Wayne Rooney’s return to England is already in jeopardy.
“Rooney’s disappointing start at Birmingham City has prompted fans to suggest a career change,” The Sun reported on Sept. 9 (KST). In October, Birmingham was in fifth place in the English Football League Championship (EFL Championship, second division), but under Rooney’s leadership, the club has slipped to 16th place with just one win in nine games. Fans were furious, with some suggesting Rooney should quit his coaching career.”
According to the outlet, fans said, “Someone like Rooney should be a professional. He lacks all the ingredients to be a successful coach and is underperforming,” “He is literally tarnishing his legacy as a player at Manchester United. Someone needs to advise him,” and “He needs to be a professional like every other English player,” among other critical comments.
The news came as a surprise to Birmingham in October. “The board and management have decided to part ways with head coach John Eustace,” Birmingham said in a statement. We thank John Eustace for his contribution since his appointment in July last year. The club will announce a new manager in the coming days who will build on our fearless style of play.” It was a somewhat surprising choice. Last season, Birmingham finished as low as 17th and faced relegation to League One (third tier). The new season, under Eustace, Birmingham has been transformed, leaping to fifth place, a playoff spot.
Birmingham’s trump card was Rooney, who had parted ways with DC United in the US Major League Soccer (MLS). As a player, Rooney was a Premier League (PL) legend with United. He won tons of trophies during his 13-year career from 2004 to 2017. He won the league title five times and scored 208 goals in his career with United. Rooney then went on to play for Everton and DC United before hanging up his cleats at Derby County.
Rooney’s post-retirement coaching career has taken him from acting manager of Derby County to full-time manager, and last year he was hired by DC United. Rooney returned to England after a stint in the United States. Birmingham were relegated from the PL in 2010-11 and have been in the second tier for 13 seasons. Rooney was tasked with achieving the goal of promotion.
However, since taking over from Eustace, Rooney has won one, drawn two, and lost six of his nine games in charge. Birmingham have also fallen to the bottom of the table. Once again, the sports formula that a great player cannot be a great coach is proving to be true.