‘This is a big club, it WILL bounce back’: Statesman Wayne Rooney ready to take on the toughest challenge of his career as he seeks to steer Derby through ‘devastating’ administration process
- Wayne Rooney is ready to help Derby through its torrid administration process
- England’s record goal-scorer said the crisis is ‘devastating’ for the club staff
- But he added that Derby is ‘a big club’ that can ‘bounce back’ from the turmoil
- Derby are still fighting a second charge relating to breaches of spending rules
In times of crisis, people look for leadership. As Derby County head for administration and those responsible are nowhere to be seen, they need England’s record goalscorer to guide them through one of the darkest moments in their history — and Wayne Rooney has made an impressive start to the toughest challenge of his career.
For much of the last two decades, Rooney has started the week looking forward to playing for Manchester United in the Champions League.
After guiding Derby to a 2-1 win over Stoke on Saturday, he is now anticipating meetings with administrators and discussions with staff members who fear for their livelihoods. He has not heard from owner Mel Morris for some time.
Manager Wayne Rooney has said Derby can ‘bounce back’ from going into administration
‘With what I’m expecting to happen to some of the staff, it’s devastating,’ said Rooney. ‘Because they’re good people who work very hard for this club. Hopefully we can get new investors in as soon as possible and try to get some stability.
‘It’s a plus that administration has happened now and not in January. We’ve got a few months now to try to get some investors in. If we get to January, the administrators can sell my players and there’s nothing I can do about it. That will be very difficult, a hard one to take.
‘This is a big club. It will bounce back. So we have to be strong, we have to be resilient, and stick together.
‘I wouldn’t forgive myself if I walked out, because I’m asking the players to sacrifice a lot, and give everything. So for me to leave them in the lurch and walk out, that’s just not in my nature.’
Despite all the turmoil, Rooney helped guide Derby to a 2-1 win over Stoke on Saturday
Derby are still fighting a second charge with the EFL, relating to breaches of spending rules, that could bring a further nine-point penalty. The threat of a two-year transfer embargo also hangs over them.
This weekend Rooney displayed a side to his personality that few have seen in public. He spoke from the heart, in contrast to the clunky, insensitive language used by the club’s directors in their statement on Friday, announcing Derby would go into administration.
Rooney revealed that when he spoke to the players before the Stoke match, he emphasised the date — September 18, 2021 — hoping it would prove a turning point in the history of the club.
It clearly worked, as the Rams produced their best performance of the season. First-half goals from Max Bird and Curtis Davies sealed it, with Tom Ince replying for Stoke in the second half.
Rooney said he couldn’t ‘walk out’ on Derby because he’s asking his players to ‘sacrifice a lot’
‘The most important people are the people I work closely with at the club, and the players; my job is to do everything I can to make sure they come into work happy. Obviously at the minute they’re not.
‘So for them to put that aside and give that performance, they deserve a lot of credit and I know the fans will be proud of the team.
‘This club has had great moments in the past. But I put the date up on the wall at the end of the team meeting, and I said to the players, ‘Today could be a big day in the club’s history, and it’s on you to decide how the fans look back on this day’. I think the fans will look back and realise what a huge effort the players gave.’
Former striker Rooney has not heard from Derby owner Mel Morris (above) for some time now