Mick the Ram
2 months ago

Mick the Ram
2 months ago

Wayne Rooney sacked as Birmingham City manager after only 83 days in charge

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by Mick the Ram

 

World famous footballer turned manager, Wayne Rooney, has been sacked from his position in charge of Birmingham City Football Club, after just 83 days at the helm.

He was appointed amid huge publicity on 11 October 2023, with the team sitting in a healthy sixth place in the Championship table and looking a good bet to mount a serious challenge for promotion to the Premier League.

Just fifteen matches later and the position had deteriorated alarmingly. The side had plummeted to the edge of the relegation zone, after winning only two of the matches that Rooney oversaw.

The 38-year-old former England captain’s time ran out after a comprehensive New Year’s Day defeat to Leeds United and early on Tuesday 2 January he was given the bad news by CEO Garry Cook, who in a statement said they felt “the time was right to move in a different direction”.

Mr Cook acted on behalf of the American ownership group – Shelby Companies Limited, who had wanted a major name in the game to take their recent acquisition forward, and satisfy their lofty ambitions for the club.

The former Derby County and DC United boss said in his own statement that “’It will take time to get over this setback” and hinted that he now plans to take a break from the game.

Demand for exciting football

The decision to relieve Rooney of his duties so early in his tenure is something of a surprise, but not a complete shock. When the US led consortium completed their takeover of the club in July 2023, with NFL legend Tom Brady part of the group, it was accompanied with a promise of “more exciting football”.

That in itself probably was warning enough to the then manager John Eustace, with it obvious from the start that he did not have the big personality the new owners were craving.

Pressure from the start

Rooney then arrived with a huge fanfare and the chief executive committing to “no fear football”, but that alone brought immediate pressure to the former legend of the pitch, because under Eustace the brand of football had been more defensive, albeit with a good deal of success.

Hand forced

From the start Rooney was counting down the days to the start of the January transfer window, when he hoped to bring in the players he believed could execute his footballing beliefs.

Sadly nine defeats out of fifteen forced the board’s hand and they have acted at the very start of the month to enable a replacement to have enough time to work on their own new signings.

Below expectations

A club statement formally announced the departure of Rooney, along with his first team coach, Carl Robinson.

It said: “Despite their best efforts, results have not met the expectations that were made clear at the outset. Therefore, the board feels that a change in management is in the best interests of the football club.”

It went on to say that the club’s board and management were fully aligned and would continue to “drive transformation” and take bold steps to rebuild Birmingham City into the “organisation its fans and community deserve”.

They also placed on record their “sincere thanks to Wayne and Carl for all of their efforts.”

Search already begun for successor

CEO Mr Cook added: “Unfortunately, Wayne’s time with us did not go as planned and we have decided to move in a different direction. The search for a successor begins with immediate effect and we will update supporters when we have further news.”

Derby experience boosted reputation

Rooney had gained a lot of plaudits for the way in which he handled a near impossible situation at Derby County, who were – unjustly in many people’s eyes – docked a ridiculous 21 points after falling into administration and being found guilty of financial irregularities.

They bravely fought right to the end of the 2021/22 season and were only relegated after some questionable officiating decisions and a lot of misfortune in the closing month, or so.

Mutual consent

He made the decision to leave during that summer and took up a position as head coach at MLS side DC United, but left by mutual consent in October 2023 after they failed to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs.

He naturally believed he should have been given more time, and in many ways he is fully justified in the stance.

Dismissal taken with good grace

Upon hearing the news, Rooney said: “Time is the most precious commodity a manager requires and I do not believe 13 weeks was sufficient to oversee the changes that were needed.”

He went on to thank the board for the opportunity, before acknowledging that football is a results business and recognising that they had not been at the level he expected them to be.

Break from football

Closing his departure statement, Rooney admitted: “Personally, it will take me some time to get over this setback. I have been involved in professional football, as either a player or manager, since I was 16, so now I plan to take some time with my family, as I prepare for the next opportunity in my journey as a manager.”

Unclear what’s next

The club’s Professional Development coach, Steve Spooner has been placed in interim charge, awaiting the appointment of a new manager.

Wayne Rooney’s long-term future in management right now is very much unclear.

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