WAYNE ROONEY risks putting pride before a fall at Derby as he takes over as interim boss on Monday.
Wayne Rooney should be cautious about accepting such a tough job as Derby for his first appointment as a managerCredit: PA
Ex-PSV Eindhoven chief Phillip Cocu has exited Pride Park with the Rams bottom of the ChampionshipCredit: PA:Press Association
The Rams have a history as one of England’s most illustrious clubs, linked with legendary figures like Brian Clough, Dave Mackay, Francis Lee, Peter Shilton and Roy McFarland.
And Rooney’s arrival as Phillip Cocu’s player-coach in January was always supposed to lead him into his first job as a manager.
That’s why he walked away from a lucrative contract that still had two years to run at MLS club DC United and his progression was supposed to be set in stone.
FROM 2004 LIONS TO THE DUGOUT
TEN of England’s starting XI against Portugal at Euro 2004 have now gone into coaching or management. Here is what they have done.
DAVID BECKHAM: England (2010, coach).
DAVID JAMES: Kerala Blasters (2018, manager).
PAUL SCHOLES: Oldham (2019, manager), Salford (2014-, owner; 2020, manager).
WAYNE ROONEY: Derby (2020-, caretaker manager).
GARY NEVILLE: England (2012-16, assistant) Valencia (2015-16, manager).
STEVEN GERRARD: Liverpool (2017-18, youth coach), Rangers (2018-, manager).
FRANK LAMPARD: Derby (2018-19, manager), Chelsea (2019-, manager).
ASHLEY COLE: Derby (2018-19, coach), Chelsea (2019-, coach).
SOL CAMPBELL: Macclesfield (2018-19, manager), Southend (2019-20, manager).
JOHN TERRY: Aston Villa (2018-, assistant).
MICHAEL OWEN: None
The scenario was that Cocu would make way once he had led the Rams back to the Premier League.
Cocu, 50, appeared to have all the right credentials as Rooney’s mentor.
He took PSV Eindhoven to three Eredivisie titles in four years, made 101 appearances for Holland and spent six years playing at Barcelona.
And 35-year-old Rooney should have been able to take notes on how to get a Championship club promoted.
Yet England’s 53-goal record scorer wasn’t even able to take notes on crisis management because Cocu appeared clueless about that side of the job.
On July 1, Rooney scored the only goal in the win at Preston that took Derby to seventh in the table, one point off the play-offs.
They then fell like a stone, taking one point from their next five games before a final-day 3-1 triumph at Birmingham.
This season, Derby have won once in 11 league games — meaning they have just TWO victories in their last 17 league matches — and are rock bottom.
So saving them would be a huge feather in Roo’s cap.
Player-coach Wayne Rooney has stepped up to replace Dutch manager Phillip Cocu after just one Championship win for Derby so far this seasonCredit: Reuters
But those 17 Championship games show he should be under no illusions if prospective new owner Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan offers him the job.
Derby’s form suggests not only a complete lack of leadership by Cocu but also that too many of the players have had a true grit bypass.
They are playing like losers and, even as captain, Rooney has been unable to shake them out of their lethargy.
By the time he takes charge against Bristol City on Saturday, County could be five points adrift of 21st place if Coventry beat Brum the night before.
The job facing Cocu’s replacement is surely not one for a virgin soldier like Rooney, despite spending nine years working under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, while becoming their record scorer with 253 goals.
Fireman Sam Allardyce would be a better bet to keep Derby up, or fellow street-fighter Tony Pulis.
But 24 hours before current owner Mel Morris finally got rid of Cocu, Pulis was appointed as Garry Monk’s successor at Sheffield Wednesday.
And even the Owls are above Derby, despite having suffered a six-point deduction.
The hope for the Rams would be boat-loads of cash for a transfer-window splurge.. But it might already be too late.
Sheikh Khaled and his takeover company Derventio Holdings, can be expected to throw money at the problem.
He is a distant cousin of another member of Abu Dhabi royalty, Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour.
The hope for the Rams would be he will pour boat-loads of cash into a January transfer-window splurge and all will be well.
But it might already be too late by then.
Everything suggests Rooney would be mad to start his first job as a manager in a grim battle for survival with players who have lost their way.
Derby have been in the third tier of English football twice before.
Making it three, under his management, would not look good on his CV and he could be left ruing the day he let his heart rule his head.
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