Wayne Rooney happy to quit playing if given management opportunity

Wayne Rooney has confirmed he is ready to retire as a player if installed as Derby’s full-time manager by the club’s prospective new owners.

Rooney will take sole charge of the club for Saturday’s home game against Wycombe having been been part of an interim coaching quartet of Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker.

The Rams sacked Phillip Cocu earlier this month after they had won only one of their first 11 games and they have since lost their last two matches.

“We’re focussing on the game tomorrow, that’s what we’re looking at and beyond that I’ll speak to (new director of football) Steve McClaren and the new owners once that is finalised,” Rooney said.

A consortium headed by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is expected to complete their takeover of the club in the next few days and they were involved in the appointment of former England boss McClaren earlier this week.

When asked if he was ready to hang up his boots, Rooney said: “If I’m managing the team for a longer scale, I don’t think it’s possible to manage and play, so of course that is a possibility.

“If I’m not managing the team and I’m part of the coaching staff then I’ll continue to play, but if I’m asked to manage the team on a full-time basis then of course that will be the end of my playing days, yes.”

Shay Given (left) and Liam Rosenior (right) have been part of a management quartet since Phillip Cocu’s sacking
Shay Given (left) and Liam Rosenior (right) have been part of a management quartet since Phillip Cocu’s sacking

Derby are bottom of the Sky Bet Championship, six points from safety. They are winless in their last nine matches and on a run of four straight defeats.

Rooney said: “We felt it needed one voice, one person to make the decisions on the team and substitutions during the game and we felt I was the right man for that, so that’s where we’re at.

“It’s exciting for me to do that. Management is always something I’ve stressed I want to go into, so it’s an opportunity for me to try and pick the right team to get a positive result.

“I played in the last game, but if I’m making decisions on who plays and who doesn’t and obviously preparing the team, I wouldn’t be able to give it my full attention and still be part of the game, so I won’t be involved tomorrow.”

𝗪𝗥: 🗣 "We aren’t where we want to be. We’re bottom of the league, and we’re there for a reason. It’s important the players have the belief to express themselves."#DCFCvWWFCpic.twitter.com/SXYteH3jU0

— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) November 27, 2020

Former England boss McClaren, 59, who has had two spells as Derby manager, returned to Pride Park following an agreement between current owner Mel Morris and Derventio Holdings, who are owned by Sheikh Khaled.

Rooney added: “We’ve spoken to Steve every day since he’s been in. He was part of that conversation. The decision has been made and we just have to look forward.

“We have to solely focus on tomorrow’s game and then of course the new owners will be in.

“I’m sure it will be done in the next few days. Once that is complete, there will be conversations and we’ll see where that goes.”

Rooney, 35, has yet to gain his full set of coaching badges, but is making progress on gaining his A licence.