Wayne Rooney believes that Manchester United can approach Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich in confident mood after their comfortable 4-1 victory over Aston Villa.
Rooney scored twice, with Juan Mata registering his first goal for the club and Javier Hernandez also finding the target as United cancelled out an early Villa goal from Ashley Westwood in Saturday’s game.
The build-up to the fixture had been dogged by talk of supporter protests against United manager David Moyes, and a plane was flown over Old Trafford during the game towing a banner calling for him to be replaced.
But Rooney felt that the victory, as well as the size of the challenge facing United against European champions Bayern, can serve as an inspiration for his faltering club.
“It is a massive game,” said the England striker. “The quarter-final of the Champions League, against the champions. We are excited and looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good game and hopefully a good result.”
Rooney’s brace against Villa took him to 171 career goals in the Premier League — fourth on the all-time list — but the striker preferred to discuss a victory that arrested United’s recent crisis.
“Obviously that is great, but today (Saturday) was a big game for us,” he added. “After (losing 3-0 to Manchester City) mid-week, we had to respond and show what a good team we really are.”
Right-back Rafael da Silva suffered a first-half leg injury against Villa, forcing him to be substituted and making him a doubt for Tuesday’s game with Bayern.
The Brazilian’s absence would be especially problematic as his likely replacement, Antonio Valencia, missed the Villa game with tendonitis.
“We have a lot of defenders missing,” Moyes said.
“We will have to wait and see how they are tomorrow. We need to check Rafael out and Valencia has tendonitis in his knee, which is why he wasn’t available. I knew if we lost a full-back we could be struggling today.”
MOYES HAILS KAGAWA
With Patrice Evra suspended against Bayern, Moyes could have Alexander Buttner as his only fit specialist full-back for the Bavarians’ visit.
One selection dilemma that faces Moyes is whether to keep Japanese international Shinji Kagawa in his starting line-up after he impressed against Villa.
“I thought Shinji played very well at West Ham (a 2-0 win) last week,” said Moyes. “Today he made a really good pass for Juan for the penalty kick (Rooney’s second goal).
“I’m pleased and we want to see more from Shinji in those situations. That’s the type of player he is. He’s technically gifted and can create situations.”
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was left to bemoan a series of missed chances, especially by the normally prolific Christian Benteke.
But even though his team failed to become the seventh club to win a league game at Old Trafford this season, he did admit that visiting the ground may not be the onerous task it once was.
“It’s hard to say,” said the Scot. “This football club is littered with success for the last 20 years. Just over a season, it can rock a little bit. That can happen in football.
“Look at the crowd they’ve got. They’ve still got top-class players, but maybe at this moment teams are coming here and giving it a go.”
Benteke missed three glorious chances to equalise, with United leading 2-1, but with 29 goals in less than 60 games in his Villa career to date, the Belgian striker was spared from criticism by his manager.
“Some fantastic chances fell to the big lad, who’s normally lethal from that distance,” said Lambert.
“I can’t be too critical of Christian. He’s scored some vital goals for us the last 18 months and he will come back stronger for this.”