Wayne Rooney returns to Old Trafford this afternoon in what promises to be a special occasion.
The 31-year-old is Man United’s all-time top scorer and an undoubted club legend having scored 253 goals in 559 games over 13 seasons.
However, United have not planned any special arrangements to mark Rooney’s return as an opponent.
There were rumours of a possible guard of honour or on-pitch presentation before kick-off but those plans have been rejected.
Rooney doesn’t even feature on the cover of the official match programme — that honour belongs to ex-Everton forward Romelu Lukaku.
And it’s possible that Cristiano Ronaldo may have something to do with it.
The Portuguese superstar returned to Old Trafford in 2013 for a Champions League game between United and Real Madrid.
At the time, Sir Alex Ferguson asked the stadium announcer to go against convention and read out the visiting team’s line-up second so that Ronaldo’s name would be announced last to a mighty cheer from both sets of fans.
Fergie had hoped that the emotion of the occasion would negatively impact Ronaldo’s performance but it only seemed to spur him on.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner scored what proved to be a decisive goal in United’s elimination from the competition.
United want to avoid motivating Rooney, who has often performed at his best when emotionally charged throughout his career.
This is unlikely to be Rooney’s final appearance at Old Trafford and the club have therefore decided that the fans’ ovation will be a suitable tribute.
Jose Mourinho has spoke kindly of his former player in the build-up to the Premier League clash, calling Rooney a ‘legend’ and saying he deserves a fitting welcome home.