Van Basten criticises Fergie for gambling on Rooney's fitness

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Dutch legend Marco van Basten admits he watched in ­horror as Sir Alex Ferguson put ­Wayne Rooney through 55 minutes of pain on Wednesday night.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney gestures during their Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Bayern Munich
Photo: AP Photo/Jon Super
Ferguson had earlier said that he would not risk Rooney's ankle injury, which was expected to keep him out for two to three weeks, but the striker was included in Manchester United’s starting line-up against Bayern Munich in midweek.

Rooney had declared ­himself fit but eventually limped out as Bayern KO'd his Champions League dream, and he now faces more time on the sidelines after ­aggravating the problem.

"When I saw Rooney limping against Bayern in the first few minutes I was begging for him to be substituted," van Basten said in The Daily Mirror.

"I still cannot believe why Alex Ferguson, who I rate highly as a manager, did not take him off.

"I’ve been where Rooney was. I know what it is like. If your ankle is damaged and you get another heavy tackle on it the pain is always with you.

"It can do more ­damage, and a great striker needs to feel free of pain, if you want him to ­perform."

Van Basten, the three-time European footballer of the year and voted world No.1 in 1992, is regarded as one of the greatest forwards of all time and scored 277 goals in a career cut short by injury.

He added: "I was watching every step Rooney took on the pitch. After hurting his ankle so badly again in the early ­minutes, I could see quite clearly that he spent the rest of his time walking on his heels. That means pain.

"A top-class striker normally plays up on his toes, so he can sprint or go for every ball that falls in his direction."

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