Wayne Rooney the manager – what Man Utd legend brings to dugout as he eyes next club

Wayne Rooney sprang a shock with his exit from troubled Derby County.

The 36-year-old might have left behind a club in the third tier after relegation last term, but he departs Pride Park with his reputation firmly enhanced given his handling of what has been a tough situation from start to finish.

Since being made permanent boss in January 2021, Rooney has had to deal with embargoes, points deductions and an ongoing and at times farcical takeover saga.

Now the dust is starting to settle on his reign, Mirror Football runs the rule over the coaching credentials of Rooney ahead of his next managerial role.

Results

On merit, Derby would have survived in the Championship last season having accrued 55 points. That was the same total as 17th-placed Bristol City. However, the huge 21-point handicap – given to them for entering administration and breaching accounting rules – meant they were always going to be up against it in their improbable battle to stay up.





Wayne Rooney masterminded some eye-raising wins for Derby last season


Wayne Rooney masterminded some eye-raising wins for Derby last season

In the end they fell seven points short of their goal, but throughout the campaign they pulled off some eye-raising results. A five-game unbeaten streak around Christmas time saw them topple high-flying West Brom and win away at Stoke before seeing off Sheffield United.

Another superb result came on Good Friday when Rooney’s side saw off leaders Fulham 2-1 at home. It showed the Rams’ fighting spirit and ability to pull off a shock albeit in their dire situation.

Tactics

Given his scant resources at Derby, Rooney generally had to work with what he had. But that didn’t stop him from making tactical tweaks.





Rooney and assistant Liam Rosenior often tweaked Derby's tactics during a tough season


Rooney and assistant Liam Rosenior often tweaked Derby’s tactics during a tough season

He favoured 4-4-2 often, but at times reverted to playing a back three. Given the predicament of the club, often Rooney would alter his personnel and tactics to reflect the strength of the opposition team. It would be interesting to see how he fares at another club with greater resources.

Another element of Rooney’s plan was their pressing game, with opposition often hassled and harried into making quick decisions when playing out of defence. When executed successfully, it had the potential to be a key part of Derby’s arsenal.

Transfers

This is one area where it is nigh-on impossible to judge Rooney.

During his 17 months in charge he did not pay a single transfer fee, owing to Derby’s well-documented financial struggles. His first window, in early 2021, saw him bring in five loan players with Patrick Roberts and George Edmundson playing their part as the club stayed up on the final day of the campaign.





Rooney was restricted to loans and free agents, such as Phil Jagielka, during his time in charge of Derby


Rooney was restricted to loans and free agents, such as Phil Jagielka, during his time in charge of Derby

The summer of 2021 then saw Rooney restricted to free agents with Phil Jagielka and Ravel Morrison among those to join and both impressed.

His final window in charge last January saw him bring in zero signings, with a clutch of players having to be sold off to aid the club’s coffers.

Personality

Throughout his tenure Rooney earned huge praise from the media, whether that be local reporters who dealt with him on a game-by-game basis or national journalists whose dealings were less frequent.

He was always willing to give his time and never appeared frustrated at some of the constant questions (if he did, he didn’t show it). He rightly won plaudits for his statesmanlike attitude and leadership and during troubled times, Derby supporters warmed to him.





Rooney earned plaudits for his openness and honesty with the media


Rooney earned plaudits for his openness and honesty with the media

He never shirked away from those fans either and he showed his class just hours after the club’s relegation was confirmed in April, addressing a handful of supporters who had gathered at Derby’s training ground.

He told the group: “We’re grateful for the support you’ve shown us all season. It’s been f****** tough, been hard. Difficult moments for us, for you (fans) especially. But we’ve tried our best, we’ve given everything we can. It’s unfortunate we’ve been relegated but now we’ll plan to make sure this club comes back.”

Ultimately, Rooney and Derby would go their separate ways but with a takeover finally looking like getting ratified, a positive outlook could lie ahead for both parties.

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