London: Wayne Rooney has told David Moyes he is ready to face Everton on Sunday after returning to training at Manchester United following a recent toe injury.
Moyes, the United manager, had been ready to rest Rooney for the trip to Goodison Park — the Scot’s first visit to Everton since leaving for Old Trafford at the end of last season — in an effort to ensure that the player’s injury was given sufficient time to heal.
Moyes had claimed after United’s Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich last week that Rooney had struggled to kick the ball properly because of the discomfort caused by the injury.
But despite initial concerns that the 28-year-old had suffered a chipped bone in a toe, United are now confident that Rooney experienced nothing more than heavy bruising when sustaining the injury during the first leg of the tie against the German champions two weeks ago.
The former Everton forward trained with the first team at Carrington on Thursday and has convinced Moyes that he is fit enough to play against Roberto Martinez’s team.
While Rooney’s return will come as welcome news for Moyes, he can be sure of one thing when he makes his return to Goodison Park on Sunday is, unlike last time, there will be no guard of honour.
Being Everton’s manager must seem a lifetime ago for Manchester United’s boss. The standing ovation greeting his farewell performance, universal approval for 10 years of sterling service and a lap of the pitch as the Evertonians said thank you and good luck.
A year on from announcing he was replacing Alex Ferguson, Moyes will feel trepidation where once there was only appreciation. At best his reception will be mixed when he leads United to his former home, and at worst there will be a repeat of the hostility he experienced when Everton won at Old Trafford last December.
“You’re getting sacked in the morning,” the visiting fans sang. Moyes was genuinely hurt and bewildered by the venom, many attributing this to the fickleness of the fans’ enthusiasm to burn today what they loved yesterday.
Whether such acrimony is judged unfair, it is slightly more nuanced than this. Although temporarily delayed when Moyes announced his departure, it was inevitable there would be a reaction eventually due to the unconventional manner of his exit.
To trace the origins of rancour from a section of Evertonians you need only recall the day Moyes confirmed he was heading to Old Trafford.
On the surface it seemed a classy and dignified way to leave a club, but others felt it was a damaging representation not of how admirably Moyes had performed at Goodison Park but how their club tolerated subservience to his long-term, personal ambition for too long.