Wayne Rooney has told Derby County’s players he will be in charge of team affairs for the foreseeable future and has confirmed he is ready to retire as a player if installed as 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 Wanderers having been part of an interim coaching quartet alongside Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker since Phillip Cocu’s sacking.
Rooney organised a meeting with Derby’s players at the training ground on Friday morning – where he addressed the confusion and uncertainties within the squad – after some had no idea that he was taking charge until they saw the information on Sky Sports News on Thursday night.
England’s all-time leading goalscorer then led Friday’s training session with support from Rosenior, following a number of players expressing concerns that there were too many voices within the coaching set-up, which too often led to unclear instruction and mixed messages.
The Rams fell to a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on Wednesday night with Rosenior labelling the team’s display as “painful and chastening” while Derby’s technical director Steve McClaren, who has returned to the club for a fifth spell, watched his new team fail to win for the ninth game in succession.
Meanwhile, a consortium headed by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan – involved in the appointment of the former England boss – is expected to complete its takeover of the club in the next few days.
When asked if he was ready to hang up his boots to potentially take the manager’s job full-time, 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.”
Rooney added: “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.
“We’ve spoken to Steve (McClaren) 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.”