‘A lot of basic errors are costing us’ - Rooney demands improvement from Derby against City
- Credit: PA
England’s record goal-scorer is in Norfolk this weekend but Wayne Rooney hasn’t been able to prevent Derby making a bad start to the Championship season.
The five-time Premier League champion scored over 250 goals and made more than 500 appearances for Manchester United before enjoying two years in the MLS, still managing 25 goals in 52 games for US side DC United as he seemingly started to wind down his playing days.
However, the man who broke Bobby Charlton’s long-standing England record with 53 goals from 120 international matches, returned home and signed for the Rams in January.
Immediately taking the captain’s armband, Rooney scored six goals in 24 matches while playing in midfield during the second half of last season but a bad end to the campaign saw Derby fall away from play-off contention, eventually finishing 10th and six points adrift of the top six.
That made for a disappointing first season in charge for legendary former Barcelona and Holland midfielder Phillip Cocu, who came in after Frank Lampard had joined Chelsea after the disappointment of play-off final defeat to Aston Villa in 2019.
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That slide has continued into this season, making it eight defeats from the last 10 games overall.
After scraping past Football League new boys Barrow on penalties in the League Cup first round, after a 0-0 home draw, the league season started with a 2-0 home defeat to Reading - with Rooney featuring as a substitute.
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The former England skipper has started the last three games though, losing 2-1 at Luton, 2-1 at home to Preston in the League Cup second round and a 4-0 home thrashing at the hands of Blackburn on Saturday.
That was a result which saw Rooney admit the Rams had problems, with the 34-year-old also part of Cocu’s coaching staff as he studies for his badges.
“I can’t make any excuses; it wasn’t good enough and all I can say is we will work hard to put it right,” he said of the heavy defeat to Blackburn.
“I am not going to stand here and say we will win the next three, four or five games, but we are working hard to get better.
“We will take the work we do this week into the Norwich game next Saturday and try to get a positive result. That is all I can say, I am not making any excuses for today and it hurt all of us.
“Right now as we stand here, it isn’t a great feeling for any of us.”
Rooney has won six of his eight games against the Canaries over the years, scoring three goals - all of them during two 4-0 Premier League wins at Old Trafford.
He endured a forgettable Carrow Road debut as a 19-year-old though, coming on at half-time of a famous 2-0 win for City in April 2005. Within eight minutes he was booked for a poor tackle on Thomas Helveg, from which David Bentley swung a free-kick into the box from the right wing and Dean Ashton headed Norwich in front.
Then he was robbed by Youssef Safri in the 65th minute after trying to turn on the ball, leading to Darren Huckerby playing Ashton clean through and a cross from the left being slotted home on the volley by his strike partner Leon McKenzie to seal a memorable upset.
Rooney’s only other defeat was when the Canaries won 2-1 at Old Trafford in December 2015 thanks to Alex Tettey’s toe poke, having missed the 1-0 defeat at Carrow Road in November 2012, when it was Anthony Pilkington’s header sealing the success.
Now he’s trying to continue enjoying his playing days with Derby, who are trying to play positive football, averaging the most possession in the division so far on 58.1 percent, with Norwich ranked third with 54.5pc so far.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, of those who have played at least 180 minutes so far, only four players average better than Rooney’s pass success percentage of 88pc.
“I think anyone who watched the game could see that we had a spell where it looked like there was a bit of confusion,” he continued, while reviewing that defeat to Blackburn.
“We were all over the place and we conceded three goals. We managed to create a couple of chances after that, which was surprising because having a blow like that when you concede three goals that quick is tough to take.
“I can’t stand here and say ‘we did this’ and ‘we did that’. We lost 4-0 and it was not good enough. We all have to improve; we have to improve on a few things in terms of how we are during the game and I think a lot of basic errors are costing us that we need to cut out.”
Rooney has spoken about his managerial ambitions in the past. If his rallying call doesn’t get a reaction, he could well find himself replacing Cocu soon.