The transfer window is always good for a few surprises and Derby County have caught everyone off guard with an announcement that is one of the biggest shock signings the modern era has seen. Wayne Rooney is due to become a player-coach for the Championship club as of January. So how has this deal come about and will Rooney be a success?
Rooney is currently playing for DC United in the MLS where he’s become their star man since joining them in 2018 from his boyhood team Everton. England’s record goal scorer has contributed 25 goals and 13 assists in just 46 appearances during his spell in the United States and he’ll leave a huge hole when he does eventually move back to the UK.
Rumours of the man to fill that void have began circulating already though and it seems Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil could be heading across the pond.
When Rooney first joined DC, he stated how much he was enjoying living a ‘normal’ life in the USA’s capital state and the home of NFL odds outsiders Washington Wizards. Still, despite being somewhat under the radar and turning in impressive displays on the pitch it’s been reported that his family have struggled away from their homeland. Rooney admitted the schooling of his children has played a considerable factor in his decision to return.
Rooney flew back to England two weeks ago with the DC coach, Ben Olsen, citing a rest as the reason. It was only then that clubs became aware of his desire to leave America. Although several teams – none of whom have been named as yet – were interested it’s believed the offer of an extension to his playing career as well as the opportunity to gain some valuable coaching experience at a decent level was something that Rooney couldn’t turn down.
Especially with his belief that Derby are ‘ambitious’ and determined to take the ‘next step’ of Premier League football. To be fair, they only lost in the playoff of the Championship last season to Aston Villa and their coach was a former England international and Premier League legend: Frank Lampard.
If Lampard was now given the job at Chelsea, maybe Rooney intends to become Manchester United coach in the long run?
On the pitch, the former England skipper still has a desire that burns brightly and with his talent it’s unquestionable that he can still bring value to the team. In fairness he would still offer something to most Premier League teams – but behind the scenes he’ll arguably be of even more value.
Rooney has had a playing career that has seen pretty much everything; from bursting on the scene as a 16-year-old when he found the top corner against David Seaman to the crushing lows of being sent off in a World Cup quarter final for an act of gross misconduct. Those lessons will be invaluable to the youngsters Rooney wants to pass his wisdom on to.
He may be perceived by many to be ‘dim’ but when you hear him communicate it’s clear there is much more between his ears than the mainstream media would have you believe and his ability to play almost anywhere on the field is a testament to his football brain.
The only thing that could be Rooney’s undoing at Derby is how the relationship will work with manager Phillip Cocu. It is possible that Cocu was the man who wanted Rooney but it’s chairman Mel Morris who looks like he’s organised the deal and although Cocu spoke highly of Rooney during his press unveiling by describing his new man as a ‘star player’ who will aid Derby with both his ‘quality’ and ‘experience’.
Given the Dutchman’s last post – with Fenerbahce – lasted just a few months could a young, hungry up and coming coach with aspirations of one day being a manager cause him to look over his shoulder? If Derby are wobbling come January, we might just find out.