The legend of Manchester United was invited by the new owners and explained their controversial decision.
In 2022, Wayne Rooney couldn't save Derby County from relegation to the third division of English football. The club hoped he would stay and lead them to a revival. Still, the Englishman chose to take on a new challenge in another country, the USA, where he managed an underperforming team. It's been almost a year and a half, and Rooney didn't achieve significant success there. Now he has returned, this time to the Championship with Birmingham. He has signed a three-year contract, boasting a star-studded coaching staff with Ashley Cole and John O'Shea, ambitious leadership, and a new chance to potentially reach the Premier League.
Rooney was brought to Birmingham by new owners who dismissed the previous coach, much to the displeasure of many
In the summer, the English Football League approved the purchase of a controlling stake in Birmingham by the American Shelby Companies fund. American businessman Tom Wagner initially took charge of the club's affairs while guaranteeing financial stability and excellent prospects. American football legend Tom Brady also joined as a minority shareholder and advisory board chairman. The club was finally committed to rejuvenation. In recent years, Birmingham had been associated with the image of underachievers, starting with the crucial task of finding a new head coach.
However, the timing of the change could have been better because the previous coach, John Yustas, had started the season very well. At the time of his dismissal, the team was in sixth place. Birmingham had finished 17th in the previous Championship season, their best performance since 2018/2019. The team had amassed more points in the 2015/2016 season.
Yustas' dismissal, as reported by Sky Sports, had upset the players and staff because he was highly popular among the team, and they believed his status would only strengthen with the arrival of new owners.
The wording of Rooney's appointment was especially amusing. The official website announced that the leadership wanted a coach "with a winning mentality and ambition." They must remember that the new coach had never competed for top positions.
Birmingham owner Tom Wagner said, "Wayne is a born winner. We believe that with the support of his coaching staff, the club, and our fans, he will take the team a significant step forward. His coaching philosophy will help us achieve the ambitions we set for Birmingham. Wayne has been preparing for this opportunity since he began his coaching career. He and his staff have the full support of the board of directors and all club employees."
Informally, it is believed that Harry Cook, the executive director of Birmingham, lobbied for Rooney's candidacy. He had previously held a similar position at Manchester City, overseeing significant transfers, infrastructure development, and the appointment of Roberto Mancini. In recent years, Cook had been working in Saudi Arabia, but he joined Birmingham after the new owners arrived. Cook had long admired Rooney and genuinely considered him a promising coach.
How is Rooney coping with coaching?
As for Rooney's coaching credentials, he played his last professional match in November 2020. At that time, Derby County dismissed Philip Cocu and offered Rooney the position of interim coach. Within a few months, Rooney was appointed full-time coach at 35. The second half of the season went well, as the young coach lifted the team from the bottom of the table to 17th place.
The second season was catastrophic, but not due to Rooney. The team had been deducted a total of 21 points by the league due to various reasons. Nevertheless, the coach continued to lead the team until the end of the season, even though there was almost no chance of survival. However, it's easy to see that if not for the league's sanctions, Derby County would have finished in the same 17th place in the Championship. It was expected that Rooney would stay for a third season, but he changed his heart and went to the USA in the summer.
Birmingham is a promising option for a fresh start and a potential return to the Premier League. With their current sixth-place position, substantial financial backing, and expected solid winter signings, Rooney will start his new adventure on October 21st in a match against Middlesbrough, led by his former Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick.
Published by Patrick Jane