No Rooney turn; All roads lead to Derby
Background image: Unknown author / CC BY 2.5
If it isn’t the man Premier League fans love to hate. Wayne Rooney, having left English football last summer to join MLS, has agreed his next destination once contract terminates at DC United. Do not adjust your monitor; pause, have some water. The Manchester United legend is going to Derby County.
The move is set for January. Rooney will become Derby's player/coach. For many, the East Midlands city is one they won't have visited. Come 2020, there's a huge incentive to do so. They'll get to witness England's all-time top scorer strutting his stuff at Pride Park.
Rooney has important business in the United States before then. In the 12-team Eastern Conference, the top seven sides qualify for the post-season knockout tournament. That's known as the MLS Cup. DC United currently sit fifth in said table.
Last campaign, Rooney scored 12 goals in 21 appearances. This time out, he's on 11 goals after 21 games.
With nine matches left, DC United have a four-point cushion over eighth-place Toronto FC. They should make it. In fact, any MLS team boasting Rooney would be expected to advance.
The way in which Wazza has performed makes him more than a snazzy designated player. He's revered in MLS. He'll be remembered as the force which drove the division's worst team beyond their limits.
Rooney has recently gone on record to thank DC's followers, asking for their continued support. In turn, he'll do his utmost to win them the title. Lurking in his mind, though, there's an image of a golden jet flying him to East Midlands airport. A new journey awaits at Derby.
Rooney has an 18-month contract with the Rams. That gives him time to sculpt the team into his own goal-scoring image. There's another big reason he's opted for the championship side. Each passing day bodies age. The 33-year-old is no exception. He realises this himself. In his own words, ''I'm planning for the next stage.'' Taking the dual-role position is clearly his first step into management.
In an exhaustive 46-game season, Rooney will help regarding rotation, simultaneously allowing him to cut his teeth in a coaching capacity.
Derby belong in the Championship’s top echelon. They've made the playoffs four times in the last seven seasons. On the three occasions they missed out, a top-ten finish was secured. To achieve such consistency is incredible. Even more so considering their high manager turnover. Phillip Cocu is the latest man in charge. He'll hope Rooney can fire in the goals to earn Premier League promotion come May. It's been 12 years since Rams fans experienced that feeling.
Comparing statistical data, the transition from DC United to Derby may not be as troubling as anticipated. Overall, the two leagues post very similar numbers in shots per game, tackles as well as fouls. Using 2018 data, DC score 1.8 goals per game while Derby muster 1.5. If anything, the Rams should make it easier for Rooney. They have more key passes per match and shots on goal.
The biggest difference is perhaps the inversion of home kit colours, from DC's black to Derby's white.