Rooney won’t give up on management after Birmingham axe

3 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Wayne Rooney will not give up on his career as a football manager and retains a burning ambition to be a top coach, Sky Sports News has been told.

Rooney was sacked by Birmingham City on Tuesday after just 83 days in charge and will now take an extended break from football to reflect and consider what he wants from his next role.

In a statement, he admitted “it will take me some time to get over this setback” and it’s clear that Rooney has been hurt by both the manner of his sacking, and by the abuse he has received from some supporters.

The former England captain was jeered by Leeds fans, and by some of Birmingham’s travelling support, at Elland Road during their 3-0 defeat on New Year’s Day. Rooney said after the game that he found references to Jimmy Savile particularly upsetting.

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Speaking ahead of Rooney’s sacking by Birmingham, Gareth Ainsworth and Jobi McAnuff analysed the club’s problems

Despite that, Sky Sports News has been told Rooney retains a burning long-term ambition to be a top manager and that has not been dented by recent events. He will not, however, actively consider any offers or coaching opportunities for the time being.

Meanwhile, Birmingham have yet to agree a compensation package with Rooney, following his sacking.

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Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett explains why the Birmingham hierarchy made the decision to sack manager Rooney after 15 games in charge

Rooney signed a three-and-a-half-year contract at St Andrew’s in October, and it is normal practice for that legal document to contain a framework of payments, should the manager be relieved of his duties.

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However, Sky Sports News understands no discussions around compensation have been held as yet.

‘Rooney can’t quit game he loves’

Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett:

Wayne Rooney is one of the finest footballers England has ever produced. A former England captain, he was the nation’s all-time leading goalscorer – before Harry Kane surpassed his record in March. He is still Manchester United’s record goalscorer.

He has won five Premier League titles, the Champions League, the Europa League, the Club World Cup, the FA Cup and three League Cups.

Since taking the Premier League by storm with that goal for Everton as a 16-year-old in 2002, he has never been out of the media spotlight, or taken a break from the game. Until now.

And while it’s been made clear to me that Rooney has no plans to retire from football management, he will, for the first time in more than 21 years, take an extended break from the game to reflect and recuperate. He’s hurting.

Not just by his Birmingham sacking, 83 days into a three-and-a-half-year project, but also by the way he has been abused by some supporters in recent times.

At Elland Road on New Year’s Day, there were lewd sexual jeers about him and his family as well as other unsavoury chants. Rooney said he found it “unacceptable” but didn’t complain. In any other workplace, such abuse could lead to criminal charges.

Whatever your viewpoint on the rights and wrongs of the poisonous chants from the stands, it is undoubtedly hugely disrespectful to a man who is a living football legend.

It is admirable, and perhaps surprising, that Rooney still wants to put himself in the firing line and strive to become a top manager in years to come. He certainly doesn’t need the money.

So why isn’t he quitting now? Perhaps turning his attentions to punditry, where his experience and status – combined with an obvious football intelligence – would be more pain-free and lucrative?

Whenever I have interviewed him, I have found him funny and engaging. He never ducks a question and has strong opinions on the way football should be played. All characteristics which would make him an excellent TV football analyst.


Image: A comparison of John Eustace and Wayne Rooney’s stats in charge of Birmingham

Or why isn’t he stepping back from football altogether, spending time with his family, and enjoying the riches he has accrued over almost two decades as an elite footballer? It’s because football is his obsession and all he has ever known. You get the impression he can’t step away, even if he wants to.

If you speak to people at St Andrew’s, they will tell you about the incredibly detailed and visionary presentation he made in an ‘open house’ with the Blues supporters, when he took over the job in October. It contained a passionate and impressive analysis of the team’s identity and tactics.

If you speak to any of the Derby County players who played underneath Rooney during the dark times when the club was in administration in 2022, they will tell you how he inspired everyone at the club – on the training pitches and in the offices.

It was his first job as a manager, and people at Pride Park still talk glowingly about how he galvanised the depleted squad and motivated them to very nearly achieve the seemingly impossible task of staying in the Championship, despite a 21-point deduction.

Derby were only relegated with three games of the season to go, having taken seven points from five games before that.

None of this should gloss over the fact that Rooney’s short time in charge of Birmingham was a disaster. Nor should it be read as a criticism of Birmingham for sacking him when they did. Results have been abysmal.

Wayne Rooney has left his position as manager

Image: Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham record

Derby’s valiant fight aside, Rooney’s fledgling managerial career has so far been underwhelming. It is light years away from the heights he scaled as a player.

So far, he hasn’t been able to translate his footballing brilliance into a coaching display that can produce results on the pitch. In Washington DC or Birmingham.

But it would be a real shame if Rooney were lost to English football. If the constant barracking and abuse forced him into hiding.

If and when he does pop his managerial head above football’s parapet again in the future – and I’m assured he will – his choice of employer will be key.

It remains to be seen which club will be prepared to take a punt on a footballing genius, who has yet to make his mark in management.

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