Manchester United is set to clash with West Ham at Upton Park in the FA Cup quarter-final replay tonight. The Red Devils are eager to secure a trophy, marking their final opportunity to claim silverware this season.
United’s captain, Wayne Rooney, recovering from a month-long knee injury, is keen to play tonight. Despite his 60-minute appearance for the club’s under-21s on Monday, manager Louis Van Gaal faces a dilemma.
With a potential Champions League spot and six Premier League games ahead, risking Rooney against West Ham may be too premature. His impact could be crucial for United’s UCL qualification, making it a decision for the Dutchman to carefully weigh.
West Ham’s manager, Slaven Bilic, expresses concern that Rooney if he plays, could shatter their FA Cup dreams. Bilic would prefer Rooney on the bench, acknowledging the player’s threat as a potential match-winner.
Bilic said: “When teams are on a good run, they don’t change, but because they lost 3-0 against Spurs we really don’t know is going to play.
“Will it be Rooney from the start? Marouane Fellaini?
“We don’t know so it makes it harder for us. We won’t change the team because of them.
“I’m a massive Rooney fan since he stepped onto the pitch in an Everton shirt. I can’t talk about Jimmy Greaves or Bobby Charlton or Bobby Moore.
“But in my era, Rooney is the best English player. I would rather he didn’t play – 70 percent, 100 percent fit, I would rather he watched the game.”
Bilic prioritizes the pursuit of a trophy over a fourth-place finish. While a Champions League spot is within reach for West Ham, Bilic believes his team is the favorite for the FA Cup and should clinch the title.
With an impressive 14-game unbeaten record at home, the in-form West Ham is poised to unleash Andy Carroll, Saturday night’s hat-trick hero, hoping for a repeat performance against Manchester United as they did against Arsenal earlier this week.