Olympiakos v Manchester United: Wayne Rooney says United can 'do a Chelsea' and win the Champions League this season

Winning this season's tournament might be United's best hope of ensuring they are part of the Champions League next season

Athens

Wayne Rooney declared on Monday night that Manchester United could take heart from Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012 – a year when their poor domestic form left them sixth in the Premier League, the spot United currently occupy – and raised the prospect of his side also going all the way to another final.

Rooney, who said he could not contemplate the idea of lifting Europe’s elite trophy only once, said United could match the west London side’s achievement in Lisbon on 24 May. “The year Chelsea won, they nearly went out of the competition three times, so you have to keep going whether we get the right result or not,” Rooney said.

Liverpool finished fifth in the Premier League when they won the Champions League in 2005.

The Olympiakos coach, Michel, said that he sensed a weakness and uncertainty in United that made them ripe to exploit, ahead of the two clubs’ last 16 first leg in Athens tonight. “We know Manchester United are not allowed to make any mistakes due to their position in the English Premier League and we have to say probably this kind of situation may weigh too much on their players’ shoulders,” the Spaniard said.

The Greek Super League is one of the weakest in Europe – 12th in the Uefa coefficient table – but the 20-point lead Olympiakos have opened at the top of it sends them into tonight’s tie brimming with confidence.

 

The United manager, David Moyes, has new-found ammunition to counter with: the totemic influence of Rooney and Robin van Persie in harness – tonight playing their fifth successive game for the first time since last April. The pair have never played more than five consecutive games for United and their continued fitness does have the potential for United to begin firing at last.

The club have lost only twice on the 36 occasions the two have started together in the past two seasons, winning 26 of those games. It was more than the customary press conference propaganda when Moyes said of the two that “they score in the big games and make the big moments”.

Olympiakos v Manchester United match preview

For Moyes, United’s European campaign has provided an escape from the often desperate business at home. His side were undefeated in the course of winning their group – and have won on their last three visits to Greece.

The manager would not say the tournament was an opportunity to put a gloss on the season, refusing as he always does to look publicly beyond the next game. But Rooney did hold out the notion of Europe triggering something better.

United have to make good on their Rooney rights

“As a group of players we have to take responsibility for the league position we are in,” he said. “We know we are better than that. We haven’t performed as well as we can do and it hurts when as a team you know you can do better. It’s most important that we finish the season strong, get that fourth spot and progress far into the Champions League. That’s important to us all.”

Suggested Topics
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?