All good things come to an end and Wayne Rooney has finally hung up his football boots. The sporting legend made the announcement last Friday after 569 senior appearances and 237 goals. During this time Rooney became a record goal-scorer with both Manchester United and the England national football team. All of which has meant that there’s no shortage of speculation about where this footballing legend could head next.
Like many star England players of his generation, Rooney has set his sights on becoming a manager. Team-mates like Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker have taken managerial roles at Rangers and Fulham respectively. But Rooney appears to be following the path of Frank Lampard by becoming the new manager of Derby County.
Lampard made a big success of his reign at Pride Park Stadium by guiding Derby to a Championship play-off final. However the Rams are giving Rooney a tougher challenge at the moment. This is because Derby County are currently one place from the bottom of the Championship table having picked up just four wins and seven draws in 23 games.
Rooney took the managerial role on a permanent basis last Friday. It will see the 35-year old at the Pride Park Stadium until 2023. This follows on from a period where Rooney acted as a player-coach at Derby following the sacking of Phillip Cocu as manager. However, Rooney stated that it was ‘too much’ to effectively manage the team and play at the same time.
His first game as the new Derby boss didn’t go too well. This saw Derby losing 0-1 to Rotherham United at home last Saturday. It could have been Derby’s for the taking as Rotherham had been on a run of seven away defeats. But in the end Rooney’s team failed to score and continued having both the worst scoring and home records in the Championship.
All of this comes against the backdrop of an ongoing takeover saga at Derby County. Delays to the takeover meant that players weren’t paid their wages last December.
Derby was also victim to a coronavirus outbreak that meant that they had to field a second string team that was soundly beaten by non-league Chorley in the FA Cup. While Rooney is no stranger to some big battles, his current predicament might be one of his toughest challenges.
For most people, Rooney’s time at Derby is just the warm-up to the main event of the star making his overdue return to Old Trafford. Rooney left Manchester United after their win in the 2017 Europa League Final, and it’s widely believed that he’s keen to get the managerial job.
Although such a prospect is still some way off, Sir Alex Ferguson has already made a few positive comments about what Wayne Rooney is doing right with Derby County. Much will depend on how well Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plays out the rest of the season.
Manchester United have somehow emerged at the top of the Premier League table to earn their best top-flight start in years. This is all the more remarkable considering that Solskjaer has been perilously close to getting the boot numerous times in the past year.
Solskjaer was only supposed to be a temporary fix after the sacking of Jose Mourinho. But on recent form, the Norwegian looks to be making a good job of his managerial duties. All of which means that Rooney’s return to Old Trafford might have to wait a little longer.
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