Wayne Rooney will start his 12th season with Manchester United by captaining his side against former club Everton in his testimonial tonight.
The United striker, who scored twice in a 5-2 win against Galatasaray on Saturday, will take all the limelight in what will also be Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of United at Old Trafford.
Mourinho is expected to field his strongest XI, which would likely have included Rooney anyway, but even if the Englishman is not in his new boss’ plans the club captain can be assured he’ll start in a match which will celebrate his achievements in the game.
With the Portuguese boss set to name a strong side though, Rooney will be in the company of some quality players on the night. He can expect all three of his new teammates who were signed this summer – Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – to start alongside him.
Those players might take some of the attention away from Rooney, with fans likely to be just as intrigued to see how the club’s new arrivals fare at Old Trafford for the first time, but more familiar figures like David de Gea, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw should complete the defensive set-up.
Darmian could be preferred to Antonio Valencia, who did incredibly well in an attacking right-back role against Galatasaray, but Mourinho will likely want to test a more defensively reliable player in that position. The Italian came on in the latter stages against the Turkish side which will have better prepared him for a starting appearance on Wednesday.
Whilst the back four could see plenty of changes, there shouldn’t be as much rotation in midfield from the last match. Mourinho started both Morgan Schneiderlin and Anthony Martial against Galatasaray, even though the pair had only spent a couple of days in training beforehand, possibly indicating that the French duo are set to be a key part of their new boss’ plans.
Partnering Schneiderlin in midfield should be Ander Herrera, who has started every match under Mourinho so far. It will likely be that pair who continue in midfield until Paul Pogba completes his drawn-out move to Old Trafford, if the Juventus star does indeed return to Manchester.
With this still just a friendly, players on the periphery of the starting team such as Juan Mata and Memphis Depay can expect to feature at some point, but the night will be all about captain Rooney.
Predicted XI: De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Herrera; Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Martial; Ibrahimovic.