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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Ben Fisher

Wayne Rooney vows to ‘elevate’ Birmingham City as club’s new manager

Wayne Rooney takes charge at Birmingham having previously managed Derby County and, most recently, DC United
Wayne Rooney takes charge at Birmingham having previously managed Derby County and, most recently, DC United. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney said he plans to “elevate Birmingham City to the next level” after being appointed the Championship club’s new manager on a three-and-a-half-year contract. Rooney replaces John Eustace, who was sacked on Monday.

In a statement confirming Rooney’s appointment on Wednesday Garry Cook, Birmingham’s chief executive, described the 37-year-old’s arrival as a “defining moment” in their history. “When the opportunity presents itself to appoint a manager who shares your ambition and is both a student and a great of the game, then you act,” Cook said. “This is what we have done.”

Cook is understood to be the driver behind the deal. Last year Cook, previously the chief executive of Manchester City, was part of Chris Kirchner’s failed bid to buy Derby County, the last club Rooney managed in England.

Rooney, who left DC United last weekend, will be assisted by Ashley Cole and John O’Shea, former teammates of his. Cole and O’Shea will retain their coaching roles with England Under-21s and the Republic of Ireland respectively.

Birmingham’s chairman, Tom Wagner, who completed a takeover in July, said the former England captain will take the club “forward on the next stage of our journey”, adding: “His playing philosophy will help to realise the ambitions we have set for Birmingham City.”

Rooney resigned from his role at Derby in June 2022 following relegation to League One. He took charge at DC United the following month, before leaving his post last weekend after failing to reach the Major League Soccer playoffs.

Rooney initially took interim charge at Derby as a player-manager and was widely praised for the job he did upon taking over permanently amid trying circumstances – the club were docked 12 points for entering administration, then received a nine-point penalty for breaching English Football League financial rules. Rooney helped galvanise the club amid the threat of liquidation.

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His first game in charge of Birmingham will be at Middlesbrough a week on Saturday, when he will come up against Michael Carrick, with whom he played at England and Manchester United. “I have a clear way that I want the team to play, and my coaching staff and I will work hard to implement it,” Rooney said. “We will create a winning culture here with an identity that gets Blues fans on their feet.

“My job is to elevate the club to the next level and I can’t wait to get started. I know what the expectations are and our job is to deliver.”

Rooney’s backroom staff includes Pete Shuttleworth, a former scout and analyst who previously worked at Birmingham and who Rooney took with him to DC United from Derby, and Carl Robinson, the former Wolves and Wales midfielder. The former Birmingham and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor will remain in his role as goalkeeping coach.

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