The Wayne Rooney era begins at Birmingham City and the new Blues’ boss is targeting the Premier League. The footballing icon and Manchester United club legend - idolised by many and regarded as one of the greatest ever - is eyeing a return to the top flight for himself and his new side who suffered relegation from the Premier League over 12 years ago.
However, doubts have been cast over whether he’s the man for the job, given the 37-year-old’s history as a manager. But, given the manager's first press conference with the club, there are no doubts from the club’s hierarchy and Rooney is as driven as ever.
Birmingham’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary Cook, expects the former-Evertonian to bring a winning mentality to the club and it’s become evident that the appointment has been made to install this culture at Blues, and for the side to look forwards in one direction.
Cook, previously the CEO of the Saudi League Pro League, said: "I'll remind you - and I'll remind Wayne - his role here is to be a leader, to drive a successful, ambitious and winning mentality. He will do that throughout the Men's team, the First Team, Academy and all those involved in the development teams.
"The support, though, from all of us here in this Football Club to make Wayne and his team a success will be made available at every single level."
It’s been revealed that Rooney had been chased by those in the far-east…
It emerged that the 37-year-old rejected the chance to manage in Saudi Arabia’s Pro League, having been offered an opportunity to join former England and Liverpool midfielders Stephen Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, and former teammate of his, Cristiano Ronaldo.
But, the former England captain and forward said his plan was to always return home after quitting MLS side DC United who he took charge of in July 2022, and the substantial financial benefits of the SPL did not appeal to him and lure the Englishman.
Speaking to the media for the first time on Thursday since his appointment was announced on October 11th, Rooney said: “We discussed Saudi Arabia but it wasn’t going to happen. For me, my pathway was a different way.”
So the journey begins with Birmingham City, and Rooney has signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the club worth about £5 million.
But, it’s at the expense of John Eustace, who is unlikely to be out of a job for long, given how well he has done with the Blues so far. Football fans in general were left questioning the decision which has been dubbed as ‘the worst sacking ever’.
As expected, Rooney’s arrival has brought wide attention to the side, and local-reporter Alex Dicken who writes for Birmingham Live and the Birmingham Mail put this into perspective in a recent article.
Having attended Rooney’s first press conference, Dicken alluded to the fact that in John Eustance’s last press conference there were four members of the media present - one member of the written press and three broadcast journalists, and that this was the norm throughout Eustace’s time at the club.
However, the former England captain who sat beside Gary Cook to face questions from the media attracted over 30 journalists and was greeted by far many more than his predecessor.
Although, this is to be expected given Rooney’s stature. The announcement post from Birmingham City telling the world of their new manager ‘generated more views on social platform X than Tom Brady’s investment in Blues back in August’, Dicken reported.
Adding: “Tom Wager reckons Brady buying into Blues brought ‘17 billion positive media impressions’, so who knows what Rooney - whose social media following dwarfs Brady’s - is doing for the club’s metrics.”
First came the addition of NFL star Tom Brady followed by now Wayne Rooney. Two high-profile individuals - it’s clear to see what’s happening at Birmingham City here…
We can expect press-boxes to be full wherever the side go, and Rooney will face old England and Manchester United teammate Michael Carrick in his first game in charge as Birmingham travel to Middlesbrough. Rooney became the only English player alongside Carrick to win the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, League Cup, UEFA Europa League, and FIFA Club World Cup.
Next summer will mark the thirteenth year since Birmingham City’s relegation from the top division, as they currently hold sixth position in the Championship table. Rooney's support team will comprise of former England teammate Ashley Cole, former Manchester United defender John O'Shea, coach Carl Robinson, and analyst Pete Shuttleworth.
When Rooney took the reins at Derby County the team found themselves occupying the lowest position in the Championship standings. However, they managed to ascend to 18th spot, establishing a comfortable eight-point lead over the relegation zone. But, towards the end of the season they experienced a significant decline, narrowly escaping relegation by a mere point.
The following season brought about Derby’s relegation from the Championship, with Rooney unable to save the side despite rallying together three successive wins in December 2021 and 10 in their final 25 games of the season.
A total of 21 points were deducted from Derby’s tally - 12 for entering administration and nine for historical financial breaches. Without the deductions the side would’ve finished 17th on 55 points, and Rooney received praise for his efforts and work given the difficult circumstances.
Rooney achieved victory in 24 matches with Derby, settled for a draw in 22, and suffered defeat in 39 of the total 85 games under his management, encompassing those overseen by the managerial group. Consequently, his win rate stood at 28.2 percent.
Now with a club situated at the opposite end of the Championship table, it will be interesting to see what Rooney can do, and if his time in the USA has prepared him for a job of this calibre.
The former-player’s win percentage as a manager experienced a decline to 25.9 during his tenure as head coach in the MLS with DC United, and Rooney was unable to establish a significant impact in this role.
Despite securing a victory against New York City, his team were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this season, signifying the conclusion of Rooney's reign.
The intent from Birmingham City is clear to see, it just remains to see whether Rooney can deliver and bring glory days for Blues. It’s been made no secret that the club and Rooney’s ambition is to reach the Premier League, and he will get the full-backing in the January transfer window to improve a squad that does not seem equipped to achieve that currently.
If the former Manchester United forward who won five Premier League titles can lead Birmingham there, then the managerial appointment by Blues will have been a success. If not, then it is a failure, it’s as simple as that.