Wayne Rooney RETURNS to English football after he is confirmed as the new boss of Birmingham City… with the Man United legend set to link up with Tom Brady after the club’s owners sacked John Eustace
- Wayne Rooney has been confirmed as the new manager of Birmingham City
- His return to English football comes after the club’s sacking of John Eustace
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Wayne Rooney on Wednesday made a dramatic return to English football as he was named manager of Championship club Birmingham on a three-and-a-half year contract.
The former England captain will be joined by his former international team-mate Ashley Cole as well as John O’Shea, who spent seven years with Rooney at Manchester United. Maik Taylor will remain at the club as Goalkeeper Coach.
Rooney replaces John Eustace, who was controversially sacked by Blues on Monday despite winning his final two games to leave Birmingham – who are co-owned by NFL great Tom Brady – sixth in the Championship heading into the international break.
Rooney said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be joining Birmingham City Football Club at such an exciting time. It is very clear that they have a plan and are committed to realising their ambition for the club. We are fully aligned on what is expected.
‘I have been building my managerial career, putting myself in challenging environments, to get me ready for this opportunity. It’s a project that gives me a sense of purpose and I can’t wait to get started.’
Wayne Rooney has been confirmed as the new boss of Championship side Birmingham City
It comes after Birmingham’s owners sacked John Eustance on Monday (left to right – chairman Tom Wagner, CEO Garry Cook, co-owner Tom Brady and director Matt Alvarez)
Eustace was sacked despite Birmingham’s bright start with the club sixth in the standings
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He added: ‘We have some exciting young players in the squad, and some who are still to break through into the first team, alongside a core of experienced senior professionals.
‘I have a clear way that I want the team to play, and my coaching staff and I will work hard to implement it. We will create a winning culture here with an identity that gets Blues fans on their feet.
‘I’ve played at St. Andrew’s and Birmingham City fans were always loud and passionate about their team. It was a really difficult place to come as an opponent and now I get to experience what it is like to have them behind us.
‘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.’
The 37-year-old left US club DC United last weekend and had been under consideration by Birmingham ever since American group Knighthead took control over the summer.
Rooney has experience of managing in English football thanks to a spell with crisis-torn Derby in 2020-21.
The Rams spent time in administration and were relegated from the Championship due to a 21-point penalty for financial breaches, though Rooney earned credit for the way he helped keep the ship afloat.
The decision to dismiss Eustace was unpopular with a number of Blues fans, with chief executive Garry Cook claiming there had been a lack of ‘alignment’ between manager and board.
Rooney announced his DC United departure on Sunday after they failed to qualify for the play-offs
On the appointment of Rooney, Birmingham City co-owner and chairman of the Board, Tom Wagner said: ‘Wayne is a born winner. We believe, with the support of his coaching staff, the club, and our supporters, he will take Blues forward on the next stage of our journey. His playing philosophy will help to realise the ambitions we have set for Birmingham City.
‘Wayne has been preparing for an opportunity like this since he embarked on his coaching education whilst still a player at Manchester United.
‘He and his staff have the full support of the Board and everyone at the football club.’
Rooney inherits a team in a healthy position though there are complications. Eustace was working with a reduced wage bill while the club are still training at a temporary base while Wast Hills, their main training ground a short distance from the city centre, is restored after a fire in March.
Work continues to improve St Andrew’s but the ground cannot open at full capacity until late November at the earliest.
And while Rooney will be backed in January where possible, Financial Fair Play rules mean Birmingham – like the majority of Championship clubs – have limited room for manoeuvre in the transfer market.
In an open letter to fans, Cook wrote: ‘The Owners and Board Members are ambitious. They are driven to help make Birmingham City a football powerhouse.
‘Creating a winning culture in an organisation that has been on its back foot for a number of years is not easy. My executive team are aware that we are aspiring to be world-class, but it takes more than words.
‘Birmingham City Football Club needs world-class professionals across every department, to enhance our performance on and off the pitch. Experienced people who know how to be successful and are driven by winning. We are not going to stop identifying and adding such talent to help us realise our ambition.’
Birmingham have now confirmed his appointment, which will see him link up with NFL legend Tom Brady – who invested in the West Midlands-based club back in August.
After signing off with a 2-0 victory over New York City on Saturday night, Rooney told reporters he would not be renewing his contract – with the club confirming his departure a day later.
Talking about his decision to leave, Rooney said: ‘I think it’s just the right time. I’ve done everything I can to try and get the club into the playoffs.
‘It’s not been a single thing which has happened. It’s about timing in your career. I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve had a lot of great help from the owners… I just feel like it’s the right time for me to back to England, first to obviously see my family. I haven’t seen them for a long time.
‘And then, what lies ahead? Whether opportunities come up? I’ve seen a lot of reports in the media. I don’t have anything lined up. I’m going back there to see my family. If something comes up in October, November, of course I’ll look at it.’
He replaces Eustace who had been at St Andrew’s for just over a year, and had helped push Birmingham up the table in that time.
Birmingham City sit sixth in the standings following their 3-1 win over West Brom on Friday
Birmingham had finished just two places above the relegation zone in 20th in 2021-22, before Eustace joined that summer.
Last season they finished 17th on 53 points – the most the have achieved across a season since 2016-17.
Under his guidance, they had taken 18 points out of their opening 11 games this season, and were sitting just inside the play-off positions.
Cook met Eustace on Sunday morning to inform him that his 15-month tenure was over before the club released a statement to confirm their decision.
Their statement on his departure concluded: ‘A new first-team manager will be announced in the coming days who will be responsible for creating an identity and clear ‘no fear’ playing style that all Birmingham City teams will adopt and embrace.’
Birmingham fans were left unhappy over the club’s treatment of Eustace following his dismissal.
One fan wrote: ‘I’ll get behind (Rooney) and the team! But this feels like such a terrible decision!’
Another user posted. ‘Eustace felt like a great fit, seemed to have the players on side, had us playing decent football! Was a steadying influence… let’s hope this isn’t (Gianfrano) Zola 2.0 ‘Sorry to see JE go!!!’
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