Today marks 25 years since Major League Baseball stars called off their strike, which had resulted in the previous year's World Series being scrapped.

It is also 38 years to the day since the New York Mets were left stunned by the death of one of the biggest names in baseball.

History was made on this day in England at Aintree in 1977, while India's cricketers and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney were both celebrating nine years ago.

Let's take a look back at April 2 in sporting history.

1972 - Baseball in shock as Mets manager Hodges dies

Gil Hodges had been a superstar with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers, and rounded off his playing career with the just-founded New York Mets. An eight-time All-Star, as a coach he added to the two World Series with the Dodgers, Hodges famously reviving the Mets and leading them to a shock 1969 title triumph over the Baltimore Orioles. But Hodges died on April 2, 1972, at the age of just 47, when he suffered a heart attack following a round of golf in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was his second heart attack: a first came in Atlanta in September 1968, early in his career as manager of the Mets.

1977 - Red Rum wins third Grand National

Tommy Stack rode Red Rum to Aintree glory, as the Ireland-bred steeplechaser followed up 1973 and 1974 triumphs at the Liverpool course with an unprecedented third Grand National victory. The feat has never been matched, with Red Rum triumphing against the odds after second-placed finishes in 1975 and 1976. At the age of 12, Red Rum's third success went down as one of racing's most famous wins.

1995 - Baseball stars go back to work

From August 12 1994 until April 2 1995, there was no top-tier baseball in the United States, with MLB stars going on strike in a labour dispute that stemmed from salary-cap proposals that got players riled. The 1994-95 season was abandoned in September, and the strike lasted for 232 days until judge Sonia Sotomayor's injunction against team owners persuaded the players to go back to work.

2011 - India triumph, Rooney treble

India landed Cricket World Cup glory in front of their home fans in Mumbai when the hosts landed a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final. Mahela Jayawardene made a century in Sri Lanka's 274-6 before India reached their target with 10 balls to spare, helped by 97 from Gautam Gambhir and 91 not out from MS Dhoni.

In London, on the same day, Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick as Manchester United came from 2-0 behind to defeat West Ham 4-2 at Upton Park in the Premier League, an important result as Alex Ferguson's team went on to win the title weeks later.

It is exactly 35 years since Wrestlemania I took place and never has the mantra 'the show must go on' been more apt than in the world of WWE.

While the globe has been ground to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic, Vince McMahon's global sports entertainment behemoth has continued with its weekly television shows Raw and Smackdown filmed in the absence of live audiences at the company's performance center.

Indeed, WWE's flagship event Wrestlemania is going ahead in the same fashion despite the breakout of COVID-19, which curtailed hosting the show at the original location of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Fan favourites including John Cena, Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Charlotte Flair, Edge, Randy Orton and Bill Goldberg are scheduled to appear on a bumper card shown over Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

But there will also be the presence of former NFL star Rob Gronkowski, who is slated to serve as host of Wrestlemania 36.

The ex-New England Patriots tight end – who helped his buddy Mojo Rawley win the 'Andre the Giant Battle Royal' during the Wrestlemania 33 pre-show – is not the first athlete to show up in WWE. Here we take a look at some others.

WAYNE ROONEY

England and Manchester United's record goalscorer had a run-in with Wade Barrett during a November 2015 edition of Monday Night Raw.

Preston fan Barrett, incensed by what he felt was a dive by Rooney in an FA Cup tie between his team and United nine months prior, said the now Derby County midfielder embarrasses his son "every time you step on a football pitch". Rooney retaliated with a slap.

RONDA ROUSEY

"Ronda's gonna kill ya..." was the chant emanating around Levi's Stadium as the fearsome Ronda Rousey stepped between the ropes at Wrestlemania 31.

Accompanied by WWE great Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, now a worldwide movie star, UFC icon Rousey was involved in a spat with the legendary Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon.

Three years later, Rousey partnered Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle to defeat 'The Game' and 'The Billion Dollar Princess'. In January 2018, she became an in-ring regular and won Raw's women's title, which she dropped to Lynch a year ago.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

Better known for slam dunks, former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal got in a choke slam at Wrestlemania 32.

The four-time NBA champion had a stare down with the Big Show, before the two combined to slam the 'Big Red Machine' Kane.

RICKY HATTON

Ricky Hatton earned hordes of fans throughout a brilliant boxing career.

In November 2009, 'The Hitman' stepped into a different kind of ring to host an episode of Raw from Sheffield Arena.

Hatton even donned the gloves to land a knockout punch on Chavo Guerrero Jr., with whom he had feuded on the evening.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has beaten them all in the boxing ring, as his 50-0 record proves.

But it was a true case of David vs Goliath when Mayweather, approximately 5'7" and 150lbs, came up against the 7'2", 500lb giant The Big Show at Wrestlemania 24.

Despite the notable size advantage, Big Show was distracted by a member of Mayweather's entourage hitting him with a chair and 'Money' delivered a telling blow, albeit while wearing brass knuckles, to knock out his huge opponent.

PETE ROSE

Pete Rose is a legend of the baseball world, holding MLB's all-time hits record and winning the World Series on three occasions.

Rose was part of the 1970s Cincinnati Reds team that earned the nickname 'The Big Red Machine'.

But his run in with WWE's own 'Big Red Machine' Kane during the late 1990s and 2000 have become the thing of wrestling folklore.

On one such occasion at Wrestlemania 15, Rose was disguised as a chicken and earned a beatdown from Kane, including his devastating tombstone finishing manoeuvre.

MIKE TYSON

'Iron' Mike Tyson is no stranger to a WWE ring.

'The Baddest Man on the Planet' had an infamous showdown with 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, one of the all-time greats in WWE, on an episode of Raw and had seemingly sided with one of the company's most famous stables D-Generation X before one of its members Shawn Michaels faced Austin at Wrestlemania 14.

However, during the event Tyson showed his true allegiance, counting the pin for Austin and clocking Michaels. Some 12 years later, Tyson buried the hatchet with his DX foes, unveiling a shirt with their logo on and knocking out Chris Jericho during a Raw segment.

MUHAMMAD ALI

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee - did you know this boxing legend starred in WWE?

Okay, sure, back then it was known as WWF when Ali was one of the guest referees at the first Wrestlemania at New York's Madison Square Garden for the main event between 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan and A-Team star Mr. T versus 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff and 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper.

BROCK LESNAR

Few men strike fear in their opponents quite like Brock Lesnar, who is as well known for his two stints in WWE as he is for being a former UFC heavyweight champion.

Lesnar is a multi-time champion in the organisation and will defend his WWE title against Drew McIntyre this weekend.

TYSON FURY

'The Gypsy King' recently crowned his own personal road to recovery by knocking out Deontay Wilder to become the WBC heavyweight champion.

The big-talking Briton warmed up for that bout by enjoying a short run in WWE, feuding with 'The Monster Among Men' Braun Strowman, which resulted in Fury in earning a count-out win over his huge opponent at WWE's Crown Jewel pay-per-view last October.

Wayne Rooney said he believes the coronavirus pandemic might mean the loss of the 2020-21 season in English football but insisted the Football Association is right to prioritise completing the current season whenever that becomes possible.

The former England captain commended the FA's decision to extend the length of the current season indefinitely, describing it as "the fair thing" for promotion, relegation and title races to be settled.

Rooney, who plays for Derby County in the Championship, indicated he is opposed to matches being played behind closed doors given the strain emergency services are already under across the UK.

"It wouldn't surprise me if finishing the season takes until the end of 2020," Rooney said in The Times.

"Football, like every other industry, is in unknown territory and, just like every other industry, has to listen to the advice and take all necessary precautions. For me, that rules out finishing the season behind closed doors.

"When you play behind closed doors it still means bringing together a fairly large group of people. You need ambulances, doctors, paramedics. They're mandatory. Police may be needed too. Why bring them all to a football match when in this crisis they will be needed elsewhere for things that are far more important?

"I wouldn't be comfortable playing a game knowing there were people dying or very sick because of coronavirus and we're taking those workers away from the front line."

Despite enjoying two spells at Everton and spending 13 years at Manchester United, Rooney hailed his former clubs' rivals Liverpool as deserving winners of the Premier League and tipped them to finish the job when the season resumes.

Derby are 12th in the Championship but only five points outside the play-off positions, and Rooney underlined the importance of avoiding the legal ramifications that abandonment of the current season would trigger.

"The FA helped to clarify that the league season will finish and that is fair," said the 34-year-old striker.

"Liverpool will win the Premier League. [They] have been fantastic. They have put so much work in. They deserve this title. Can you imagine waiting 30 years and then having it taken away like this? The right decision has been made.

"It's also right in terms of promotion and relegation and places. These issues are so big for the clubs involved that I imagine there would be a lot of legal fights if the season was just abandoned. The fair thing is to finish 2019-20 — even if we have to lose next season in the process."

The coronavirus pandemic is still raising questions across sport, even with the global calendar decimated by cancelled and postponed events.

Coronavirus has, according to official figures, caused around 6,500 deaths from approximately 170,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

As the pandemic continues, there are going to be some big decisions made in the world of sport over the coming week, with UEFA's 55 members set to come together – via video conference – on Tuesday.

The fate of this season's Champions League and Europa League will be up for debate, while Euro 2020 is also to be discussed.

Here is a look at the latest developments:

 

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting with UEFA, Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina confirmed he will call for Euro 2020 to be postponed, in the hope that might allow the Serie A season to be finished in June.

This proposal will likely be backed by LaLiga boss Javier Tebas, who is convinced the top-flight season in Spain will be completed. Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc, meanwhile, has confirmed he has coronavirus.

It is not yet clear what will happen in the Premier League, with the teams set to reconvene for another meeting on Thursday and, after coming under criticism for stating that the season should be considered "null and void", West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady defended her comments.

"The Premier League and EFL are doing all we can to ensure the season is finished. Including suspending games, isolating players, and if required playing games behind closed doors and into the summer months," she wrote on Twitter.

"My point was safety of fans, players, staff come first and if the remaining games just cannot be played the only fair and reasonable thing is to declare [the] season null and void."

In a newspaper column, Wayne Rooney backed the decision to postpone fixtures in England, but criticised the Premier League and EFL for taking so long to make the call.

More players have confirmed they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay became the first LaLiga player to be named as having the illness, with the club adding four more members of the first-team playing and coaching staff had also tested positive.

Valencia's former Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala confirmed later on Sunday that he was one of those with the virus.

In Serie A, Sampdoria's Omar Colley posted a video to his official Instagram account in which he refuted his club's claim that he too had received a positive test result.

Meanwhile, Manchester United's Paul Pogba joined the raft of sports stars pledging to support people during the crisis, as he launched a fundraiser to mark his 27th birthday.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain announced they had extended the suspension of all club operations until March 18.

In the United States, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert – the first NBA player to be diagnosed with coronavirus – provided a positive update on his recovery, while also stating: "I wish I would have took this thing more seriously and I hope everyone else will do so because we can do it together."

Not all sport has been postponed just yet, with rugby league in both Britain and Australia continuing for now.

In Super League, Castleford Tigers ran out winners over defending champions St Helens, though in the National Rugby League (NRL), Melbourne Storm's Cameron Smith called for the competition to be suspended.

Round two is set to go ahead next week, albeit behind closed doors, while New Zealand Warriors have elected to remain in Australia rather than return to Auckland, where they would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Wayne Rooney believes footballers in England were being treated "like guinea pigs" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite initially planning to go ahead with fixtures across the weekend, the Premier League and EFL announced on Friday that matches had been postponed until at least April 3.

The decision brought England's competitions in line with the rest of the major European leagues, with Ligue 1 having been suspended indefinitely while LaLiga and Serie A are off until April at the earliest – the Bundesliga has also been postponed.

Derby County forward Rooney - who is Manchester United and England's record scorer - believes the right decision was taken, though he was left frustrated by how long the authorities took to make the call.

"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made," Rooney wrote in a column in The Times.

"Until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs.

"The rest of sport - tennis, Formula One, rugby, golf, football in other countries - was closing down and we were being told to carry on.

"At Derby County, we sat at training on Thursday waiting for [prime minister] Boris Johnson to speak. People were anxious.

"Thankfully football made the right call in the end. We had to put the season on hold. Some people won't be happy but I just think, in this case, football has to come second. It's a sport. It's just a sport."

It remains unclear how the season will continue when the pandemic is over.

On Tuesday, the 55 member nations of UEFA will convene to discuss plans for the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020, while the Premier League has called another emergency meeting on Thursday.

Rooney, though, says players will be happy to go with whatever decision is made, as long as it is safe to play again.

"If people's lives are at risk, that has to come first, regardless of whether you're going to win the league title, whether you're trying to get into Europe or whether you're going to get relegated or promoted," he added.

"We're happy to play until September if the season extends to then, if that's how it has to be. That's our job. As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play."

On Thursday, Arsenal confirmed head coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for COVID-19, as has Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Player-coach Wayne Rooney hopes his teenage Derby County team-mates will benefit from the experience of taking on Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round.

Derby were soundly beaten 3-0 by United at Pride Park on Thursday, with Luke Shaw opening the scoring before Odion Ighalo's brace secured a quarter-final trip to Norwich City.

Home captain Rooney was facing his former club and came closer than any colleague to getting the Rams on the scoresheet, seeing a stoppage-time free-kick touched over by Sergio Romero.

However, the former United captain was joined by a trio of young prospects in midfield – Max Bird, 19, Louie Sibley, 18, and Jason Knight, 19 – who impressed in spells.

Sibley was central to much of the action as he enjoyed a second-half tussle with Scott McTominay that saw each player inflict some rugged challenges.

And Rooney was encouraged by what he saw despite the disappointment of defeat.

"Obviously Manchester United are a good team and we wanted to try to win," United's record goalscorer told BT Sport.

"I think the draw was quite favourable for ourselves or Manchester United, whoever got through, and they were the better team on the night.

"But I have to say for our younger players, what an experience for them, and they didn't disappoint. They had some great moments today, and this game, although we lost, will do them the world of good."

Asked to assess the gap between the teams, he added: "That's the level, the difference in them handling the ball. There was always going to be that difference.

"We had to take our moments, which we had, but unfortunately we didn't. We didn't let anyone down tonight. We gave everything and, unfortunately, just came up short."

Rooney suggests he is also learning in the Championship as he takes on new duties under manager Phillip Cocu.

"Of course you can still learn," he said. "It's a different league to what I'm used to, different ambitions.

"Obviously, at Manchester United, you're always thriving to win trophies. At Derby, we're thriving to try to get promotion. It is different. And my role as a coach, trying to balance them, is different.

"It's something I'm really enjoying. I'm enjoying playing football first of all – I'm feeling good, I want to continue doing that – but also that transition period of going from player to coach.

"The manager's been fantastic with me and I want to keep learning and keep trying to improve myself."

Wayne Rooney's hopes of a dream reunion lasted little more than half an hour on Thursday as Manchester United visited their record goalscorer's new employers.

Rooney was centre stage in an otherwise youthful Derby County team for the FA Cup fifth-round tie, dictating play from deep in midfield, a role that pitted him directly against Bruno Fernandes, United's latest superstar.

Former England captain Rooney, after crashing into Scott McTominay by the corner flag early on, provided the platform that allowed his younger colleagues to instead turn in the sort of energetic displays he was once renowned for in United red.

Max Bird, 19, Louie Sibley, 18, and Jason Knight, 19, hassled and harried Fernandes, who struggled to find the rhythm that has made him an instant hit at Old Trafford.

While Rooney kept passes ticking over as Derby held their own, even testing Sergio Romero with a low free-kick, Fernandes toiled.

The Portugal international ceded possession 14 times in the first 30 minutes and required treatment midway through the half after an awkward fall.

But a fortuitous opener took the game away from Rooney. Three Derby blocks in quick succession - the last from Fernandes - kept United at bay on the edge of the area, before Luke Shaw hammered a shot into the ground and the ball looped up after hitting Jesse Lingard's back on its way into the net.

Shaw, with an England place at Euro 2020 suddenly in his sights, then marched forward and slipped a pass into Odion Ighalo, who adjusted his feet to net United's second four minutes before half-time.

Rooney, an increasingly peripheral figure in his final months at United in 2018, was pushed into the background again, only to return to the fore to receive a yellow card for a foul on Fred.

The 34-year-old is still waiting for a first goal against United in seven attempts as an opposition player but has been booked in four of his five starts in such clashes.

There was more aggression following half-time, but Rooney kept his emotions in check to avoid an unseemly red card, and the Derby captain was at the genesis of bright moves that saw Martyn Waghorn and Jack Marriott go close.

Neither Rooney nor Derby could disrupt a serene night for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, though, and so the United fans launched into a lengthy serenade shortly before the hour-mark.

"He goes by the name of Wayne Rooney..."

The travelling supporters paused to acknowledge Fernandes, when an uncharacteristically sloppy outing concluded with his substitution, and then Ighalo after a ruthless third, but tributes to their 253-goal great were eventually reprised.

Rooney had vowed to celebrate if he scored against his former club, yet that only belatedly represented a serious threat as Sergio Romero touched over a stoppage-time free-kick.

There will surely be few further opportunities to soak up the United acclaim on the pitch, but the warm reception for a club legend merely meant Rooney had failed this time to end an unbeaten Red Devils run that stretches to nine matches.

Eliminated from the FA Cup, the Old Trafford favourite can at least now revert to his role as a supporter, no doubt desperate to see Solskjaer maintain a surge towards Wembley, claiming again the trophy Rooney lifted as captain in 2016.

Odion Ighalo scored twice as Manchester United eased into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Derby County at Pride Park.

The Red Devils' January loan signing took his tally to three goals in two starts for the club after Luke Shaw had put the visitors in front on Thursday.

United's record goalscorer and former captain Wayne Rooney started against his old club but, aside from some impressing passing from deep, he could not help Derby spring a shock against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

There was some early threat to the United goal from Phillip Cocu's men, as Louie Sibley shot narrowly wide and Rooney saw a free-kick well saved by Sergio Romero.

United began to assume control, though, with Juan Mata and Ighalo denied by Kelle Roos, before Shaw broke the deadlock in fortuitous fashion 33 minutes in.

After Lingard and Bruno Fernandes saw shots blocked, Shaw fired a half-volley into the turf and, perhaps via a slight touch off Jesse Lingard, the ball looped over the stranded Roos and in.

Ighalo got the second four minutes before half-time, holding off the attention of Craig Forsyth and Max Lowe and poking the ball into the bottom-left corner.

Derby started the second half brightly and twice came close to a lifeline, with Romero saving Max Bird's deflected shot and Martyn Waghorn heading a fine Jayden Bogle cross inches wide.

Roos had to react well to deny Shaw and Mata, though, before Solskjaer took the chance to hand the excellent Fernandes a rest ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby.

The result was made safe with 20 minutes of normal time left, as Ighalo exchanged passes with Mata and, after seeing his first effort blocked by Bogle, rifled the rebound high into the net.

Rooney almost got on a scoresheet in front of the travelling fans, who chanted his name at several points in the match, but Romero made a flying save to tip his free-kick over the bar.

What does it mean? United building momentum for decisive few weeks

United are into the quarter-finals for the sixth season in a row, but that trip to Norwich City will be far from their minds as they look to continue their good recent form into a challenging run of games.

They face Manchester City on Sunday before a Europa League last-16 visit to LASK next Thursday, after which Tottenham and Jose Mourinho travel to Old Trafford before the second leg of their European tie.

With six wins and no defeats from their past nine matches in all competitions, Solskjaer will be hoping their momentum does not now fizzle out.

On Shaw footing

Shaw's form down the United left has been a real plus point of recent weeks, and it continued at Pride Park as he again showed his worth to Solskjaer. His miscued effort made his goal fortuitous, but his pass for Ighalo's second was excellent, and he nearly scored again after a promising run.

Sibley gets lucky

Sibley gave a good account of himself, but the 18-year-old may well have seen red for a kick at Scott McTominay's face had VAR been in use. The United midfielder was certainly unimpressed.

What's next?

United head to Norwich for the quarter-final on the weekend of March 21, but they have the more pressing concern of the Manchester derby on Sunday in the Premier League. Derby resume Championship duties against Blackburn Rovers on the same day.

Harry Maguire has emerged as a concern for Manchester United ahead of Sunday's derby with Manchester City due to an ankle injury.

The England international was absent for United's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Derby County on Thursday having rolled his ankle in training.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed he had intended to play United's captain against the Rams on his 27th birthday.

However, Maguire's injury has left United boss Solskjaer unsure over whether he can pick the centre-back for Sunday's clash with Pep Guardiola's City at Old Trafford.

"I had a word with him before training yesterday, that I am not going to rest him [against Derby]," Solskjaer told MUTV.

"But then he rolled his ankle in training so he had to stay at home. Hopefully he will be okay for the weekend, but I am not sure."

City have their own injury concern over a key man after Kevin De Bruyne missed their FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday with a back complaint.

Solskjaer made six changes from the side which drew 1-1 at Everton for the game against Derby, with Juan Mata captaining a team that featured Odion Ighalo.

United's all-time record scorer Wayne Rooney was named in Championship side Derby's starting XI.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes all-time leading goalscorer and former captain Wayne Rooney could manage the Red Devils in the future.

Rooney will reunite with United when Derby County welcome Solskjaer's side to Pride Park in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Thursday.

A five-time Premier League champion and Champions League winner before leaving United in 2017, Rooney joined Championship outfit Derby as a player-coach from MLS franchise DC United in January.

"Yeah," Solskjaer replied when asked whether Rooney, 34, could be manager. "It depends on how much you put into the job and how much you want it

"It takes over your life but it's the second best after playing. I am sure there are many ex-players and managers who want my job."

Rooney tops United's scoring charts with 253 goals in 559 appearances for the Premier League giants.

Since moving to Derby, ex-England captain and the country's all-time leading scorer Rooney has netted four goals across all competitions.

Rooney has scored three goals and supplied two assists in the Championship for 13th-placed Derby.

Solskjaer's United, meanwhile, are fifth in the Premier League and three points behind Chelsea – who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot.

United – 37 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool – host rivals Manchester City in Sunday's derby at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United need "two or three years" to return to the top of English football as the former Red Devils captain highlighted the models of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Rooney enjoyed great success at Old Trafford, where he became the club's all-time leading goalscorer while winning five Premier League titles and the Champions League among other silverware.

The 34-year-old, who left the club in 2017 following 13 years in Manchester, was also part of the last United team to win the Premier League in 2012-13.

Since then, United have struggled with only two runners-up finishes in the Premier League, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's fifth-placed side are 37 points adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool this term.

Ahead of his United reunion as a player-coach with Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round on Thursday, Rooney called for patience.

"It is going to take time. It is going to take another two or three years, I believe. They need to bring some players, they need to get rid of some players," Rooney said, quoted in several British newspapers.

"It's not going to happen [as a quick fix]. They've tried that with [Louis] van Gaal, with [Jose] Mourinho.

"If you look at Liverpool and what they've done, and Man City, you're not going to buy a team to go and challenge with them. You see with Liverpool - they've built that team.

"[Pep] Guardiola has gradually brought more players in and his way of playing.

"So United have to be a bit patient and try and build a team that will be able to challenge those two. The Manchester United fans need to be a bit patient with what is going on."

United are three points adrift of Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot after 28 rounds, ahead of Sunday's derby against Manchester City at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney is relishing the chance to face his old club Manchester United in the FA Cup and admitted there was cheering on Derby County's bus when the draw was made.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will come up against the club's all-time leading scorer in Rooney in Thursday's fifth-round tie at Pride Park.

Rooney returned to England in January on a player-coach deal and he netted in the Rams' 4-2 win over Northampton Town last month, a victory that set up a reunion with United.

The 34-year-old, also England's all-time top scorer, spent 13 years at Old Trafford and scored 253 goals in 559 games.

"I can't wait," Rooney told United's official website ahead of the FA Cup clash.

"Obviously, the draw, the one team I wanted was Man United. We were on the coach, actually, going to the hotel the night before a game when the draw was taking place and there was a cheer when Manchester United came out.

"It is a great draw for us, having United come to our ground and for the fans it is a great game to go to.

"For us as a team it is a great challenge for us to come up against Manchester United, to see if we can beat them. It is a challenge, but it is something we are all looking forward to."

Rooney faced United twice as an Everton player in 2017-18, though he ended up on the losing side in both games as his boyhood club were beaten 4-0 and 2-0.

He said he would celebrate if he netted on Thursday, though he promised not to react with the same level of gusto as he did when returning to Everton during the early years of his United career.

"No, it won't be like that, of course," he said of a repeat of those badge-kissing celebrations.

"I think everyone will understand. I want Derby to win in this game and after the game I'll go back to being a Manchester United fan and wanting them to win in the games after our one."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer quipped that any goals "old dog" Wayne Rooney scores for Derby County against Manchester United on Thursday will be chalked off his record tally.

Rooney is set to captain Derby against his former club in an FA Cup fifth-round tie at Pride Park.

The former England captain scored a record 253 goals in 559 games for United before returning to Everton in 2017 and joined the Rams as a player-coach in January after a spell in MLS with DC United.

Solskjaer knows his side must be wary of his former team-mate Rooney, who is his son Noah's favourite player, and joked the 34-year-old should have a good reason to avoid finding the back of the net.

The United manager said: "He gave absolutely everything for this club and we all appreciate what he's done, but any goal he scores against us will be chalked off his goal tally, so he doesn't want to score too many.

"Wayne will show what he can do, he wants to prove there is 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, because you can see his Scholesy-like passing range."

Solskjaer says a combination of Rooney's ability and character can ensure he is a successful coach and manager.

"I think he just wants to stay in the game, as many of us do, and he's a great person, he makes everyone feel good – whether you are 80 or 10," he added.

"He's even my Noah's favourite player, not just because what he did as a player, but the kind of human being he was in and around the place.

"I'm sure when he becomes a manager he'll effect his players. When he's coaching, he's so enthusiastic about the game and he knows the game."

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.

"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."

Wayne Rooney marked his 500th game in English league football with a goal but it was not enough for Derby County as they drew 1-1 with Fulham.

Rooney made it 10 goals from his last 13 appearances against Fulham in all competitions when he chipped home from the penalty spot 10 minutes into the second half in Friday's Championship encounter.

However, Fulham fought back to restore parity – Aleksandar Mitrovic sending a brilliant finish into the bottom-left corner in the 71st minute.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Ivan Cavaleiro went close to completing the turnaround for Fulham, though the visitors had Marek Rodak to thank when he pulled off a string of stunning saves late on.

Ultimately, though, neither side could snatch a winner and the draw leaves Derby in 12th, while Fulham missed the chance to move level on points with second-placed Leeds United.

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