Robbie Savage, writing for BBC, reckons Mourinho instructed his team to stay tight and focus not losing and praised Rooney’s contribution:
What indicated to me that Chelsea were at Old Trafford to get a point was seeing their full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole staying close to their centre-backs Gary Cahill and John Terry rather than trying to bomb forward.
His all-round game was exceptional, whether it was his tracking back, or the way he brought other people into play. He had all three of United’s shots on target and it was his best performance for a long time.
Barney Ronay, reporting for the Guardian, also noted Rooney’s importance:
At times during a fitful 0-0 draw at Old Trafford it was tempting to conclude that not only could both teams do with one, two or even three fully-fit Wayne Rooneys at the same time …
It has become fashionable to downgrade England’s most celebrated attacker but this was a reminder of his more obvious virtues, the explosive qualities that might have offered more thrust to one or two moments of promising Chelsea interplay.
Jamie Jackson, also for the Guardian, recognized the contribution of Manchester United’s centre backs:
So, though early in the season, to see them start for a second consecutive match suggests a solidity that Moyes will hope continues: a fit Vidic-and-Ferdinand is a foundation that gives the very best chance of claiming trophies.
Jonathan Wilson, for Sports Illustrated, felt that starting Schurrle was a clear message, and also commented on the German’s lack of influence in the game:
Before the game Mourinho spoke of the “mobility” Schurrle offered — which seemed a fairly damning indication of his opinion of Fernando Torres and, given his predilection for politicking, perhaps contained a message to Roman Abramovich about the need to bring in another forward.
Schurrle touched the ball only 11 times in the first half — fewer than any other player —
Sky Sport’s Carragher feels Torres will not get many chances under Mourinho:
You could say it’s the end [for Fernando Torres] at Chelsea. I didn’t think he’d have too great a time with Mourinho. As soon as Jose came in, his quotes were quite negative about Torres… [In 2008-9] you wouldn’t have swapped him for anyone. But now? He can’t even get on the pitch… I don’t think we’ll ever see Torres come back to player we did see several years ago against Vidic at Old Trafford.
Martin Samuel, commenting for the Daily Mail, felt the match was poor, mainly due to Mourinho’s tactics:
Manchester United picked Wayne Rooney. Chelsea picked what is known in modern football parlance as a false nine. The crowd might as well have picked fluff out of their navels. A game that promised plenty, at the very least a compelling tactical battle, delivered less than the sum of its parts.
Henry Winter, writing for The Telegraph, kept in line with the common theme of a disappointing game and Rooney’s performance:
This game, the first goalless draw in the Premier League at Old Trafford since May 2009, deserved only a one-star rating but that one star was Wayne Rooney.