Chosen One stands firm against the Special One; THE BIG ONE FALLS FLAT MAN UTD 0 CHELSEA 0.
OUT of the shadows of the Old Trafford tunnel and into the brilliance of the floodlight glare he strode, gazing around him as he walked.
The supporters rose as one to greet their new boss with a deafening round of applause and David Moyes raised a clenched fist in the air to acknowledge them.
He turned for a second to the Stretford End, the great bastion of Manchester United support, and glimpsed the giant banner strung over the second tier.
It was a picture of Moyes next to the message: The Chosen One.
The successor to Sir Alex Ferguson walked along the touchline for the first time as United boss, opposite the giant stand named in his predecessor's honour.
Opposite the reminders that they have won the Premier League title 20 times, opposite the tributes to the dead of Munich.
"Come on feel the noise," the Stretford End sang over and over again, "we love David Moyes."
Moyes got to the halfway line and saluted the crowd one more time. Then he turned to find Jose Mourinho waiting for him.
Mourinho had swaggered down the touchline a few minutes earlier, looking like he owned the place.
MOYES He had clapped a friendly arm around the shoulder of Ryan Giggs as d a d the gs as they walked, like the two of them were best pals.
And to make sure everyone felt the bonhomie, he did the same with new United coach Phil Neville.
Some wondered if there might be some coolness between Moyes and Mourinho after the Blues manager's relentless attempts to unsettle Wayne Rooney.
But if Moyes felt any inclination to avoid him, he did not get a chance to act on it.
Mouri of doub hug.
Mourinho gave him a kind of double high-five and a hug. He is the selfappointed elder statesman of the Premier League now.
Not that he has lost any of his talent as the best agent provocateur in the game.
His latest claim is that it is all Moyes' fault Chelsea have bid for Rooney.
If Moyes hadn't said he saw Rooney as a back-up for Robin van Persie, Mourinho said, he would never have tried to sign him.
When it comes to mind games over Rooney, though, Moyes played the biggest one of all last night: he picked him.
He picked him in the starting line-up against the side that covets him. He picked him against the team he is said to want to join.
It was a bold move. It had a nice dash of defiance in it. It said Moyes wasn't going to be pushed around by anyone.
It said he wasn't going to be dictated to by Mourinho.
Or by Rooney. It said, most of all, that he is the boss.
There was no sign of Ferguson last night.
He is at home recuperating from a hip operation. He may also have decided to give Moyes a little space.
And midway through the first half, even though it may have felt strange to some, for the first time in 27 years United's supporters did not sing about 'Alex Ferguson's red and white army'.
They sang about David Moyes' instead.
On the touchline, Moyes and Mourinho stood a few yards from each other but avoided each other assiduously.
Mourinho flung up his arms in despairing disbelief occasionally at a refereeing decision.
And when United fans belted out a chorus of 'Sit down Mourinho' he dismissed them with a wave of his hand.
Mourinho can do no wrong with Chelsea fans but it would have been interesting to see their reaction if Rafa Benitez had picked a side without a centre forward and with the club's leading creative talent, Juan Mata, left on the bench.
Mourinho's ultra-cautious team selection - Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku were also on the bench - set the tone for a stultifying first half.
On Twitter, former England striker Stan Collymore interpreted the selection as another message from Mourinho to Rooney.
"Wayne, have a look at us, lots of creativity for you, no strikers I really like. Come on, join us."
Mourinho's selection did its job, though.
It kept United at bay. It earned Chelsea an important point at the home of a team likely to be one of their main title rivals. But if the match was a victory for either manager, it was Moyes.
After all the build-up, provocation and pressure, he did not buckle.
He picked Rooney and, on a night when few stars shone, the England centre forward did.
It felt as if Moyes took another step towards keeping Rooney. And it felt as though he faced down Mourinho.
He refused to play the role of little boy patted on the head by the teacher. He refused to be patronised or pushed around.
So even if the match finished as a dull draw, to the man who was acclaimed for the first time by Old Trafford, it may have tasted more like victory.
you'rewelcome Moyes got a warm reception as Mourinho greets old rival Giggs
UNFRIENDLY FIRE A missile was thrown close to Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini at Old Trafford last night amid high security
THAT'S HANDY Moyes and Mourinho greet one another before kick-off
MOYES AND ROO UNITED ?New boss hails striker's display
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|Title Annotation:||Sport; Opinion, Columns|
|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 27, 2013|
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