United are back in action on Thursday night and this time it is the FA Cup. We travel to Derby County and a surprise match-up against record goalscorer Wayne Rooney.
Derby won’t be pushovers and we know from last season when then beat us in the Carabao Cup that we can’t take them lightly.
Ahead of the trip to Pride Park Stadium we spoke to Tom Thorogood of Derby County News about the match.
What should we expect from Wayne Rooney?
Tom: “Wayne Rooney has been deployed mainly as a holding midfielder. He has played at stages as a number 10, but it became quickly evident how he is far more involved in a quarterback-type role.
“He no longer possesses that raw pace and power. However, he hasn’t lost any of those technical abilities and it’s only now mixed in with Championship players can we appreciate just how good he is.
“His ball control, movement, vision and passing ability goes far beyond this level. If you don’t press him, he will control proceedings and make Derby tick in Phillip Cocu’s Dutch possession-based style.
“It is no coincidence that since Rooney’s arrival, Derby have lost just three of their last 14 games in all competitions and saw off Crystal Palace with a commanding performance at Selhurst Park in round three.”
Why should United be worried about Derby and who are the key players to watch?
Tom: Derby have confidence and momentum. Arguably the biggest factor, though, is that the game is at Pride Park where Derby boast a decent record.
No Championship team has lost fewer home games and the Rams this season.
“Tom Lawrence has proven on his day he can mix it with the best outside the Premier League.
“Being a former United youngster, I’m sure he would love to make an impact. With nine goals already this season, one more and he will have posted his best goal scoring season of his career.”
From the outside, what do you think of where United are at the moment?
Tom: “I have been impressed with United’s record against the better teams this season. It seems clear Solskjaer has built a team to attack the space behind and hurt teams on the counterattack.
“But when it comes to beating the lesser teams, United have really struggled. Derby will be aware of this and it could give the Rams further confidence of pulling off a shock.
“Solskjaer needs more time and the backing to strengthen the squad. Signs of improvement are there, while United still have so much to play for this season with the top four now a realistic aim and the FA Cup and Europa League offering a chance of silverware.”
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