x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Wayne Rooney's first decade a delight

When Wayne Rooney steps out to the pitch at Goodison Park it will mark 10 years in the Premier League. He's looking for another 10 just as good as the first decade.

Robin van Persie will partner with Wayne Rooney, left, for the first time in a regular-season match when Manchester United visit Goodison Park to face Everton.
Robin van Persie will partner with Wayne Rooney, left, for the first time in a regular-season match when Manchester United visit Goodison Park to face Everton.


Wayne Rooney will mark 10 years since making his Premier League debut for Everton when he faces his former club on Monday night for Manchester United.

The England striker made his top-flight bow as a raw 16 year old for Everton against Tottenham Hotspur.

That Rooney should be heading back to Goodison Park to mark the occasion - with a new strike partner in Robin van Persie - seems somehow fitting, even if the reception he gets from the supporters he has always considered himself one of tends to be less than friendly these days.

"I'm still fairly young," said Rooney, who has won four Premier League titles and the Champions League since moving to United from Everton in 2004. "I feel young anyway. It's great to have played in the Premier League for 10 years.

"It's an exciting league and I still feel exactly the same about my football as I did when I made my debut.

"I just hope I can play for another 10 years and have as much enjoyment as I did in my first 10."

While Van Persie's arrival from Arsenal has livened up the atmosphere around Old Trafford, not that everything is rosy for Sir Alex Ferguson amid reports that Rio Ferdinand is set for an extended period on the sidelines after picking up a training ground injury.

With Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling also sidelined, Michael Carrick seems certain to partner captain Nemanja Vidic in central defence.

And Vidic's fitness cannot be taken for granted as he only made his comeback from major knee surgery two weeks ago.

Rafael is set to be handed the right-back berth even though he did not feature at all during pre-season as he was part of the Brazil squad that failed to land that elusive Olympic gold medal.

It is hardly ideal ahead of a meeting with Everton.

David Moyes's side have proved to be troublesome opponents over the last couple of seasons.

Two years ago the Merseyside outfit scored twice in injury time to snatch a point on home soil and their equally staggering comeback at Old Trafford last April, when they recovered from 4-2 down inside the final 10 minutes, is viewed by many as the day when United's title aspirations suffered their most damaging jolt.

"It is a really tough first game," said Rooney. "Over the last few years, Everton have not really started well in the league. But, as an Evertonian, I know, both growing up and playing for them, when Manchester United go to Goodison, the whole place is lifted and the fans make it far more difficult.

"That game last season probably did cost us the league, so we have an incentive to get the three points."

Everton will not be able to select Kevin Mirallas after completing a deal for the Belgian international striker on Sunday, too late to make the match-day squad.

The versatile forward, who arrives from Greek side Olympiakos, has been handed the No 11 shirt, told evertontv: "I've known Everton have been following me for a while and after talking with the manager I decided coming to Everton was the best opportunity for me. I know this is a great club with great supporters and a club that has the ability win a lot of games in the Premier League. That's why I came."

The 24 year old scored 20 goals in Greece's top flight last season, having previously played in France for Saint-Etienne and Lille, and has netted five times in 28 appearances for his country.

Moyes's side finished seventh in the Premier League last season but their European hopes were all but scuppered by their familiar poor early form.

And striker Victor Anichebe emphasised the need to begin with a bang, saying: "We always finish the season really strong so if we can start well this year then you never know where that will take us. We're certainly looking to start better than we have done."


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