"Paranoia swept the country," said Sir Alex Ferguson with a mixture of amusement and scorn. He was talking, of course, about the departure of his principal striker from last week's Champions' League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich, prompting front-page headlines like: "Nation holds its breath as Rooney hobbles off."
The English nation – as opposed to Ferguson's – has subsequently exhaled, though Manchester United's manager insists Rooney would be a greater loss to his country than his club. "We are well capable of doing without him," said Ferguson. "We don't want to, but we are capable of getting on with it." That is debatable after yesterday's defeat by Chelsea but the next test is the return leg on Wednesday, Bayern having secured their 2-1 victory in the final minute.
Ferguson said: "What they [Bayern] did was they kept us on the edge of our own penalty box for too long. But Wednesday will be different, we will be well motivated. That away goal means something."
Meanwhile the Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, who scored the winner against Wolves yesterday and set up both goals in the thrilling 2-2 Champions' League quarter-final against Barcelona last Wednesday, believes they can carry the momentum of that fightback into Tuesday's second leg.
Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are both suspended for the return game, and the striker said: "We have to try to take advantage of that, it's their captain and they'll miss him. Of course I believe we can win. We have the quality to score goals from everywhere."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored both of Barça's goals in midweek, will also miss the return leg after suffering a calf injury in the warm-up before the league leaders' 4-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao.
The week in Europe
Barcelona (2) v Arsenal (2) (7.45, Sky Sports 2)
How are Arsenal still in this tie? It will be even more extraordinary if they still are by Wednesday morning.
CSKA Moscow (0) v Internazionale (1) (5.30, Sky Sports 2)
Although Inter should have a bigger lead, the clean sheet should enable them to reach the semi-finals despite the artificial pitch.
Manchester United (1) v Bayern Munich (2) (7.45, ITV1)
Much weight on Dimitar Berbatov's shoulders once Wayne Rooney collapsed and Ivica Olic scored in the last minute of the first leg.
Bordeaux (1) v Lyon (3) (7.45, Sky Sports 2)
Bordeaux's away goal may not be good enough now they have conceded three to experienced opponents.
Liverpool (1) v Benfica (2) (8.05, Five)
Short of left-backs, Liverpool must contain Angel di Maria this time. And not concede soft penalties.
Wolfsburg (1) v Fulham (2) (8.05, ITV4)
Having survived from an identical position against Shakhtar Donetsk, Fulham's braves must do so again.Reuse content