Three questions for United ahead of facing Derby County

Manchester United travel to Championship outfit Derby County tonight seeking a place in the FA Cup quarter finals.

The FA Cup represents Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s only chance of bringing domestic silverware to Old Trafford this season.

United have been handed a winnable draw against a mid-table side from the division below but there are still questions for Solskjaer to answer if he is to get the win.

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Can United keep Rooney quiet?

Wayne Rooney facing his former club will dominate plenty of the agenda before the match.

It may get tiresome for the observer but for Solskjaer, the concern will be that Rooney is at the centre of much of what Derby do.

At his age, he wants to pick the ball up from deep and spray passes around and he can also be a threat from set pieces.

It almost seems written in the stars Rooney will influence proceedings in some way and Solskjaer has to ensure he’s put under intense pressure and not given much time or space.

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Stick with the diamond?

Solskjaer went in with a midfield diamond against Everton, but United lost control of the match as it went on.

Against a side from a lower division, the emphasis will likely be on United to make the running.

That may require pace and speed out wide and Derby may be quite content if United are content to funnel their attacking play through the middle.

With Scott McTominay back in the fold, United do have good central midfield options and have struggled for consistency out wide without Marcus Rashford.

That poses a tactical dilemma that Solskjaer needs to get to grips with during a tie which is a potential banana skin.

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Can United start fast?

The home match against Club Brugge is the only one since the winter break in which United have started well and even then the visitors could have scored or had a penalty before Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring.

In all the others, United have been sluggish from the off and that might be dangerous in front of a rowdy crowd under the lights.

Derby will be up for it and a strong start to the game is often key in setting the tone of a cup tie.

Even if Solskjaer makes changes, United have to start on the front foot, looking to set the tempo.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.