High drama on the final day of the Championship season has seen Derby County safe from relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in 35 years as Wayne Rooney’s team finally showed some grit and determination just when it mattered the most.
Final Day Results See Derby County Safe
Great Players Don’t Always Make Great Managers
Rooney was some capture for Derby as a player but as a manager he has shown that he needs to learn a lot more about the coaching side of the game as he has presided over a nearly disastrous season for the one time league champions.
Rooney scored a fabulous free kick against Norwich City earlier in the 2020/21 season that proved to the clubs only win in the first 13 games leaving them bottom and already looking at a long and arduous season.
When Rooney then took the reigns in a management role in which he was under prepared and under trained for, he cannot have envisaged being in for such a tortuous ride. No fans, missing key players such as Krystian Bielik who joined from Arsenal and his own retirement as a player have meant this was always going to be an uphill battle requiring an experienced head.
16 Games of Rapid Decline
There was an initial new manager bounce for Rooney but in the past 16 games they had 11 defeats and conceded 25 goals- revealing a side unable to find the net often enough and leaking goals at a time when goal difference is worth three points in itself. A great goal scorer in his playing days has found watching from the sidelines a conundrum he has been unable to solve for the majority of his time in charge.
Off Field Issues Have Not Helped
Whilst Rooney has to carry the can for the poor results and performances, he has not been helped by a number of distractions off the pitch.
Derby have been trying to get back to the Premier League for a number of years and they have thrown money at it season after season and that has been spending of money that the club didn’t ultimately have at their disposal.
Owner Mel Morris, famed for the creation of mobile gaming sensation ‘Candy Crush’ has reached the end of the road and has been desperate to sell the club but every time a takeover seems to be close it never crosses the line much like the team on the pitch.
The highest profile takeover attempt was by Sheikh Khaled who is part of Abu Dhabi royalty and whilst the deal seemed to be heading for being a welcome Christmas present for Derby, it ended with players not being paid and anger mounted among the fans and the players and the results started to worsen.
Erik Alonso is now on the verge of taking over the club but any deal has yet to be ratified by the EFL after a month- suggesting that things are not looking good and it looks yet again like another takeover could be foiled, leaving the club in financial limbo. Staying in the Championship eases those worries for now at least.
Mel Morris wants out but he just cannot get out and the uncertainty and frustration can only have harmed the players and coaching team throughout the season.
Draw Enough to Keep Derby County Safe
A dramatic second half at Pride Park saw Derby take a 2-1 lead before Sheffield Wednesday, also fighting for their lives, took a 3-2 lead and, with Rotherham winning in Cardiff, it was the Millers who were staying up and both Derby and Wednesday heading for League One. Rotherham were finally relegated after Cardiff City held them to a draw and, as it ended 3-3 at Derby, it was Rooney and his side who remained in the Championship for another season.
Whether Rooney will be the manager to lead the club next season remains to be seen but there can be no doubt that he will have learned that great players cannot just jump into management and find success.
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