Shared ambition makes Rooney and Birmingham the perfect pairing10 October 2023
Wayne Rooney and Birmingham City are the perfect pairing right now. Both at a crucial crossroads, and each having big ambitions for the future.
The sacking of John Eustace has been explained by Birmingham's chief executive, Garry Cook, who says the previous head coach was "misaligned" with the club's leadership team, on a number of key points.
Cook is trying to keep the Birmingham support on-side, knowing the sacking is unpopular with a significant proportion of them, who don't see Rooney - who has only taken charge of struggling Derby County so far in England - as a managerial upgrade.
After all, under Eustace, Birmingham reached sixth in the Championship, and have taken six points and scored seven goals in their last two Championship matches. A harsh sacking, for sure.
But when you realise that the plan to recruit Rooney stretches back several weeks - when Blues took only one point from three matches against Preston, QPR and Norwich - Birmingham's bosses think it is easier to justify and explain their decision.
It was inevitable. Eustace knew it. New club owners like to bring in their own people in key positions.
And when you look at the mission statement of owner Tom Wagner when his Knighthead Capital Management group bought Birmingham three months ago, the recruitment of Rooney should come as no surprise.
Wagner is the former managing director of Goldman Sachs, and so there's no doubting his business credentials. His sporting connections are equally impressive, having worked with former world tennis No 1 Kim Clijsters, and NFL superstar Tom Brady, who has also now invested in Birmingham City.
Wagner's Knighthead Capital Management is a business designed to make money from companies in distress, with a speciality in events.
When he bought Birmingham in July, he wrote to the club's fans, outlining his vision, which is ambitious, and unapologetic - much like this decision to change the men's first team manager.
In July, he listed six points, which would be the cornerstones of his attempts to turn Birmingham from lower-table Championship survivors into perennial Premier League dwellers, in the years to come.
Point two in his mission statement talks about "the addition of exceptional leaders who are experienced in… world-leading sporting businesses".
Rooney is, by his very make-up, a born leader. A former England and Manchester United captain, until March this year, he was England's all-time leading goalscorer. Inspirational, just in his very being at a football club.
And when he became manager at Derby, he was the uniting force that held the squad together, when the team was handed a 21-point deduction, and was ultimately relegated. By all accounts, the Derby players loved him, and rallied behind his leadership, even though it didn't quite manage to achieve the impossible, of staying up.
Birmingham's bosses see Rooney as a key piece in their wider jigsaw, one whose existing reputation and growing influence as a coach can inspire the men's team to greater things.
But it's point four in Wagner's vision for Birmingham which gives one of the biggest clues about why Rooney is perfect for Blues right now: "We will focus on increasing revenue through all means available so that we will be able to invest in line with the Championship Profitability and Sustainability rules for our teams on the pitch."
Wagner is intent on making Birmingham City a global phenomenon. Only by raising millions of pounds, can they compete for promotion. Rooney is a money-making machine. A worldwide brand in his own right.
Aligning Rooney's commercial pulling-power with that of Brady means Birmingham have two of the biggest world stars from the realms of football and American football. Sponsors and commercial partners, the argument goes, should be falling over themselves to invest in Birmingham. Let's see.
From Rooney's point of view, the appeal of the role is obvious.
At this stage of his coaching development, he is unlikely to be offered a Premier League job. And so a big, ambitious Championship club is the perfect next step for a man who wants to be a top manager in the English game.
To Rooney's immense credit, he has chosen a route very different to that of some of his peers, who went straight into management positions at top clubs.
Starting his coaching journey at Pride Park - where the off-the-field shambles made his on-field job incredibly testing - was a baptism of fire. But Rooney learned a lot.
He has continued his learning in the MLS, albeit without the levels of success he craved. DC United missed out on the play-offs for each of the two seasons he was at the helm. A parting of the ways was timely, and inevitable.
And so Birmingham is the right club at the right time, for a coach whose support team who have been very calculated and considered in their plan to plot his way up the managerial ladder.
It is something of a gamble for both the club and the soon-to-be manager, of course. Both sides of the deal are aspiring to something that neither has yet achieved.
But there is a shared ambition and drive on both sides, to get to the very top. And that may stand Birmingham in good stead in the seasons to come.
Correctly predict six scorelines to win £250,000 for free with Super 6. Entries by 3pm Saturday.
This news item was provided by the SkySports | News website - the original link is: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11688/12981787/wayne-rooney-birminghams-pursuit-of-england-legend-could-lead-to-the-perfect-pairing