Leeds United’s Championship play-off rivals confirm arrival of ex-Man Utd and Everton star after shock sacking

Birmingham City have confirmed their next managerial appointment after the surprise decision to part company with John Eustace
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Leeds United’s Championship play-off rivals Birmingham City have appointed ex-Manchester United and Everton player Wayne Rooney as their new manager on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

The Blues parted ways with John Eustace earlier this week in a surprise move after the 43-year-old had guided the club to sixth in the Championship after 11 games, with one of those matches included a 1-0 home win over Leeds.

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Rooney left his role as head coach of Major League Soccer side D.C. United on Sunday after the club failed to reach the competition’s play-offs despite a 2-0 win over New York City FC in which ex-Leeds favourite Mateusz Klich netted.

Rooney commented of his arrival: “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.

“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.”

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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.”

Birmingham City chief executive officer, Garry Cook, said: “We are incredibly excited by Wayne’s arrival. When the opportunity presents itself to appoint a manager who shares your ambition and is both a student and a great of the game, then you act. This is what we have done.

“We are confident that his appointment, supported by his hand-picked coaching staff, will culminate in a young, attack-minded team that will excite our fans. The timing of the appointment will allow Wayne to evaluate the playing staff and work with Craig Gardner on the squad’s recruitment needs ahead of the January and Summer transfer windows. This is a defining moment for the Football Club.”

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Rooney moved into management with Derby County in January 2021 and steered the Rams to safety but a 21-point deduction the following season saw the club relegated as he resigned form his position in June 2022 before moving to D.C. United, where he spent time as a player.

He is best known for his spells with Everton and Manchester United, playing a key role under Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford between 2004 and 2013. He left the Red Devils in 2017 and is the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.