Rooney is a future United boss, says Solskjaer
- Wayne Rooney will be "relishing" the chance to face Manchester United once again and will coach for years to come, says former team-mate Michael Carrick.
- Rooney, 34, is back in England with Derby County who host the 12-time winners in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday.
Wayne Rooney will be “relishing” the chance to face Manchester United once again and will coach for years to come, says former team-mate Michael Carrick.
Rooney, 34, is back in England with Derby County who host the 12-time winners in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday.
“It will be strange I’m sure for him,” Carrick said. “But I’m sure he’s relishing it at the same time.
“You wouldn’t expect him to come back and play back in England again.”
United’s leading goalscorer Rooney left Old Trafford in 2017 after 13 years and spent a season back at boyhood club Everton before heading to DC United in Major League Soccer.
In January he returned to England to take up a player-coach role alongside Phillip Cocu at Derby, and Carrick – on the coaching staff with United – expects Rooney to continue behind the scenes.
“He knows the game so well, he’s intelligent on the pitch, and he’s gone on to lead like he did in his final years at United.
“As one of the older ones in the dressing room with me, he definitely took that role on. Therefore it wouldn’t surprise me if he stayed in the game for a long time.
“He was just an incredible talent when he came through, almost freakish in the way he could deal with things and his mentality was incredible.”
This will be the first time Rooney has faced United since playing for Everton in a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park in January 2018, while the striker has never scored in his six appearances against the Red Devils.
The last player to score an FA Cup goal against United having previously played for them was Danny Welbeck with Arsenal in March 2015.
“It is always strange if you play against a former team, especially as I was at Manchester United for such a long time, but it’s football,” Rooney told Derby’s club website.
“I love Manchester United and I want the team to do well and win, but for these 90 or 120 minutes, I want them to lose and for us to go through to the next round.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer added: “He gave absolutely everything for this club and we all appreciate that. But any goal he scores against us will be chalked off his goal tally. He doesn’t want to score too many of them.
“He’s a threat, in and around the box, set plays, and 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 and around the box or in midfield.”
Derby teenagers Louie Sibley and Morgan Whittaker are in the squad but the Rams remain without midfielder Tom Huddlestone who is sidelined with a calf injury.
United could be without winger Daniel James, who missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Everton with a knock, and full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has a back problem.
Midfielder Paul Pogba and forward Marcus Rashford remain on the sidelines.
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