Wayne Rooney is adapting a managerial tactic inspired by former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The former Derby County boss was announced as the new head coach of MLS outfit D.C. United earlier this year as he continues his fledgling coaching career. It will come as little surprise that he attempts to take inspiration from Ferguson, whom he played under across nine seasons at Old Trafford.
Rooney’s time at the Washington-based club has not gone to plan so far, with just two wins from 12 in the dugout and overseeing seven defeats. He is attempting to broaden his coaching career following a difficult season-and-a-half at Pride Park, in the midst of the club’s financial problems.
The 36-year-old only hung up his boots to call time on his playing career last year but is already closing in on his 100 th match in management and has now opened up on his techniques for management.
One of those, he has explained, is asking players to become involved in sessions and ask their opinions on what they were being instructed to do. He believes this helps players not only to understand what they are being asked, but also makes it more likely they will buy into ideas.
Rooney explained, in an interview with The Times : “The big thing is to treat them as adults. They’re young, but treat them like men and it means a lot to them. You can give them a (tactical) structure but you can’t stand next to them on the pitch: they have to take responsibility and make decisions for themselves.”
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Rooney continued: “I encourage my players to have opinions and bring up whatever they want with me. I like debate. I always say debate brings clarity.
“I’ve had managers who the players wouldn’t speak a work to and the way I work is to ask the players ‘do you understand what I’m asking of you?’ and if they don’t we can go into more detail and I’ll ask what they think. Louis Van Gaal did that. He was the first manager I had who asked the players what they thought. He’d have meetings and encourage you to speak up.”
When asked if Sir Alex encouraged debate amongst his players, Rooney smiled and cryptically added: “Depends what it was.”
Rooney spent nine seasons under Ferguson’s management at Old Trafford, before seeing out his United career with spells under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, before re-joining Everton in 2017.