Sir Alex Ferguson has rejected fears that Wayne Rooney may be distracted from Manchester United’s Champions League mission by UEFA’s disciplinary hearing into his three-match international suspension later this week.
Rooney will learn tomorrow whether his appeal against the suspension handed down for his dismissal in England’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro in October has been successful, with the FA hopeful the punishment will be reduced.
The hearing is an unwanted distraction for United manager Ferguson, coming as it does just a day after his side face a crucial Champions League clash with Basle.
But with United still requiring a point from their final game against the Swiss champions to reach the last 16, and both Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez ruled out by injury, Ferguson expects Rooney to focus on club matters tonight.
“I don’t think that comes into it at all,” said Ferguson when asked if the hearing was likely to affect Rooney’s focus. “He has an important game.”
Of more significance to Ferguson is his side’s impressive away record in Europe. Since losing the second leg of their semi-final against AC Milan in 2007, United have suffered just one defeat in 23 away matches – to Bayern Munich two seasons ago.
It is that form Ferguson will rely on as his side look to avoid a repeat of what befell them in their first encounter with Basle in September, when they threw away a two-goal lead and needed a last-gasp Ashley Young leveller to earn a 3-3 draw.
“There was obvious complacency in the game when it went 2-0,” said Ferguson. “We showed a lack of discipline in the second half.
“Fortunately we managed to waken up late in the game to get a result which has maybe rescued us in this section.”
Manchster City, who are third in Group A, need to beat already-qualified Bayern Munich to have any hope of progressing to the knockout stage.
Even if they do win, they need Villarreal to claim their first point of the competition against Napoli to reach the last 16.
Mancini has been realistic about his side’s Champions League prospects since they were beaten at Napoli’s San Paolo Stadium a fortnight ago.
He is well aware they could drop into the Europa League and is prepared to put the campaign down to experience, but he is not giving up hope and thinks City could still be a threat.
He said: “After the draw we knew that it would be a difficult group and I think we made some mistakes in this group. But we have another game – never say never. I think we should think only of beating Bayern Munich.”