There was little on show in Stockholm's Friends Arena on Tuesday evening to distract from the looming specter of a man whose absence had been dissected long and hard in the gossip pages before kick-off. Manchester United secured a 1-1 draw with AIK as they rounded off their preseason tour, which has also taken in Asia and Australia and that didn’t feature a single minute of action for Wayne Rooney. While a hamstring injury was cited for his absence for the first part of the tour, it is now claimed that the forward is suffering from a shoulder complaint amid confirmation of a second bid from Chelsea.
After Robin Quasion had given the impressive hosts the lead early in the second half, one man who will hope that his first-team opportunities will increase if Rooney is eventually moved on this summer, Angelo Henriquez converted from close range to tie things up. Much to his chagrin, injuries will again be on manager David Moyes’s mind after the final whistle with both Nani and Jonny Evans being forced off just a few days before the Community Shield and less than two weeks before the start of the new Premier League season.
Still, United certainly got a thorough workout against an AIK team that sits in third place a Swedish league that is right about at the halfway point. As he still chases a first significant signing in the transfer window, Moyes will be fully aware that there is plenty of work to be done if his new club is to retain their Premier League title.
AIK’s Uganda international forward Martin Kayongo-Mutumba gave the visitors plenty to think about and came close to putting his side in front on more than one occasion in the opening half. At the other end, Robin van Persie led the line on his 30th birthday, but he far from enjoyed the happiest of returns. The Dutchman put a decent effort just wide of the far post in the opening period but in the second half should have scored with two headed chances from eight yards, one of which went wide of the post and another that was sent straight into the arms of a grateful opposition goalkeeper.
Perhaps the biggest encouragement Moyes will take from the match is that captain Nemanja Vidic made it through the full 90 minutes after having missed the Asia and Australia tour through injury. But the 31-year-old did not look at his sharpest less than four minutes into the second half. Quasion left Vidic for dust as he turned at pace 25 yards from goal, but there was nothing that could be done to prevent the Sweden international’s superb shot which bent into the top corner past the just-introduced Ben Amos.
United had their best spell of the match after going behind and deservedly got back on level terms in the 68th minute. Wilfried Zaha, who again did enough to suggest that he’ll be involved in the United first team rather than being loaned out this season, fired a cross right across the six-yard box that was just begging to be turned in and Henriquez duly obliged at the far post.
There was even a late cameo from forgotten man Bebe in the closing minutes and the £7 million signing caused problems too with a couple of crosses that could and probably should have resulted in a winner. Attention will now turn to Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial on Friday and whether Rooney will be risked in front of an Old Trafford crowd.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.