Wayne Rooney wants Derby's takeover sorted so that he can plan for next season


For Wayne Rooney, it has been a season of closure on his glittering playing career, his first brush with relegation and his first steps into the managerial world.

It has been a different angle on the game for someone who always played it with the free spirit of the boy 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 about the club’s proposed takeover.

Derby manager Wayne Rooney celebrates his side's Championship survival on Saturday

Derby manager Wayne Rooney celebrates his side’s Championship survival on Saturday

Dark day for the Owls

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri apologised to the fans for relegation and vowed to keep faith in manager Darren Moore.

‘I take full responsibility,’ said Chansiri. The Owls were ultimately doomed by a six-point deduction for financial irregularities over the sale of the stadium to the chairman.

‘I am sorry to you all that we have been relegated,’ said the Thai owner. ‘This was never what I anticipated when I came in 2015. My vision was to take Wednesday into the Premier League.’

Sacking Garry Monk and replacing him with Tony Pulis, who survived only 45 days, backfired this season. As did his decision to drift for so long with caretaker boss Neil Thompson before appointing Moore, who made a positive impact but was struck down by Covid and pneumonia.

‘Darren will be the manager for sure,’ said Chansiri.

‘I wish him all the best as he continues his recovery.’

‘No more messing around, it has to happen,’ said Rooney, in stern managerial tones. ‘We can’t afford to allow this club to be in the position it’s been in this season. It needs sorting out as soon as possible.

‘It’s been frustrating. I’m sure you know I put on a front to keep that away from the players. We can take a step back now and I can say it needs to be sorted.’

Managing upwards, as they like to call it on the courses. Rooney is learning on the job. Not only when it comes to relationships 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 penalty in the 78th minute made it 3-3, and sent Wednesday back to League One, relegated with Rotherham and Wycombe.

‘When I was a player here, I was close with Waggy,’ said Rooney. ‘We’d play on the PlayStations together, headphones talking. When I became manager, I had to distance myself from that.

‘I had the moment with him where I’m dropping him out of the squad. You have to make those decisions as a manager.

‘We sat him down, 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. For the coaches as well. Him, putting himself in the middle of the goal, good movement, in a position to score goals. That all comes from his hard work in the last few weeks. Since I left him out of the squad and sat him down and spoke to him, there’s been a massive change in him. He deserves a lot of praise.’

Derby owner Mel Morris (above) is struggling to sell the club despite interest from Erik Alonso

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 out of contract and Rooney says he is keen to sort out such loose ends and work on recruitment for next season. The manager may be stronger and wiser for his first season in the dugout but his squad requires investment if it is to be transformed into one capable of competing for promotion.

Aside from Rooney’s own considerable salary, neither he nor his predecessor Phillip Cocu were blessed with the sort of transfer budget that allowed Frank Lampard to build a team featuring 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 won’t come for free and the level of investment will hinge on the takeover.

Morris is determined to sell after pumping in millions with little return, but concerns remain around 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 with Sheffield Wednesday

Martyn Waghorn scored two crucial goals in Derby’s 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday

As revealed by Sportsmail last week, Alonso is yet to prove he has the funds to cover large loans guaranteed against the stadium.

‘We all need clarity, especially the fans,’ said Rooney. ‘It needs sorting out as soon as possible. I’m sure it will. We’re in a place where it looks like it’s happening that way, but it has to happen quickly. We can’t have any more mess-ups, no more messing around, it has to happen.

‘That allows me to have our plans in place for the Championship next year. I’ve had a lot of work done: pre-season is done, the fixtures are done, everything is done. But we need everything sorted out from a point of view of the people above me to make sure it allows me to do that job to the best of my ability.’

Welcome to management, Wayne.

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