The new season suddenly did not look so rosy for Manchester United last night after it was found that Ruud van Nistelrooy will miss the next month because of a hernia.
The Dutch striker, the club's top scorer last season, will have an operation next week in an attempt to cure the problem.
He played for his country at Euro 2004, scoring four goals. The news came on the evening United's Vodafone Cup tie with Urawa Red Diamonds was called off because of the threat of thunder and lightning at Old Trafford. United later agreed to refund all 15,000 supporters who bought tickets for the match at the cost of £300,000.
With only Sunday's Community Shield with Arsenal coming before United go to Romania for their Champions' League qualifying match against Dinamo Bucharest, there are fitness concerns for Sir Alex Ferguson.
Darren Fletcher - who was due to start last night's game - has not made a single appearance, while Paul Scholes, who was United's captain last night, has only played an hour.
Arsenal, on the other hand, were given some heartening news by their winger Fredrik Ljungberg on a day when the Patrick Vieira transfer saga was still in the balance and the legality of the transfer of Mathieu Flamini came into question.
Ljungberg insisted that he has no intention of leaving. "I don't know where these stories about me leaving have come from. I enjoy playing football here," he said. "I have never had a conversation with the boss at any time about wanting to leave,"
Arsenal and Real look to be involved in a battle of wills over Vieira. The Spanish club had hoped to sign the 28-year-old before 11am yesterday - the deadline to register him for the third qualifying round of the Champions' League. Real have until the transfer window closes on 31 August to ensure that Vieira is available for the group stages.
Marseille insisted yesterday that there is a problem over Arsenal's signing of the French midfielder Mathieu Flamini and may call in the sport's world governing body, Fifa, to adjudicate.