Did Moyes’ Rooney gamble cost Manchester United the tie?

 

After losing to Bayern Munich 3-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate, Manchester United boss David Moyes admitted that Wayne Rooney had struggled due to his toe injury.

The United frontman had been a doubt before the game after picking up a badly bruised toe which had kept him out of not only their game against Newcastle at the weekend but training in the run-up to the game as well.

On the night United took the lead, going ahead on aggregate and cancelling out Bayern’s away goal after Patrice Evra’s wonderstrike. While Bayern hit back almost immediately, just a few minutes later Wayne Rooney had a chance to draw the game level on the night and put United ahead on away goals.

The chance fell to him inside the Bayern box and he connected poorly when you might have been fairly certain he would have made the effort count. He seemed tentative as he struck the ball and, as a result, the effort was harmless.

Rooney was a peripheral figure on the evening, some distance from the player who had really got stuck in to Bayern in the home leg. Despite that, he still managed to get himself in to a great position on two occasions when he could have altered the tie.

After the game Moyes said

“I was concerned that Wayne had not trained all week and he had taken an injection. At times it looked like it was a struggle striking the ball on a couple of occasions.

“But he is so vital a player to us. He is so important, especially with Robin van Persie out just now. He had a couple of opportunities but couldn’t quite take them.”

Of course, there’s no saying United would have gone on to win had Rooney put those chances away, but a fully fit player in the same position would have posed Bayern a few tougher questions. Bayern Munich simply seemed to step up a gear after United took the lead, but that’s not always to say football games go the way of the better side or the one with the most possession. Despite being outplayed, United still carved out chances in both legs.

At what point do you take off a clearly injured player who isn’t at his best? Is a half-fit Rooney better than a fully-fit Hernandez?

David Moyes seems to think so.

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Lee Hurley

Writer specialising in good football and bad relationships. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.