive to the danger. His challenge sends the ball to Oscar but his snapshot from 18 yards out is straight at De Gea again.
42 min: This hasn't been the greatest advert for the Barclays Premier League.
40 min: "Can you see, so far, what Mourinho sees in De Bruyne over Mata?" says Oliver Pattenden. No.
38 min: It's not long before Jones is back in the swing of things. He swooshes down the right flank and sends in a low cross. Terry clears from inside the six-yard box and Cleverley charges forward to blast one over from 25 yards.
37 min: Phil Jones has hurt his hip, or maybe his shoulder, after a heavy fall. I don't know. I'm not a doctor. "Mourinho is box-office, there's no doubt about that," says Simon McMahon. "But then so was Fast & Furious 6."
36 min: This half is not going to live long in the memory.
34 min: It wasn't really an elbow by Van Persie but he did catch De Bruyne with a flailing arm.
32 min: Now Atkinson has had enough. De Bruyne is the first player to be shown a yellow card after fouling Van Persie on the left. He's incandescent though, claiming that Van Persie elbowed him. The blood pouring out of his lip is handy evidence.
30 min: Antonio Valencia sends Oscar flying with a poorly-timed challenge. Martin Atkinson keeps his cards in his pocket again.
29 min: Cleverley slides a pass to Rooney on the edge of the area. He evades Cahill and tries to guide one past Cech, going for accuracy rather than power. The ball arrives at Cech at a pace of 1mph.
28 min: It's sometimes forgotten that Mourinho is often more entertaining than his teams.
26 min: Rooney is hailed by the United fans as he goes over to swing in a corner from the left. It's cleared. Chelsea are defending well. United need to quicken the pace. "You said earlier that you didn't think Mata suited the high-octane/pressing style of play, do you mean tonight or under Mourinho in general?" says Kevin Comber. "Please tell me that you don't think he's leaving Jacob! A league without Mata is a less beautiful league (both physically and in footballing terms)." I wouldn't be shocked if he leaves Chelsea. They have too many players in that position and Mourinho has said one will go.
24 min: Evra pings a cross into the Chelsea area from the left. Van Persie peels away from Terry but the ball is a touch too high and he heads it well wide.
23 min: Van Persie plucks a high ball out of the sky and manages to hold off a couple of Chelsea defenders at the same time. He seems to be going away from goal but he's always dangerous, always looking to get a shot away. It seems like there's no way through but he still finds a way to thump a fierce effort into the side-netting from the left. A few United fans thought it was in.
22 min: This is promising from Chelsea. Hazard saunters down the left flank before backheeling the ball to Schurrle. He spots De Bruyne to his right and finds the Belgian, who instantly lays the ball into the path of the onrushing Oscar, who sashays forward before cutting across the shot with his right foot and sending it a few yards wide.
21 min: Van Persie pirouettes past Ivanovic on the right but Rooney can't return the ball into his path on the edge of the area.
19 min: "The match in China is apparently on Guangdong Sports Channel," says Neil Hicks. "Not sure that will help the guy in Fuzhou."
17 min: Branislav Ivanovic's attempt to score from 35 yards out does not go well. I am in shock.
16 min: Van Persie slithers through the challenges and moves the ball out to Rooney on the right. He's got loads of space to attack but Terry foils his plans by standing in the way of his cross. "Thanks to Rob Coughlin (2 minutes) for putting my problems in perspective," says Travis Giblin. "I'm at a local sports bar watching the game on the big screen tv but without audio, so I'm having to listen to the game on an internet radio stream which is 50 seconds behind the game. I have to make do with all of this by drinking a big schooner of beer and a regular beer server stopping by. Poor me..."
15 min: Ashley Cole scythes through the back of Van Persie on the halfway line but Martin Atkinson elects not to book him. Strange.
14 min: This is not a thriller yet. "Will Rooney show some respect if he scores tonight by not celebrating against his future club?" says Des O'Brien. I'm struggling to think of anything that could be a more moral act.
13 min: "Anyone know what channel the match is on in China???" says Rob Coughlin. Someone help him.
12 min: Oscar inadvertently deflects a pass from Rooney to Welbeck. He tries to exchange passes with Van Persie but Ivanovic reads the danger, steaming across from right-back to concede a corner on the right. Van Persie trots across to take it but Terry heads it away with his head.
10 min: The first shot comes from Chelsea. Schurrle drifts over to the right and drills a low cross into the United area. Ferdinand's clearance is poor, only as far as Oscar, who slams a first-time shot straight at De Gea from the edge of the area. He might feel he should have scored or at least given De Gea a bit more to think about.
9 min: Chelsea are sitting back and challenging United to break them down. It's just like chess. Ferdinand pumps a long ball out for a goal-kick. Chelsea's fans jeer. "By your reckoning then Mata hasn't run anywhere fast enough or tracked back enough to warrant a rest," says David Flynn.
7 min: There's not been much to write about so far, as you can probably tell. Both sides are feeling each other out right now, although United are maybe just about shading it. "Sad to hear that Brian Greenhoff died in May," says Ian Copestake. "I did not know that. But I remember him as one (along with his brother) that even Liverpool fans like myself (quietly) admired."
5 min: Rooney is up for this, then. He hounds Cole deep on Chelsea's left, refusing to give up the chase. Cole plays it back to Terry and Rooney charges down his clearance. The ball spoons up in the air and Rooney clatters into Terry, conceding a free-kick. "FFS Jacob, everybody knows the Chosen One is Anakin Skywalker!!" says Ryan Dunne. "Save the controversy-stirring click-bait for Comment is Free!"
4 min: Valencia feeds a pass from the right through to Rooney, who's popped up in a pocket of space. He tries to burst past Cahill and through on goal but he doesn't quite have enough pace to get round the Chelsea defender. He was chugging a bit there.
2 min: There's a cracking atmosphere inside Old Trafford. Yes, really. Rooney gets on the ball for the first time. He doesn't score an own goal on purpose. "I'm in Fuzhou China on a business trip but I'm staying up to watch me Blues (03.00) only to find the match is not televised here," says Rob Coughlin. "To make it worse, porn is illegal so I have nothing. Man I wish I didn't quit smoking."
And, finally, we are off. Chelsea kick off, attacking from right to left in the first half. They're in blue and United are in red. But you knew that already. "Young ahead of Zaha for the bench," says Daniel Harris. "Nice touch that, real nice."
Moyes and Mourinho have a quick exchange. Mourinho forgets to poke Neville in the eye.
Here come the teams. They perform the ceremonial shaking of hands. And then the man enters the arena. That's right. Phil Neville is back at Old Trafford. What a reception he gets. Oh, and there's David Moyes. He gets a high-five from Fred the Red, a real nerve-settler. A banner in the Stretford End reads: "The Chosen One". I thought that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"Two managers tonight still in the market for creative midfield players, two of the leagues most creative midfielders on their respective benches not getting a look in," says David Flynn. "Mata ran Chelsea last season and Kagawa deserves a prolonged run in the team, he scored a hat trick at the tail end of the last campaign and got dropped for two games. Madness."
One way of looking at it is that both played in the Confederations Cup this summer. But I kind of get why Mourinho might not fancy Mata. I'm not sure if he's suited to a quick tempo or to closing down.
My Chewsee mate has just sent me a message bemoaning the absence of David Luiz and the inclusion of Gary Cahill. He's worried what Van Persie will do to him. It's ok, he's no Kenny Miller.
"Jose's mind games with rival managers aren't as much about Moyes or Guardiola as they are about you, Jacob," says Philip Podolsky. "Making himself the focal point of the headline-hungry media helps take the pressure off his players. If Ashley Cole could wrap his head around this concept then nobody has an excuse not to."
Specifically me? I feel so special.
"Make everything simpler and quicker," says Matt Dony. "The winner tonight gets to keep Wayne. Sorted. The Rooney Cup."
Do they have to get on a podium and lift him up in the sky?
We're playing those mind games together,
Pushing barriers, planting seeds,
Playing the mind guerilla,
Chanting the Mantra peace on earth,
We all been playing mind games forever,
Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil.
Doing the mind guerilla,
Some call it the search for the grail,
Love is the answer and you know that for sure,
Love is flower you got to let it, you got to let it grow,
So keep on playing those mind games together,
Faith in the future outta the now,
You just can't beat on those mind guerillas,
Absolute elsewhere in the stones of your mind,
Yeah we're playing those mind games forever,
Projecting our images in space and in time,
Yes is the answer and you know that for sure,
Yes is the surrender you got to let it, you got to let it go,
So keep on playing those mind games together,
Doing the ritual dance inn the sun,
Millions of mind guerrillas,
Putting their soul power to the karmic wheel,
Keep on playing those mind games forever,
Raising the spirit of peace and love, not war,
(I want you to make love, not war, I know you've heard it before)
Here's what David Moyes has to say about Wayne Rooney: "He's a Manchester United player and he'll prove that tonight."
Jose Mourinho speaks.
Can he explain his team selection? "I can't. Because I think David is in his room listening to this interview.
Can he explain his team selection? "I go for mobility. I want to try to win the game. I don't come with a defensive team. But instead of one target man I play with four attacking players. In the end, the result will make the judgement. We worked well in the week with this system." Poor Torres.
Is he surprised that Rooney is playing? "No. Not really. Fantastic player for them. They have him. Why not play him? I was ready for this. I was ready for Giggs and not Wayne. Let's see if we can cope with it. We need to control him. He can score in the box, he can score outside the box."
Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa both on the bench, though. I'm off for a cry.
It's not a huge surprise that Wayne Rooney starts. It tells him he's wanted at United. And we all know he's going to score the winner. I hope you know that. Jose knows it. He'll then make his bid at 9.53pm tonight. As for Mourinho's decision to play without a recognised striker, it makes sense: Andre Schurrle, tonight's designated False Nein, is rapid and his pace could trouble United on the counter-attack. But a message has been emphatically sent to Fernando Torres, who's on the bench, and Demba Ba, who hasn't travelled with the squad. Juan Mata is also on the bench, I see. What does it all mean? Jim White must be very giddy right now.
Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Welbeck; Rooney, Van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Smalling, Buttner, Anderson, Giggs, Kagawa, Young
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; De Bruyne, Oscar, Hazard; Schurrle. Subs: Schwarzer, Azpilicueta, Essien, Mikel, Mata, Lukaku, Torres.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Note to Jamie Carragher: it is Joe-say, not Hose-A.
Sorry, that wasn't remotely excitable enough: Wayne Rooney starts for Manchester United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HEEEEEEEEE HEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wayne Rooney starts for Manchester United. Jose Mourinho has picked a team without a striker. Mind games. More team news to follow.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke. Drip. Drip. Drip. Prod. Prod. Prod. Poke. Poke. Poke.
And repeat ad nauseam. It gets a bit annoying after a while, a bit much, and doesn't Jose Mourinho know it. He's after David Moyes. You can be sure of that. He's probably not going to poke him in the eye tonight and he hasn't even bothered to kidnap his family. He's even tried to sound complimentary and respectful, patting Moyes on the head and playfully ruffling his hair, patronising him to within an inch of his life. But he's after him. He's watched Moyes fail to sign the players United needed this summer and he's watched Moyes give Wayne Rooney, who is still wanted by Chelsea, just enough of a reason to have been left "angry and confused" and desperate to leave Old Trafford.
Because of ethics, Mourinho said that Chelsea would wait until after tonight's match to make a third bid for Rooney, which effectively amounted to a bid. There's a plan behind everything he says. Sometimes you have to read between the lines; sometimes it's obvious. Just the other day, he was asked whether United fans will give him a heated reception tonight. A picture of innocence, he said it wasn't him who told Rooney he would be second choice at United, somehow managing to keep the butter in his mouth at an ice-cool temperature. So Moyes was to blame? "Of course." He's after him. Moyes, though, has been canny enough not to take the bait from a man who made Pep Guardiola play a three-man defence at Barcelona and sign Alexis Sanchez, before eventually fleeing to New York. Probably a wise move.
You'll have noticed there's been very little discussion about football before the football match we're all here for. It's been transfers this, transfers that. No transfers have actually happened, though. The wait goes on. Rooney is still at United and may play tonight. Juan Mata isn't going to Tottenham. But he might go somewhere. One of them will probably score the winner. Football. There's a match. What a match. David Moyes's first at Old Trafford and he's up against Jose Mourinho. What an occasion. Mourinho won here with Real Madrid last season. Chelsea won here under Rafa Benitez, albeit against Alex Buttner's Manchester United. United are terrified of Chelsea's creative geniuses. But United have Robin van Persie and Chelsea have Fernando Torres. Let battle commence.
Battle commences at: 8pm.