X

Wayne Rooney: Manchester United the 'One Team I Wanted' for Derby in FA Cup

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2020

DERBY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21: Wayne Rooney of Derby County in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Fulham at Pride Park Stadium on February 21, 2020 in Derby, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Derby County forward Wayne Rooney has said Manchester United were the "one team" he wanted to draw in the FA Cup fifth round.

The Red Devils will visit the second-tier side on Thursday, seeking to progress into the quarter-finals. The tie will see them go head-to-head with their all-time record goalscorer.

Rooney told Mark Froggatt of United's website he was hoping that he would get the chance to go up against his former side again:

"I can't wait! Obviously, the draw, the one team I wanted was Manchester United. We were on the coach, actually, going to the hotel the night before a game when the draw was taking place and there was a cheer when United came out. 

"It is a great draw for us, having United come to our ground and for the fans it is a great game to go to. For us as a team it is a great challenge for us to come up against Manchester United, to see if we can beat them. It is a challenge but it is something we are all looking forward to."

Here is more of what the 34-year-old had to say about Thursday's match at Pride Park:

Manchester United @ManUtd

Good to hear from you, @WayneRooney 😄 The United legend's big interview with @WesBrown24 is perfect viewing ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie... #MUFC

Rooney is in the early stages of his time with Derby and has moved clubs frequently since his departure from United in 2017. The former England captain returned to boyhood club Everton before departing for D.C. United in the summer of 2018. Rooney then joined Derby in January, where he has assumed the role of player-coach.

Overall, he's enjoyed a strong start to life at the Championship club and recently marked his 500th game in English football with a fine goal:

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

5⃣0⃣0⃣ games in English football... 1⃣ Panenka penalty! Wayne Rooney marked a landmark appearance with an ice-cold finish but couldn't seal all 3 points for Derby in Friday night's clash with Fulham: https://t.co/y7JAL13T5C https://t.co/SOyhAU5YcY

Although he will be determined to propel the Rams into the next round of the competition, there will no doubt be plenty of adulation for Rooney from the visiting supporters on Thursday. After all, not only is he the top goalscorer in the club's history with 253 goals, but he also won the UEFA Champions League with United, five Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League/EFL Cups, among other honours.

On the eve of the match, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he expects Rooney to provide a threat:

Simon Peach @SimonPeach

Solskjaer on Rooney: “He’s a threat in & around the box, set plays – & of course this game Wayne will show what he can do and he wants to prove that there’s still fight in an old dog. We’ve got to be on our toes, don’t give him any space in & around the box or in midfield" #MUFC

The Red Devils' priority this season will be pushing for a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot in the Premier League, although Solskjaer will be conscious of the fact that he has yet to win silverware as United manager.

Rooney may be past his best, but he's shown enough since leaving United to prove he can still be decisive in these types of matches. Given he's unlikely to come up against such high-calibre opposition many more times in his career, there should be plenty of fire on display from the Red Devils icon.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.