Latest twist in season that will make or break Rooney

Ian Herbert sees the great hope of both club and country add to his goal tally before again succumbing to injury

Famous last words. Sir Alex Ferguson said he'd take a defeat if it brought him a goal but he wasn't expecting United to cede vast periods of possession, losing the game in the "terrible" way they did (the manager's word) and then losing Wayne Rooney.

Ferguson and United will come to reflect that a 2-1 away defeat is a result they can take into a second leg with some confidence. That's the bright side. First, a couple of days' fretting over the dark prospect of losing Rooney. The first impression of his injury was ghastly, given that Mario Gomez had trodden on the striker's left foot seconds before Rooney pulled up. The metatarsal break during the build up to the 2006 World Cup finals springs immediately to mind, given that it is just over 10 weeks before England's opening World Cup match on 12 June against the United States – and given England's injury luck in recent months.

Rooney was tracking a run by Gomez when they came together and it was by turning his right ankle badly on landing that he injured himself. United will reflect that the decision to stay in Munich overnight, thereby avoiding putting Rooney's ankle through an immediate flight, was a good one; but the injury contributes to the impression that Rooney, with the relentless effort levels he puts in, is an injury waiting to happen.

Ferguson suggested last Friday that the player's knee tendon complaint, which was first mentioned after last month's Carling Cup final and led him to miss last month's game at Wolves, was not a problem, but his assistant Mike Phelan acknowledged at the weekend that he had missed training sessions last week. Here was a night when some of the frustrations which have been less visible amid this astonishing 34-goal season resurfaced – and they are not always good for his health.

He had also been unhappy in Milan last month, when the first half service to him was so poor that he implied he had had words with some of his team-mates – the clear impression being that Nani was on the receiving end. But that was European away competition as United know it, an attritional form of football to which they have adapted their game to win six straight games on continental soil before this defeat.

Last night's challenge was alien; a Bayern side hardly befitting the title "quarter-finalists" as they allowed Rooney all the time in the world to smash in his volley from Nani's cross on 64 seconds. United appeared disconcerted by the notion of being initially so much the better side, with Bayern the ones forced to up the momentum and press high up the field. United's game fell into raggedness – Nani, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick all surrendering easy possession – and becoming overwhelmed in the midfield.

Then, just when United seemed to have escaped, Franck Ribéry belatedly fired into life. Park Ji-sung had been billeted to deal with him, though the threat was so infrequent in the first half that United could have been lulled into a false sense of insecurity. It was off Rooney that Ribéry's free-kick took a deflection to bring Bayern fortuitously level, and Rooney being Rooney he hammered himself even harder after that. The foot Gomez placed on the top of his left boot as they ran through midfield together might have contributed to the ankle twist. The injury occurred so quickly afterwards that he seemed to have quickened his stride in reaction to it.

Now for an anxious few days waiting for the swelling to go down. The title race is so close that we might conclude that Gomez's challenge was a major turning point because Dimitar Berbatov, with 12 goals this season, will certainly not cause Chelsea the anxiety Rooney would as a loan striker on Saturday lunchtime. Will Ferguson be able to risk him? Might he conclude that a gamble is worth it, since United ought to overcome Bayern 1-0 at Old Trafford without him? Seasons can turn on such moments as last night's.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions