Juan Mata reacts to Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford for Everton

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata has reacted to Wayne Rooney‘s return to Old Trafford during Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Everton on Sunday.

The 31-year-old made his first appearance at the Theatre of Dreams since joining Everton over the summer and almost drew the visitors level after squirming into the box before firing a shot at David de Gea‘s legs.

He was taken off after 82 minutes and watched on forlornly as Jose Mourinho‘s men turned the screw late on with goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial.

And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, was quick to pay tribute to the club’s all-time top goalscorer and noted he received the reception he deserved.

“I want to highlight Wayne Rooney‘s return to Old Trafford,” he said. “He’s part of the Manchester United legend and the crowd gave him the ovation that he deserves when he was substituted.

“Seeing that respect from our fans in the stadium to our former captain was really moving. It makes you feel proud of belonging to this club. I think Wayne has still a lot of things to say in football and I wish him the best for the rest of the season.”

Amid the late eviscerating of Everton’s back four, with Old Trafford purring at yet another emphatic win, the camera panned over to Rooney.

And there he sat, his lips slightly pursed as he looked on with a blank, contemplative expression. Old Trafford was once his kingdom, his stomping ground, and now he was merely a bystander in a wider drama that he couldn’t effect, despite his best efforts.

This was a game Rooney will want to forget. That much is clear. What he achieved at Old Trafford will always be entrenched in the history books, but now his attention is clearly on making the best of his final years at the top – and it hasn’t got off to the best of starts.

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