Wayne Rooney demands ‘no more hassle’ as Derby boss wants club takeover arranged so he can plan for next season after their last-ditch championship survival
- Derby County avoided relegation to League One on the last day of the season
- Their 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday meant that their opponents went down
- Wayne Rooney now wants clarity about the club’s future after a tough season
- Derby owner Mel Morris is struggling to sell to potential buyer Erik Alonso
For Wayne Rooney, it was a season ending his brilliant playing career, his first brushing with relegation and his first steps into the management world.
It’s been a different angle to the game for someone who has always played it with the boy’s free spirit in the playground.
At Derby, in a quiet corner of Pride Park after securing championship survival in a frantic 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, his instinct was to demand clarity from owner Mel Morris and the EFL on the proposed takeover of the club.
Derby manager Wayne Rooney celebrates the survival of his team on Saturday
Dark day for the owls
Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri apologized to fans for relegation and promised to keep faith in manager Darren Moore.
“I take full responsibility,” Chansiri said. The Owls were ultimately doomed to a six-point deduction for financial irregularities in the sale of the stadium to the chairman.
“I’m all sorry we got downgraded,” said the Thai owner. ‘This was never what I expected when I arrived in 2015. My vision was to take it to the Premier League on Wednesday. ‘
Sacking Garry Monk and replacing him with Tony Pulis, who only survived 45 days, failed this season. As did his decision to stay with the janitor’s boss Neil Thompson for so long before appointing Moore, who had a positive impact but was hit by Covid and pneumonia.
“Darren will certainly be the manager,” Chansiri said.
“I wish him all the best as he continues his recovery.”
“No more hassle, it has to be done,” said Rooney in strict management tones. “We cannot afford to let this club be in the position it has been in this season. It should be sorted out as soon as possible.
‘It has been frustrating. I’m sure you know I’ve set up a front to keep that away from the players. We can now step back and I can say it needs to be resolved. ‘
Managing upward, as they like to call it on the courses. Rooney learns on the job. Not only when it comes to relations at board level but also within the dressing room.
Take his friendship with Martyn Waghorn, Derby’s hero on Saturday. Waghorn scored twice and set up the other goal. His 78th minute penalty made it 3-3 and sent back to League One on Wednesday, relegated with Rotherham and Wycombe.
“When I was a player here, I had a good relationship with Waggy,” said Rooney. ‘We played together on the PlayStations with talking headphones. When I became a manager, I had to distance myself from that.
‘I had the moment with him when I dropped him from the squad. You have to make those decisions as a manager.
‘We let him sit, we showed him video clips of himself in previous years. We showed him video clips of other players. We worked on his movement in the box.
‘His first goal, I can’t tell you how happy I was. Also for the coaches. He, placing himself in the center of the goal, good movement, in a position to score goals. This is all due to his hard work over the past few weeks. Since I left him out of the squad and sat down with him and talked to him, there has been a tremendous change in him. He deserves a lot of credit. ‘
Derby owner Mel Morris (above) is struggling to sell the club despite interest from Erik Alonso
Waghorn, 31, is one of three senior Derby players without a contract and Rooney says he is keen to sort out such loose ends and work on recruiting for next season. The manager may be stronger and wiser for his first season in the dugout, but his squad needs investment to transform into one that can compete for promotion.
Aside from Rooney’s own substantial salary, neither he nor his predecessor Phillip Cocu were blessed with the kind of transfer budget that enabled Frank Lampard to team up with Mason Mount, Harry Wilson, Fikayo Tomori and Ashley Cole in 2018-19, a season that ended in defeat in a Wembley play-off final.
As with Lampard, the Rooney factor will attract players, but they will not come for free and the level of investment will depend on the acquisition.
Morris is determined to sell after pumping millions with little returns, but concerns remain over a proposed sale to a consortium led by Spanish agent and boxing promoter Erik Alonso.
Martyn Waghorn scored two crucial goals in Derby’s 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday
As revealed by Sportsmail last week, Alonso has yet to prove that he has the means to cover large loans guaranteed against the stadium.
“We all need clarity, especially the fans,” said Rooney. ‘It has to be sorted out as soon as possible. I’m sure it will. We are in a place where it seems like it is happening, but it has to be done quickly. We can have no more mess, no more hassle, it has to be done.
‘That allows me to have our plans for the championship in order next year. I have done a lot of work: the preseason is over, the fixtures are done, everything is ready. But from the point of view of the people above me, we need to have everything sorted out to make sure I can do that work the best I can. ‘
Welcome to management, Wayne.