Mourinho to use the FA Cup as a springboard
The festive period was a little underwhelming – before that win at Everton.
United played some of their best football in weeks in one second-half spell at Goodison and they will take a lot of confidence from that ahead of tonight’s game.
Hopefully, youngsters like Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay will get a run out and be encouraged to enjoy the occasion under the lights as United look to win one of the few realistic honours still available to them.
Speaking to Ander Herrera in the mixed zone after the win at Everton, he stressed that being a United player was all about winning silverware and the FA Cup represents the club’s best chance of doing just that this season.
Cup competitions have acted as a springboard for United in the past – winning the FA Cup in 2016 ended a trophy drought while last season’s Carabao Cup win paved the way for further Europa League glory.
So Jose Mourinho will be keen to go the distance having, remarkably, only won the trophy on one previous occasion.
That would not make seeing City canter to the title any easier for United fans, but it would soften the blow a little.
Romelu Lukaku is back in the Manchester United squad for their FA Cup third round tie against Derby County tonight.
Lukaku suffered a head injury in the eighth minute of the goalless draw with Southampton six days ago and required oxygen on the pitch before he was carried off on a stretcher. Jose Mourinhorefused to consider the Belgian for selection at Everton on New Year’s Day, despite Lukaku’s insistence he was fit enough to feature.
But Lukaku is in contention for a recall after he arrived with the rest of the United squad at their pre-match base at The Lowry Hotel.
Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw were not spotted by M.E.N. photographers but Shaw and Fellaini tend to link up with teammates separately and it is probable Mourinho has rested first-teamers Jones and Matic.
The United manager confirmed on Thursday David de Gea would earn a breather, with Sergio Romero expected to start, while Ashley Young serves the second of his three-match suspension.