Wayne Rooney is back in action and using his head. Manchester United launched their build-up to the defence of their Premier League title with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Aberdeen, Rooney winning a penalty for the opening goal and nodding in the second himself.
The bustling England striker was quicker into his stride than his team-mates, having three shots at goal in the first 10 minutes against the club where Sir Alex Ferguson first made his name as a manager by winning the European Cup-Winners Cup 25 years ago.
The home goalkeeper Jamie Langfield pulled Rooney down just before half-time as he tried to get on the end of a defence-splitting pass by Michael Carrick, who converted the penalty. Rooney headed home the second from a cross by Darren Fletcher in the 69th minute.
Ferguson praised his former No 2, Carlos Queiroz, who has left Old Trafford to manage Portugal. "It's always disappointing to lose good men and he was a good man," said the Scot. "He was honest and very loyal to me and a good coach. He brought a lot of initiatives that we now carry on.
"He has taken a challenge on that people do, if they have that patriotic passion and the nationalist fervour to go and manage their country. He's got that. I knew when Portugal came for him that it would be very difficult for us."
Liverpool are also fretting over filling gaps, but theirs are in their first-team squad. They left their stars at home when they went to Tranmere yesterday for their gentle opener, which was settled by a Yossi Benayoun goal from an angled shot. The manager Rafael Benitez has his first-team plans far from complete with talks over signing Gareth Barry and Robbie Keane rumbling on.
The Spaniard, who takes his squad to Switzerland today for a fortnight-long training camp, said: "We are still working hard to bring in two more players. I would hope that there would be some progress next week or very soon."
Benitez was happy with his players' fitness levels, Benayoun's "fantastic" goal, Daniel Agger's comeback and the debuts of Philipp Degen and his £3m goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri, who came on for the second half.
Chelsea also gave their reserves a run-out at Aldershot but the real attention of the new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari rested on the future of first-team players, notably Frank Lampard.
Internazionale's president Massimo Moratti claims it is now up to Lampard whether he abandons his Chelsea contract and follows his former manager Jose Mourinho to Milan.
"We have made our offer to Chelsea, now it will depend on the player," Moratti said. "He is an element we like, but more than this we cannot do. But we are strong and I am happy with what we have done in the transfer market until now."
Everton and Aston Villa lost on their pre-season tours of Switzerland. Everton went down 1-0 to Sion in their first outing since returning to training while Villa were beaten 2-1 by Zurich on the final match of their trip.
Villa, who begin their Intertoto Cup campaign next week, were made to pay for conceding two penalties as Steve Sidwell made his debut following his move from Chelsea. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored their goal.