The question has been raised repeatedly sequel to the game against old European rivals, Bayern Munich. In particular, the decision to include talismanic player Wayne Rooney in that crucial match has raised a lot of dust.
Why risk aggravating an injury sustained the previous week in order to enhance the chances of qualifying for the next round of the Champions League? Why risk the players future for that reason? Or, for that matter, his chances of playing at the World Cup in just a matter of weeks? Besides, England relies on him just as much as Manchester United.
Answering these questions will not be easy for Sir Alex but then, as the man in the driver's seat with difficult decisions to make, it's hard to second guess him. To begin with, it is hard to imagine the man risking the career of a player he has raised to this level on a whim.
The decision to play him must have been carefully weighed and even the harshest critic could see that Rooney made an impact at the beginning of the game, providing the pass that led to the first goal. Rooney’s match brief was obvious: one touch, nothing rugged.
The most crucial thing about him being on the pitch was his presence which bolstered team morale and fighting spirit. Let’s face it, his influence on club and country is that much. To limit Rooney’s contribution to running around or scoring goals is mundane. Rooney carries a great portion of the team spirit in him. The verve, strength, passion and spirit with which the players played were different on that night.
In terms of motivation, the coach got it right; medically speaking he couldn’t have done more. The risk was always that the opponent would aim for the injured leg, and that risk materialized. The part of the story that wasn’t so predictable was the red card given to young Rafael. That singular incident, and Rooney’s presence on the pitch, turned the game in Bayern Munich’s favor.
He took a calculated risk and it was working out until late in the game, but it didn’t pan out at the end of the day. Sir Alex Ferguson is renowned for his gambling spirit, but what has that earned the club? Yes, the need to construct more trophy cabinets.
So, back to the question; should he resign?
To tell the truth, with the recent signing of the Mexican lad, Hernandez, it’s obvious that the Old Scot isn’t putting in his retirement papers just yet.
And that’s good news.