Wayne Rooney has described the prospect of facing Manchester United with current side Derby County in pre-season as ‘mouthwatering’.
The Reds legend is, of course, the manager of the Championship outfit and, on Tuesday, it was revealed that County would kick off our 2021/22 preparations with a trip to Pride Park on 18 July.
Games with QPR, Brentford and Everton will follow, but a reunion with our all-time leading goalscorer for the first time since he announced his retirement as a player is clearly a date to look forward to.
The Rams secured their position in the second tier for the upcoming season with a dramatic 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday last month and they should pose a good test for United’s players as we look to build fitness for the new campaign.
“I’m really pleased with our pre-season plans ahead of the new season,” Rooney said.
“We’ll have some time at Moor Farm Training Ground when the players initially return in July and we will also take the players away for a week to provide a change of scenery, which will be an important part of our preparations.
“The game against Manchester United, a club I have a long and proud affiliation and history with, at Pride Park Stadium is a mouthwatering prospect and an excellent opportunity for us to test ourselves against one of the best teams in both England and Europe.
“In addition, we have some other challenging friendly matches and they will provide a variety of important tests for us in the lead-up to the season getting started.”
It will be a maiden fixture in the dugout for Rooney against his former club, but he has gone head-to-head with United on three occasions since departing in the summer of 2017.
The Reds beat Everton home and away in the 2017/18 season, while we secured a 3-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory over County in March 2020, when Wayne was still playing.
With several Reds first-teamers no doubt still on holiday after the European Championship, some youngsters could be involved, including centre-back Teden Mengi, who played nine games on loan with the Rams last term.