Derby County manager Phillip Cocu is aiming to utilise captain Wayne Rooney’s knowledge of Manchester United when the two teams meet in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday.
Rooney spent a hugely successful 13 years at Old Trafford, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer before returning to Everton in 2017.
The former England skipper left Goodison Park to join MLS franchise DC United the following year, spending two seasons in the United States prior to linking up with Derby as a player-coach in January.
While it is three years since Rooney was at United, Cocu says Rooney’s long stay at United can only help the Rams as they target an upset at Pride Park.
“Of course, Wayne is very important, and maybe even more so in this game because he knows Manchester United like no-one else,” he told reporters.
“He knows the players, the level of performance, what is needed in those big games. So yes, it will be extremely important for us on Thursday.
Cocu: “Wayne [Rooney] knows Manchester United like no other. He knows the players, the level of performance that’s needed in big games, and he will be extremely important for us on Thursday.” pic.twitter.com/toK2OpJUYK
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) March 3, 2020
“I think it could be important for the rest of the team. He’s used to the big games, he’s used to the attention.
“So maybe it will only have a positive influence on his performance, I think. But if you’re not used to playing these kind of games, it’s better that the attention goes to more senior players and you just focus on your task and your job in the team.”
Rooney will also have an input in Derby’s pre-match preparations, as he has done ever since joining the club.
“We speak with Wayne before every game,” Cocu added. “He joins in with the technical staff in preparation for games, to analyse the opponent, to select the clips we want to study.
“I always ask his opinion not only for this game because he obviously knows the club very well, but I think this is the way we work.
“He is a player that’s the most important, and he wants to play, but he’s also very involved in the team tactics and how we approach the game. So yes, we’ll use that for this game, and we won’t change that.”
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