Air scare as Manchester United aim to fly high in Germany
Manchester United suffered a scare on their arrival in Germany when they had to abort their landing at Cologne airport.
Their Monarch Airlines airbus had dropped to a height of 400 metres as it prepared to land, when the plane suddenly took off again, briefly prompting eerie echoes of the Munich Disaster of 1958.
It is understood that a number of passengers expressed their concern and, while a stewardess initially said there had not been a problem, the captain later came onto the speakers to confirm he had been forced to abort the landing as there was another plane on the runway.
United's entire first-team squad and coaching staff were on board ahead of this evening's Champions League fixture with Bayer Leverkusen.
However, neither Sir Alex Ferguson nor Sir Bobby Charlton, who on Monday paid tribute to fellow Munich survivor Bill Foulkes following his death, were travelling, even though they are both due to attend the game at the BayArena.
"Landed in Germany .... just .... I've only just recovered after that choppy landing!" defender Rio Ferdinand posted on Twitter.
Other passengers were rather more graphic in their descriptions of the incident.
"That was not pleasant," said one. "Nobody really knew what was going on, but everything seemed calm and then the plane suddenly took off again."
Thankfully, the aircraft eventually landed without further incident at 1740 local time.
It was not the ideal start to what manager David Moyes acknowledges is the "big job" ahead of his side as they seek to book a place in the last 16.
The forecast for Leverkusen this evening is sub-zero temperatures, but Wayne Rooney will be glowing like the Ready Brek kid.
He has, said Moyes approvingly last night, "got the fire in his belly back". While the Manchester United manager added, "I don't want him kicking people," he made the point that Rooney is at his best when he is being aggressive on the pitch.
Rooney might have been dismissed within the opening 10 minutes at Cardiff City Stadium for kicking out at Jordon Mutch, but after been booked he scored one of United's goals and made the other.
Moyes said: "I think Wayne's form, attitude and temperament have been first-class this season. I couldn't fault any of them. There will always be times when players have little moments when they don't always quite go for them. On Sunday Wayne was probably a little bit fortunate but I don't want him to change.
"I don't want him to be kicking at anybody, but I want him aggressive, challenging and full of running. I want Wayne to have fire in his belly. I think he plays better when he's tough and aggressive. I think at the moment we're seeing a really good Wayne Rooney who's in top form and scoring goals.
"It's a big part of his game. He's an aggressive player, he plays with his heart, as well as the skills he's got in abundance. That's a big part of what he is. That's the way he was when he was a boy at Everton with me.
"A lot of people said that might have been missing from his game last season – it's certainly not missing now. He's got the hunger back and the desire back and he's committed for everything. I'd rather have a Wayne Rooney that way than any other way."
United will progress to the last 16 of the competition with a win – or a draw, should Shakhtar Donetsk improbably lose at home to Real Sociedad.
However, should they lose tonight and Shakhtar win, United will need at least a draw, and possibly a win, at home to the dangerous Ukrainians on December 10.