ANOTHER real test for Manchester United as they travel to Derby in the FA Cup on Friday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) previews the match.
Derby v Manchester United | Friday 19:55 | BBC One
The Louis Van Gaal era at Manchester United continues to rumble on but Saturday’s pithy 1-0 defeat to Southampton at Old Trafford surely hastens the Dutchman’s departure.
There’s a case for saying that defeat here tonight could put him out of his (clear) misery. A trip to Derby is by no means a comfortable fixture and Van Gaal must be nervous.
However it’s not been a straight-forward few weeks for Derby either though. They’ve gone from top of the Championship on Boxing Day to down to fifth place now after a run of picking up just two points out of 15.
County’s be all and end all is to return to the Premier League after some painful experiences in the last couple of seasons that desire will be stronger than ever.
One key thing to remember when these kind of ties occur is that the Championship side doesn’t really give a shit about the FA Cup either. Yes, initially only the big clubs would play under-strength sides in this competition but now that has spread to the Championship and even beyond.
Take a look at this decade for example. Only one side who got promoted to the Premier League in the last six years went past the FA Cup Fourth Round.
If you were writing a manual on ‘How To Get Promoted To The Premier League’ then getting knocked out early in the FA Cup is one of the key points you have to adhere to.
So, I’m not expecting Derby to be at full strength on the pitch on Friday or indeed to be fully attuned psychologically with promotion the number one target.
How do you make a case for Manchester United? They may be in a bad place but they’ve only lost one of their last six matches. Their defence remains pretty resolute with three clean sheets in their last six and this could prove a distraction from the rigours of the league.
I think the Premier League side will have enough here. Derby are in poorer form than Manchester United and I doubt the Championship side will straining every sinew to win here. The class should out.
Derby v Manchester United – Manchester United to win (Evens Paddy Power)
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