Champions League would make amends, says Rooney

Wayne Rooney speaks to the media in Piraeus, Greece. Picture: Getty
Wayne Rooney speaks to the media in Piraeus, Greece. Picture: Getty
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Wayne Rooney wants to end the pain that has been caused by Manchester United’s dreadful season by winning the Champions League for a second time.

United return to Champions League action tonight when they play the first leg of their last-16 clash against Olympiakos in Greece.

As they are 11 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, winning the Champions League could end up being the easiest route back into the competition next year.

With Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid all expected to feature in the quarter-finals, United are 25-1 shots to win the competition with some bookmakers.

But one of the reasons Rooney signed a new five-and-a-half year deal with United was because he thinks he can win more winner’s medals with the club and thinks this could be United’s year.

“We’ve certainly got the quality in the team to go really far so hopefully we can do that,” the United striker said.

“We’ve been excellent in the Champions League this year and hopefully we can take that into the game tomorrow night.”

Rooney looked destined to leave United last summer, but he has buried the hatchet with manager David Moyes and is sure the Scot is the right man to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.

Rooney may have been at United for ten years now, but his appetite for glory has not diminished. “You always want to win it,” said Rooney, who was part of the United team that beat Chelsea in the final six years ago. “One is never enough, especially at this club. We need to keep trying to get into finals.

“The feeling you get when you win a trophy is incredible so you don’t want to stop at one. I grew up all my life wanting to win trophies. That’s the main aim. That’s what you’ll be judged on when you finish your career.”

For all the talk of promise under Moyes, Rooney did accept that he and his team-mates have not performed well enough for the man who was hand-picked for the role by Sir Alex Ferguson last year.

“As a group of players we have to take responsibility for our league position,” Rooney added. “We know we’re better than that and we haven’t performed as well as we can do.

“We know that and it hurts. Now it’s important we finish the season strongly and take some momentum into next year, but more importantly get into fourth spot and do well in the Champions League.”

Moyes confirmed that injured defenders Phil Jones and Jonny Evans have not travelled with the squad to face Olympiakos, who are unbeaten at the top of the Greek Super League this season. Midfielder Nani is also unavailable because of a hamstring injury, but Rafael and Danny Welbeck are back following their respective head and knee problems.

In tonight’s other last-16 tie, Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund travel to Russia to take on Zenit St Petersburg.

Zenit would appear to be rank outsiders against last season’s runners-up after scraping through the group stage with a measly six points, the lowest-ever total with which a team has reached the round of 16. They will also be rusty after a two-month winter break and will have to close part of the Petrovsky stadium as a punishment for racist behaviour by their fans in a group match against Austria Vienna.