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Ratings: United beat Derby 2-1; Chong and Pellistri score with Heaton, Elanga, Mata and Shoretire also doing well

Manchester United beat Derby County 2-1 at Pride Park in the opening pre-season match this summer. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side was youthful, in both halves but they did the job and got the win, although fitness was the main thing to gain from the match. Tahith Chong opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the match with Tom Heaton making a few good saves in the first half. Facundo Pellistri scored United’s second goal, assisted by Shola Shoretire in the 59th minute. Colin Karim-Richards scored a consolation for the home side in the 70th minute of the match. Queens Park Rangers are next for United, playing on Saturday afternoon.

It was a good opening display from both United and Derby in their opening friendly of the summer. Solskjaer named a very young side with little experience but the signs were good from the off. Derby did try to get something from United in the early stages of the match by Tom Heaton made a good save to deny the home side from taking the lead. United then started to get themselves into the match, pushing forward through Juan Mata, who looks like he still has something to give this team, even if it is just experience. Derby nipped the attack down by Tahith Chong managed to punish the defender, grabbing the ball and slotting it into the back of the net to put United ahead in the 18th minute.

Juan Mata congratulates Tahith Chong for opening the scoring against Derby County

In the 37th minute of the match, approximately 20 minutes after the United goal, derby were building something in the United box, putting pressure on the defence. Heaton, once again, made a superb save to deny the home side from levelling the score. It just goes to show that even with a majority youth team on the pitch, United still have what it takes to get the better of some teams. Derby will no doubt be frustrated so far not to get a goal back, having ample opportunity to do so. United then started to pressure Derby once again, sitting on the edge of their box, pushing forward to find another opening. The half ended with United still 1-0 up after a decent first half for this toughly United team.

At the start of the second half, Solskjaer made nine changes to his starting XI. Lee Grant replaced Heaton, Ethan Galbraith, Alex Telles, Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira, Shola Shoretire, Facundo Pellistri, Jesse Lingard and Joe Hugill replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, James Garner, Dylan Levitt, Anthony Elanga, Juan Mata, Tahth Chong, and Mason Greenwood. It did not take long for United to double their lead with Pellistri, who spent last season on loan with Alaves in Spain, putting United 2-0 up in the 60th minute of the match. It was a good finish for the Uruguayan. Solskjaer made two further substitutions with Di’Shon Bernard and Will Fish replacing Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi.

Facundo Pellistri scores Manchester United’s second goal against Derby County

Derby got a goal back in the 70th minute of the match with Colin Karim-Richards thundering an effort past Lee Grant, who used to play for Derby before signing for United a few years back. The goalkeeper could not stop the effort from hitting the back of the net, which excited the Derby supporters in the stadium. Minutes later, Jesse Lingard almost restored the two-goal cushion for United, launching a strike on goal, which hit the crossbar and went back out into play. It was an unfortunate miss for the former academy player, who had a good loan spell with West Ham United in the second half of last season. It was a shame he did not score the goal, or the chance he had later in the match.

United had a few chances to score more goals but they never came. Derby seemed to tail off after their goal, which will give Wayne Rooney some problems ahead of the season commencing. He will be impressed with Teden Mengi, who he will want at Derby for the new season and Solskjaer will allow that to happen as the lad is a good prospect and will be seeking to achieve in the not too distant future. The match ended 2-1 to United with Tahith Chong and Facundo Pellistri scoring the goals and Colin Kazim-Richards scoring the consolation for the home side. United face Queens Park Rangers next Saturday in their second pre-season match. They will then face Brentford and Everton at Old Trafford with a trip to Preston North End in between.

Manchester United

22 Tom Heaton

Made a few good saves to deny Derby in the first half of the match, which gives the impression that Heaton is not here to be third choice goalkeeper. Replaced by Grant in the 46th minute.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

His defensive work rate is great but in an attacking sense, he needs to start improving on his crosses. However, with Jadon Sancho set to arrive this summer, this might help him, especially on the right flank. Replaced by Galbraith in the 46th minute.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

Played 60 minutes against Derby and did well defensively. I like Tuanzebe and think he's better than Jones but he's not played many minutes of late, which is why a loan spell seems to be a big option. Replaced by Bernard in the 60th minute.

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43 Teden Mengi

Played well against Derby, the club he was on loan with last season. A great prospect in defence for United. Solskjaer will be proud of him. Replaced by Fish in the 60th minute.

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33 Brandon Williams

Guilty of some rash challenges, as has been the case when he has played. If he gets rid of that from his game, he might be more of a choice at the club. Did well in the first half though. Replaced by Telles in the 46th minute.

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37 James Garner

Put in a shift in the midfield in what could be a breakthrough season for him. A loan spell could be the best option but you never know what Solskjaer has planned. Did well against Derby. Replaced by Matic in the 46th minute.

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35 Dylan Levitt

Played well against Derby following his loan spell away from United last season. Will be seeking another chance this season. Did what he needed to do as United led in the first half. Replaced by Pereira in the 46th minute.

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36 Anthony Elanga

Looks to be a start coming through the ranks and will get minutes this season, if he stays at United. A loan spell could be good for him though. His runs were top notch, as was seen in the last Premier League match last season. Replaced by Shoretire in the 46th minute.

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8 Juan Mata

Looked to still be seeking to offer something to United, even if it just ends up to be experience and leadership. His footballing brain is still working well. Started United's attack for the opener, but was disposed with Chong getting the ball and scoring. Replaced by Pellistri in the 46th minute.

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44 Tahith Chong

Opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the match. Mata started the attack but was dispossessed and Chong then bullied the defender, won the ball and found the back of the net easily. It was a good demonstration of his skill and ability. He will show more at Birmingham City on loan this season. Replaced by Lingard in the 46th minute.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Made many runs against Derby but in terms of scoring goals, it is early days for the teenager. He will grow in fitness and stature as the weeks progress. Replaced by Hugill in the 46th minute.

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Substitutes

13 Lee Grant

Replaced Heaton 46'. Conceded United's first goal in the 70th minute through Kazim-Richards. He was not going to save that though.

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54 Ethan Galbraith

Replaced Wan-Bissaka 46'. Played at right-back which is one of the many positions that he can play. Did well against Derby.

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27 Alex Telles

Replaced Williams 46'. Set pieces, he is good but had a chance to score in the opening stages of the first half, but missed. Good left-back to have in the squad though to give Shaw a rest now and again.

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15 Andreas Pereira

Replaced Levitt 46'. He normally turns up in pre-season but in this game, he did not. Not sure what his future has to offer him, but it won't be at United, most likely.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Garner 46'. Was the most experienced player on the pitch in the second half, at least outfield. Did well against Derby and will be pleased with his fitness levels.

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47 Shola Shoretire

Replaced Elanga 46'. Played in a great ball to Pellistri for him to find United's second goal of the game. A real talent in this squad and Solskjaer will have big plans for him this season.

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28 Facundo Pellistri

Replaced Mata 46'. Got United's second goal minutes after coming on, played in by Shoretire and slotted him to aplomb. A great talent to have, even if he will be loaned against to Alaves, or wherever.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Chong 46'. Could have scored United's third, after conceding one, but he hit the crossbar. Will be annoyed about that.

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52 Joe Hugill

Replaced Greenwood 46'. Came on at the start of the second half. Did not seem to fit into the game and was replaced by Hannibal in the 79th minute of the match.

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48 Will Fish

Replaced Mengi 60'. Did well in the second half. Conceded a goal though but fitness is the major issue here. It was a win for United though.

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58 Di’Shon Bernard

Replaced Tuanzebe 60'. Did well for 30 minutes or so. United conceded after the defensive change was made but this will give the pair (Bernard and Fish) more experience for the future.

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46 Hannibal Mejbri

Replaced Hugill 79'. Brought more energy to the team after replacing Hugill. United had more of the ball but could not do anything with it. Early days for him though, and United.

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Goals: Colin Kazim-Richards 70′; Tahith Chong 18′, Facundo Pellistri 59′

Assists: Isaac Hutchinson 70′; Shola Shoretire 59′

Manchester United: Heaton (Grant 46′); Wan-Bissaka (Galbraith 46′), Tuanzebe (Bernard 60′), Mengi (Fish 60′), Williams (Telles 46′); Garner (Matic 46′), Levitt (Pereira 46′); Elanga (Shoretire 46′), Mata (Pellistri 46′), Chong (Lingard 46′); Greenwood (Hugill 46′ (Hannibal 79′)

Substitutes Not Used: Bishop

Bookings: Lee Buchanan 55′, Louie Sibley 68′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Greenwood, Chong, Elanga, Levitt and Garner start against Derby

Manchester United start their pre-season campaign against Derby County at Pride Park on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first pre-season campaign since the summer of 2019 when United faced Perth Glory and Leeds United in Perth, Australia, Inter Milan in Singapore, Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, Kristiansund in Oslo, Norway and AC Milan in Cardiff, Wales. United played just one pre-season match last summer, losing to Aston Villa at Villa Park a week before their season started. This did not help United prepare for the new season, which started poorly for United as they were beaten three times, drawing once and winning twice in three opening six matches. However, the season ended on a better note than it started.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get something started for his team this summer, getting the majority of the team fit and ready to face Leeds United at Old Trafford in the opening Premier League match which will be played on Saturday 14 August 2021 at 12:30. Because of Euro 2020 and the Copa America, which were both delayed from last summer, Solskjaer will be without many of his first team players for this match, including David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani, plus Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo will be representing the Ivory Coast at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

Manchester United:

Heaton;

Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Mengi, Williams;

Garner, Levitt;

Elanga, Mata, Chong;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

Grant, Bishop; Telles, Fish; Lingard, Pereira, Pellistri, Matic, Hannibal, Galbraith, Bernard, Shoretire; Hugill

Derby County:

Roos;

Byrne, Jagielka, Davies, Buchanan;

Bird, Shinnie,

Aluko, Lawrence, Morrison;

Baldock

Substitutes:

Marshall, Allsop, Forsyth, Williams, Kazim-Richards, Sibley, Hutchinson, Ebosele, McDonald, Knight, Thompson, Watson

United and Derby have met many times in the history of both clubs with a total of 108 competitive matches between the two clubs. United have won 47 times, drawing 29 times with Derby taking the victory 32 times. United last met Derby in the Emirates FA Cup back in March 2020 with Solskjaer’s side winning 3-0 with goals scored by Luke Shaw and a brace from Odion Ighalo, who has now left the club. Derby beat United in the prior match, which was in the Carabao Cup, a 2-2 draw with Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini both scoring but losing 8-7 on penalties after Sergio Romero was sent off and Lee Grant making his competitive debut for the club. Phil Jones saw his penalty saved, which was the end of the road for United in the competition that season.

Wayne Rooney is currently the manager of Derby and has been at the club since August 2019, after returning from the MLS side DC United. Rooney was a player coach but was not eligible to play until January 2020. He was made the interim manager of the Championship club following the sacking of Phillip Cocu. On the 15 January 2021, Rooney retired as a player, focusing on managing Derby for the remainder of the season. His side evaded relegation on the final day of the 2020/21 season, keeping the club in the Championship for at least another season. Derby currently have former United player Tom Lawrence at the club and Teden Mengi was on loan there last season, with the club wanting him again. Ravel Morrison is currently training with Derby.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: Heaton, Tuanzebe, Garner, Elanga and Greenwood to start against Derby County?

Manchester United start their pre-season campaign against Derby County at Pride Park on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first pre-season campaign since the summer of 2019 when United faced Perth Glory and Leeds United in Perth, Australia, Inter Milan in Singapore, Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, Kristiansund in Oslo, Norway and AC Milan in Cardiff, Wales. United played just one pre-season match last summer, losing to Aston Villa at Villa Park a week before their season started. This did not help United prepare for the new season, which started poorly for United as they were beaten three times, drawing once and winning twice in three opening six matches. However, the season ended on a better note than it started.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get something started for his team this summer, getting the majority of the team fit and ready to face Leeds United at Old Trafford in the opening Premier League match which will be played on Saturday 14 August 2021 at 12:30. Because of Euro 2020 and the Copa America, which were both delayed from last summer, Solskjaer will be without many of his first team players for this match, including David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani, plus Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo will be representing the Ivory Coast at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Will Fish, Axel Tuanzebe and Alex Telles – Manchester United website

How United have faired against Derby County.

United and Derby have met many times in the history of both clubs with a total of 108 competitive matches between the two clubs. United have won 47 times, drawing 29 times with Derby taking the victory 32 times. United last met Derby in the Emirates FA Cup back in March 2020 with Solskjaer’s side winning 3-0 with goals scored by Luke Shaw and a brace from Odion Ighalo, who has now left the club. Derby beat United in the prior match, which was in the Carabao Cup, a 2-2 draw with Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini both scoring but losing 8-7 on penalties after Sergio Romero was sent off and Lee Grant making his competitive debut for the club. Phil Jones saw his penalty saved, which was the end of the road for United in the competition that season.

Wayne Rooney is currently the manager of Derby and has been at the club since August 2019, after returning from the MLS side DC United. Rooney was a player coach but was not eligible to play until January 2020. He was made the interim manager of the Championship club following the sacking of Phillip Cocu. On the 15 January 2021, Rooney retired as a player, focusing on managing Derby for the remainder of the season. His side evaded relegation on the final day of the 2020/21 season, keeping the club in the Championship for at least another season. Derby currently have former United player Tom Lawrence at the club and Teden Mengi was on loan there last season, with the club wanting him again. Ravel Morrison is currently training with Derby.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Derby County in their pre-season friendly at Pride Park on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton came through Manchester United’s academy and was a United player from 2002 until 2010 but never represented the club competitively. Re-signing for the club this summer as a free agent, Heaton will be able to put on his gloves for the club, perhaps for the first time competitively. There is somewhat a goalkeeping dilemma at the club with David De Gea and Dean Henderson seeking to be the first choice goalkeeper at the club and Lee Grant signing a new contract, it would see that Heaton could have been brought in to add some experience, for instance if De Gea leaves the club. It is expected that Heaton could start against Derby County this weekend, which Henderson overcoming an injury, De Gea on holiday and Grant already playing a lesser role at the club. Heaton played 200 times for Burnley, performing well against United at times.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Teden Mengi, Alex Telles

United will be without the likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw for the first few matches of pre-season because of their involvement in Euro 2020. Against Derby, there will be an experienced defence with possible Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles playing in the fullback positions but with Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi starting in the centre of the back four. Eric Bailly is also out of action because of his involvement in the Olympics for the Ivory Coast. Will Fish and Brandon Williams could also find some involvement in this match, but Phil Jones looks set to miss it, having not been seen training with his teammates this week, which does not look good for his future at the club. Perhaps he is still getting over his knee injury, which kept him out of the entire 2020/21 season with him last featuring for United in January 2020.

Midfield: Andreas Pereira, James Garner

Solskjaer will be missing Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Fred because of their involvement in Euro 2020 and Copa America. Nemanja Matic has been readying himself for the new season and could well start against Derby but I think the due of Andreas Pereira and James Garner have a better chance of starting as both players will need to secure loan spells away from United as Garner looks to gain more experience, preferably in the Premier League and Pereira will be surplus to requirements once again. This could be a good match for Garner as he will be able to show Solskjaer what he’s got in his locker and with United not having another defence midfielder at the club, other than Matic, Garner could carve out a place in the first team. A season of playing in the Premier League, on loan, would give him much more ahead of the 2022/23 season at the club.

Attacking Midfield: Facundo Pellistri, Juan Mata, Anthony Elanga

Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James are out of action because of their involvement in Euro 2020 and Anthony Martial is still overcoming an injury which kept him out for the end of last season. Solskjaer will have more fringe and youth players than he will have experience for this first game of pre-season. Facundo Pellistri could start on the right-wing against Derby with Juan Mata slotting in the middle of the three behind the striker. Anthony Elanga could feature on the left-wing, which would be good to see as he was given minutes at the end of the season with United confirming their second-placed finish in the Premier League with many first team players rested for the UEFA Europa League final. The likes of Jesse Lingard, Hannibal Mejbri, Shola Shoretire, and Tahith Chong could well feature in this match, which would also be good to see.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood is the only experienced forward who could play in this position against Derby. Edinson Cavani is missing because of his involvement in Copa America, Martial is returning from a knee injury and Rashford is out because of his involvement in Euro 2020, which saw England reach the final, only to be beaten by Italy on penalties. Greenwood has been playing a wide role of late but has featured as the main striker on a number of occasions and that is probably the position that he will end up playing at some point in his career. Solskjaer wants it, United want it, the fans want it and the player wants it too. Joe Hugill, who rose to fame in the academy last season, could feature against Derby, which would be good to see as his goalscoring antics were impressive last season, finishing with 16 goals and three assists at both U23 and U18 level last season.

Substitutes: Lee Grant, Dean Henderson; Brandon Williams, Will Fish; Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Hannibal Mejbri, Di’Shon Bernard, Shola Shoretire, Ethan Galbraith; Tahith Chong, Joe Hugill

There are likely to be many substitutions against Derby with Solskjaer seeking to give most of the players that are available to him a run out against the Championship side. Both Lee Grant and Dean Henderson could be available in goal with Brandon Williams and Will Fish in the defensive positions. In midfield, United have the most players available with Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Hannibal Mejbri, Di’Shon Bernard, Shola Shoretire and Ethan Galbraith all available. In the attacking positions, Tahith Chong and Joe Hugill could play a part in the match. Obviously, this squad has been built by the players who have been training this week and there could well be more additions or some players not being involved at all. In the coming weeks, United will start to welcome back the more experienced players so they can get the new season started.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Manchester United to up fitness levels against Derby County

Derby County -v- Manchester United

Pre-Season 2021/22

Pride Park, Derby

Sunday 18 July 2021, KO 13:00 BST

Manchester United start their pre-season campaign against Derby County at Pride Park on Sunday afternoon. It will be the first pre-season campaign since the summer of 2019 when United faced Perth Glory and Leeds United in Perth, Australia, Inter Milan in Singapore, Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, Kristiansund in Oslo, Norway and AC Milan in Cardiff, Wales. United played just one pre-season match last summer, losing to Aston Villa at Villa Park a week before their season started. This did not help United prepare for the new season, which started poorly for United as they were beaten three times, drawing once and winning twice in three opening six matches. However, the season ended on a better note than it started.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be seeking to get something started for his team this summer, getting the majority of the team fit and ready to face Leeds United at Old Trafford in the opening Premier League match which will be played on Saturday 14 August 2021 at 12:30. Because of Euro 2020 and the Copa America, which were both delayed from last summer, Solskjaer will be without many of his first team players for this match, including David De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani, plus Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo will be representing the Ivory Coast at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

Nathan Bishop, Lee Grant, Matej Kovar, Dean Henderson and Tom Heaton – Manchester United website

A summer of changes but a first pre-season match with fringe players and youth is exciting…

This summer, there will be many changes to the United squad with Jadon Sancho waiting to be announced as a United player and moves for both Raphaël Varane and Kieran Trippier hotting up in the background. With speculation linking Paul Pogba to Paris Saint-Germain, United have also been linked to Houssem Aouar this summer, but it is expected that a move for a defensive minded instead as that would be a position that would allow the formation to be changed with United playing a more attacking brand of football next season. That said, there is still a lot of time in the summer transfer window for anything to happen and the fact that Sancho, Varane and Trippier seem likely would be the start of a good summer for United.

During the course of the week, there have been many players training ahead of the first pre-season match of the summer. New goalkeeper signing Tom Heaton is expected to make an appearance for United, but also Lee Grant, Dean Henderson, Nathan Bishop and Matej Kovar have been readying themselves too. In defence, Alex Telles, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe, Will Fish and Teden Mengi have been involved. In midfield, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Facundo Pellistri, Nemanja Matic, James Garner, Di’Shon Bernard, Shola Shoretire, Hannibal Mejbri, Ethan Galbraith and in attack, Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong, Anthony Elanga, Joe Hugill were all pictured, which could make for an exciting mix of players for this first pre-season match.

Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Will Fish, Axel Tuanzebe and Alex Telles – Manchester United website

Previous meetings with Derby County and their Manchester United connections…

United and Derby have met many times in the history of both clubs with a total of 108 competitive matches between the two clubs. United have won 47 times, drawing 29 times with Derby taking the victory 32 times. United last met Derby in the Emirates FA Cup back in March 2020 with Solskjaer’s side winning 3-0 with goals scored by Luke Shaw and a brace from Odion Ighalo, who has now left the club. Derby beat United in the prior match, which was in the Carabao Cup, a 2-2 draw with Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini both scoring but losing 8-7 on penalties after Sergio Romero was sent off and Lee Grant making his competitive debut for the club. Phil Jones saw his penalty saved, which was the end of the road for United in the competition that season.

Wayne Rooney is currently the manager of Derby and has been at the club since August 2019, after returning from the MLS side DC United. Rooney was a player coach but was not eligible to play until January 2020. He was made the interim manager of the Championship club following the sacking of Phillip Cocu. On the 15 January 2021, Rooney retired as a player, focusing on managing Derby for the remainder of the season. His side evaded relegation on the final day of the 2020/21 season, keeping the club in the Championship for at least another season. Derby currently have former United player Tom Lawrence at the club and Teden Mengi was on loan there last season, with the club wanting him again. Ravel Morrison is currently training with Derby.

Joe Hugill, Ethan Galbraith, Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood and Shola Shoretire – Manchester United website

Predicted Starting XI: Juan Mata to captain United, Mason Greenwood to spearhead United’s attack, flanked by Anthony Elanga and Facundo Pellistri?

Solskjaer has few options at this stage of the pre-season campaign, which is an exciting prospect. Of course, this stage of the summer is not about winning, it is about fitness and unlike last season, United will be seeking to make some waves ahead of the Premier League opener against Leeds United at the Theatre of Dreams. With both Euro 2020 and the Copa America seeing many senior players out of action with all missing the first match, but others coming back in dribs and drabs between now and the final two pre-season matches, giving some promising youth players some involvement ahead of prospective loan spells away from the club or getting ready for the U18 and U23 seasons starting.

The squad for this match has been prepared based on the players who have been seen in training earlier in the week. It is quite possibly a fact that more players will have been present, but were not photographed for whatever reason. Solskjaer will have a number of players heading to Derby for Sunday’s clash and hopefully the likes of Hannibal Mejbri, Alvaro Fernandez, Ethan Laird, Zidane Iqbal, Isak Hansen and Joe Hugill could have some involvement. United had 23 players training earlier in the week, so that might end up being the squad, however, in that group of players was five goalkeepers, which might be a bit much so some outfield players will need to be added to the squad so there can be many changes, allowing all players time on the pitch.

Michael Carrick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Manchester United website

Match Prediction: Pre-season is not about winning – it is all about fitness and after last season’s preparation, United will be doing things properly.

Both United and Derby will be looking at this fixture in the same manner – being about fitness than winning. See football supporters expect United to win every match they play, even in pre-season, which seems a bit weird. There will be supporters at Pride Park on Sunday, both home and away and it will be good to see something like that after the past 19 months, which has seen the majority of matches played behind closed doors. It will be good to see club football make it’s return after Euro 2020 and the first pre-season campaign in two years, which should see a majority squad of youth players get some minutes under their belt. Obviously it would be great if United won and many players put their names in lights.

Rooney and Solskjaer will be looking to see the best of their squads, at least the players that they have available for the match on Sunday and the supporters, for both sides, will be looking to make a noise in the stadium and show the players that they are still there to support them. As fitness is the main part of these matches, both managers will be seeking to get at least 60 minutes out of some players to get the prepared for the new season. United will have more first team players available for later matches this summer, with some returning before the clash with Queens Park Rangers. The majority of the squad will be available for the final two matches – against Preston North End (away) and Everton (home).

Derby County 0-3 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Greatest Manchester United Striker

Over his 27-year reign, Sir Alex Ferguson had some magnificent strikers who lit up Old Trafford. They varied as the decades went by and the game adapted, but each played a pivotal role in making Manchester United what it is today. Their skills range from the lethal poacher ready to score at any moment and the more technically gifted player willing to drop deep and create chances for his teammates. 

Firstly, so what makes a good United striker? For me it has to be bravery, confidence and consistency. This striker would be the team’s main source of goals, the player the team looks upon for a moment of magic or for them to take that one chance in the game and win it for them. Therefore, bravery, confidence and consistency are pivotal as if this striker isn’t brave, he won’t have the attitude to dive for every header and go in for every 50/50, but a player with bravery will score you those scrappy goals but these are the ones that make all the difference.

Confidence and consistency are simple terms but are necessary to make a great striker as without confidence the player won’t play at his best and could become a liability and without consistency the team can never fully rely on their striker which will massively hinder their team as the players around him need to know they can trust their striker. Hence why at the moment, Anthony Martial is sparking debate as to whether he’s good enough to play as United’s striker, as over his six years at the club he’s shown high potential and provided some good seasons especially the 2019/20 season where he scored 17 goals in the league and providing seven assists in 32 games, but he’s not managed to consistently equal these performances and his form has a tendency to slump often.

Ferguson had many strikers in his reign and this article will specifically look at five. These include, Andy Cole, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Dwight Yorke. Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo would have made the top five, but I wouldn’t consider them as an out and out strikers under Ferguson.

Firstly, Andy Cole. He was an £8.64 million signing in January of 1995 which at the time was a British transfer fee record so expectations were high. He played 274 games for the Red Devils slotting in 121 goals and providing 44 assists as well. He formed a great partnership with another player on this list; Dwight Yorke. Yorke was a Trinidadian striker who joined United in July 1998 for a huge fee at the time of £17.33 million, thus like Cole expectations were also extremely high. He manged 65 goals and 29 assists in 152 games before leaving United in 2002. The pair won the historic treble and will undoubtedly go down as United legends but who was better? Both were brilliant players and had excellent chemistry but for me Andy Cole was the better player due to his lethal finishing but if it wasn’t for the link up with Yorke, he wouldn’t have been so successful. 

Ruud van Nistelrooy also came into United for a big fee in 2001 when he signed for £25.65 million from PSV Eindhoven. Van Nistelrooy epitomised the term poacher, as he was always in the right position at the right time with deadly finishing to score an abundance of goals. At his time at United he scored 150 goals with 20 assists in 219 games. In his best league season, he managed 25 goals in 34 games with three assists. In his five seasons in the Premier League, he managed to hit over 20 goals in 4 of them. He was a lethal finisher, with one of the highest goals per minute ratios in the Premier League of all time. However, one drawback to his ability was his overall game. As he was a poacher, he wasn’t that creative and his overall game wasn’t as strong as others on the list which means he can’t be ranked as United’s greatest striker under Ferguson.

The next striker is Wayne Rooney, he was a debatable one as arguably he can be seen as more of an allrounder and not a specific striker but he did play as a striker for Ferguson in certain seasons and parts of seasons so therefore I’d include him as a striker in Ferguson’s reign. Rooney signed for United in 2004 for £33.30 million and went onto play 559 games, scoring 223 goals and providing 146 assists. Then as a centre forward he managed 74 goals and 40 assists in 170 games. Statistically, he has an unbelievable record, scoring hundreds of goals and providing hundreds of assists even as a striker; and this defines Wayne Rooney as a player because he wasn’t one dimensional or limited in his game, he had everything, pace, power, finishing, passing, strength.

He could be the man to score the goals United needed but also provided that creative linkup bringing others into the game at the same time. As a striker he was quite unique, in this decade someone similar to Rooney would be Harry Kane who is blessed with brilliant vision and passing as well as great finishing. Furthermore, Rooney wasn’t one to shy away in the big games scoring one of the most iconic goals in Premier League history with a bicycle kick against local rivals Manchester City also managing many goals against the ‘Big Six’ scoring six goals against Liverpool, nine against Chelsea, ten against City and fifteen goals against Arsenal overall in his United and Everton Premier League career.

Rooney had what poachers like Van Nistelrooy didn’t and despite Yorke and Coles ability to partially do what Rooney could do, neither could do it to the level that Rooney could. Rooney’s overall game is what would place him above his fellow strikers at United as he wasn’t ever limited to just one dimension in a game, he could help his team in many ways which is pivotal to leading the team to success. Some of Rooney’s game came after Ferguson’s departure but a huge majority of his best performances and form came from under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Finally, Robin Van Persie although not at the club for long is regarded by many as a United legend for his title winning contributions in the 2012/13 season in which he signed from big rivals Arsenal for £27.63 million. Van Persie was a proven striker who Wenger proclaimed to Ferguson after the signing that he’s a better player than you think.” He was brought in to be the final piece in the puzzle for Ferguson’s men in which unbeknownst to him would be Fergusons last season at the club. In his first and only season under Ferguson, Van Persie scored 30 goals with 26 of those coming in the Premier League and three in the Champions League and one in the FA Cup.

He didn’t manage to win the Champions League in this season which Ferguson would have aimed to achieve, but this is more due to a controversial decision made by the referee Cuneyt Cakir in the Champions League Round of 16 against Real Madrid to send Nani off after United looked the stronger team. However, Van Persie did manage to secure United their famous 20th title with such a strong performance from him throughout the season meaning many have claimed he single handily won United the title in this season. His 15 assists show his ability to link well with Rooney, seen especially against Aston Villa with that iconic volley after a beautiful pass from Rooney. Overall, Van Persie with more years under Ferguson could have been the best but having only played one full season restricted him.

In conclusion, I feel all five off these strikers are brilliant United greats but the best of them all was Wayne Rooney. He was a loyal servant to the club, but in particular was a world class footballer with a unique ability to pick any pass and play it, helping better the fluidity and link up within the United forwards. He scored crucial goals in pivotal times for United winning 16 trophies and was a role model to others as he never gave in and always performed for the badge. Therefore, I feel Rooney despite not being the most clinical or most conventional CF was United’s best striker in Ferguson’s reign due to his completeness as a player having everything to his game which the others couldn’t boast to their names. 

Written by Ethan Bents

Idols: Wayne Rooney Captain, Leader, Legend

On the 31 August 2004, Manchester United signed 18-year-old Wayne Rooney from Everton in a deal worth £27 million. Throughout the month, Everton received an offer of £20 million from Newcastle United after Rooney rejected a new contract worth £50,000 per week. He also handed in a transfer request two leave Goodison Park. United had paid the highest transfer fee at the time for a player under the age of 20. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson knew the type of player Rooney could become after his exploits with Everton. Since emerging as a 16-year-old, scoring 17 goals in 77 appearances before leaving for United.

Rooney had become now of the most sought-after players in Europe following his two seasons at Everton. Also having a starring role for England at Euro 2004, in which he scored four goals, matching new United teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy’s efforts for the Netherlands. Perhaps Ferguson knew what Rooney could achieve at United? If he continued to work hard and develop. The legend would spend 13 seasons at United and win all the major honours at the club, helping United to reach the pinnacle of European football once again under the reign of Ferguson, who did so for the second time in his career.

Rooney made a total of 559 appearances for United, scoring 253 goals and 146 assists. This meant that he offered a goal every 2.21 matches and a goal contribution every 1.40 matches. Rooney had a hand in 399 goals for United, which is a great figure for a player that really played in quite a few roles at the club. He played the main striking position. Also as a second striker, attacking midfielder, a winger. He even played as a defensive midfield at the end of his career. Rooney offered everything he has for much of his United career, keeping United ticking and earning the plaudits. Rooney also played 12 matches for England, scoring 53 goals.

Coming to United as a player with lots of talent.

In his first season at United, Rooney showed what he could become. On his debut for the club, against Fenerbahce in the UEFA Champions League, Rooney scored his first hat-trick for the club as United beat the Turkish club 6-2, scoring 17 goals and six assists in 43 appearances. Rooney averaged 19.46 goals for the club each season and regularly hit around the 20 goal mark each season. During two seasons (2009/10 and 2011/12) he scored 34 goals for the club. In his final season at the club (2016/17) he scored just eight goals for the club. In total, he scored eight hat-tricks for United, scoring four goals in one match, which showed his ability.

His hat-trick against Fenerbahce will be special as it was his first at United, on his debut and playing in the Champions League. He also scored hat-tricks against Bolton Wanderers (twice), and Portsmouth in the Premier League. Two other special ones will be prevalent though; the one against West Ham United on the 2 April 2011 and the one against Arsenal on the 28 August 2011 as United beat the North London club 8-2. Rooney was known for driving the mentality of the club forward, always wanting to win and win trophies. In the summer of 2010, a certain transfer request from Rooney could have chanced everything.

Rooney was being linked to Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. He said it was never an option to sign for City and he would have chose Barcelona over Real Madrid. But the Madrid club were the likely destination. Of course, he never left United, signed a new number contract at the club and continued his career. As Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, he confirmed that Rooney had handed in a transfer request once again. David Moyes, Rooney’s former manager at Everton would need to solve that problem. Rooney was sold to Everton in the summer of 2017 just after Jose Mourinho’s first season at the club.

Chasing the clubs goalscoring record and moving on.

At United, Rooney was chasing the goalscoring record set by the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton. He scored 249 goals for United in 758 appearances. Rooney broke that record by scoring his 250th goal in January 2017, scoring three more goals for the club before leaving United. Rooney also broke Charlton’s record for England too, having scored 49 goals in 106 appearances with Rooney scored 53 goals in 120 appearances. He broke the record in 2015. Rooney was a player that craved success and guided United to many trophies with his teammates. His goals were something that helped United massively along the way plus his desire to win.

Rooney won five Premier League titles at United. He also won one FA Cup, three League Cups, and four FA Community Shields. The UEFA Champions League (playing in three finals), one UEFA Europa League and one FIFA Club World Cup were the cream of the crop. Rooney captained United taking over from Nemanja Vidic in 2014, handing the captaincy over to Michael Carrick in 2017. Since his departure, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young (who have both left) and Harry Maguire have captained the club. Rooney may be a distant memory for United now, a player that has played a part in the clubs history but he will always be remembered.

After United, Rooney went back to boyhood club Everton, staying at the club for one season before heading to the MLS in the United States of America. He played for DC United and scored 25 goals and 14 assists in 52 appearances. Rooney then returned to England signing for Championship club Derby County in 2019. He was eligible to play for the club from the 2019/20 season. He is currently the manager of the club. In the future the name Rooney might be heard against at United again as the club signed 11-year-old Kai Rooney last month, for the clubs academy. He will be sure to keep the family name alive at the club, providing he makes it there.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW