On April 7 2010, Manchester United faced Bayern Munich in the second-leg of the Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford.
They were supposed to be without Wayne Rooney, who had suffered an ankle ligament injury in the first-leg in Germany. But instead the England international completed a remarkable recovery to make the starting line-up and inspire his side to a 3-0 lead in double-quick time.
Ultimately it would not be enough, with Arjen Robben’s spectacular strike the final nail in United’s European hopes for another season. But almost four years to the day of Rooney’s unexpected appearance, David Moyes revealed the United striker could again be fighting a battle to be fit for their biggest match of the season.
Rooney may not always score, but he rarely fails to inspire, and if United are to finish the job they started last week in Manchester, they will surely need their talisman on the pitch.
In ruling Rooney out of United’s match against Newcastle United with a toe injury, Moyes also sowed the seeds of doubt for Wednesday’s game.
“It could be a problem for the Munich match,” he said.
“We’ll get him treatment all over the weekend and see if we can speed it up.”
But considering Bayern are already believed to be suffering some kind of hoodoo when it comes to English clubs, a possible repeat of Rooney rising from the treatment table will surely add extra worry to a side who were strong favourites from the moment the draw was made…but whose odds are now beginning to waver.
Of course Rooney may not make it, in which case there were no mind-games, just bad luck. But if he does, if his absence from this weekend’s squad was more precaution than necessity, then perhaps Moyes is learning how to be United manager quicker than some gave him credit for.
After all, he looked at home competing against Pep Guardiola last week, and if he can get the better of both him and his team in the deciding tie, this season could go down as the start of something great, rather than the beginning of something anything but.