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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 07:00 GMT
Rooney told to expect torrid time
By Dan Warren

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16
Wayne Rooney
Man Utd v AC Milan
Old Trafford
Wed 23 Feb (KO 1945 GMT)
First leg coverage on BBC Radio Five Live and this website
Ex-AC Milan striker Mark Hateley has urged Wayne Rooney to keep his cool when Manchester United host the Italians in their Champions League tie.

Hateley said experienced defenders like Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta may try to wind up the volatile teenager.

"They know all the tricks, pinching your arm, standing on your toes, all that sort of stuff," he told BBC Sport.

"We have seen what Wayne Rooney's temperament is like and it's quite possible he'll snap again."

Hateley, who played 66 times during four years at Milan during the 1980s, said Ruud van Nistelrooy's return to Manchester United's first team could be the key.

"Rooney's done a fantastic job while Van Nistelrooy has been out, but when you get to this level and you're playing against the likes of Nesta and Maldini, you need your top players," he said.

"I just think it's important that they have the experience of Van Nistelrooy to play alongside him.

"The stage is set for a player like Ruud, even if he can only play 45 minutes.

Ferguson will be rubbing his hands at the prospect of putting one over on AC Milan
Mark Hateley

"It's important that his name is down on the team sheet because he is a talisman for Manchester United."

Hateley warned United they would struggle to open up a Milan defence which has conceded just four goals away from home in Serie A.

"I feel it could suit Milan better to play away from home, because with the likes of Rui Costa playing, anything can happen - two passes and it's a goal," he added.

But Hateley admitted Milan would struggle to replace talismanic striker Andriy Shevchenko, who will miss the first leg after fracturing a cheekbone and an eye socket.

"Shevchenko is as important to Milan as Van Nistelrooy is for United. If you give him half a chance, he'll score two goals. That's how good he is."

United will be playing the Italian giants for the first time since the Champions League began in 1992-93.

But Hateley said that United boss Ferguson would relish the chance to take on Milan, despite the obvious threat to his side.

"I think AC Milan is Ferguson's last great challenge, they're another footballing institution. Like United, Milan are one of the bastions of football," he said.

"I think he'll be rubbing his hands at the prospect of putting one over on them."


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