Wayne Rooney says he is ready to put the hard yards in to ensure he moves Derby County forward as a football club.
Rooney, 35, has taken over as Derby’s manager on a permanent basis on a two-and-a-half-year deal until the summer of 2023.
The news was confirmed on Friday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s home fixture against Rotherham United at Pride Park Stadium (3pm kick-off).
In taking up the position, after a brief period in interim charge between the end of November and mid-January during which time he recorded three wins and four draws from nine matches, he has brought the curtain down on his illustrious playing career.
England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer joined Derby in a player-coach capacity in January 2020, but he is now able to take his first steps into management.
Rooney says he is delighted to be handed the role on a permanent basis and determined to give the role it his all and guide the Rams up the Sky Bet Championship table.
He hopes his appointment, which will see him assisted by Liam Rosenior, Shay Given, Justin Walker and Jason Pearcey, will provide clarity for the players and staff at an important time.
With his focus firmly on a positive future, he is confident there is plenty of potential to work with at the club in both the short and long-term.
“It is something which I have been discussing with the club and I feel the last six to eight weeks have gone well in terms of how we are working and I am ready,” Rooney told RamsTV.
“I am ready to put the work in and try and get this club moving forward again. For the last six months it has been difficult for everyone at the club, not just players but also the staff at the club and the fans as well. It is positive news and I feel I can help this club move forward.
“It is great that it is over the line and it is done and confirmed. I am excited and I think it is good for the players and staff at the training ground to know exactly who they need to go to if they have any issues and give them that clarity.
“For us as a staff, it gives us a chance to put our plans in place, not just game by game, but now moving forward to put our plans in place for where we see us in four or eight weeks’ time and how we want to develop as a team.
“In any walk of life, in any business – if you are taking on a manager’s role, of course you are going to have questions which you want answering. I have had the answers from the club and the assurances that I was happy with and for me now it is time to get my head down and focus on how we move forward as a team.
“Where do we want to be? What’s our ambition? What do we think is realistic? I think first and foremost we need to look at our ambitions for the season and where, realistically, can we finish the season. That is all things I will speak to the staff over and speak to the players as well to see what their ambitions are too.”
He added: “I am fairly pleased with the job I have done up until now, but I think we can all get better. I think the potential we have got in the team is better than what we are showing.
“We can get more wins, more points on the board and I feel that we are moving towards that. We are developing nicely as a team, we are starting to get an understanding in the team and a settled team – which I think is important as well.”
Rooney’s professional career saw him rack up more than 700 appearances in club football and several major honours.
While he admits he will miss playing the game he loves, he is relishing the latest chapter in his career.
“I will miss playing, of course,” Rooney said.
“But I can now get excited about the future and my role as a manager.”
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, professional football is continuing to be played behind-closed-doors right across the world.
Rooney admits he’s disappointed Derby’s supporters can’t be at stadiums right now to see the progress of his side.
However, he hopes that whilst they are watching from afar they can see Derby are moving in the right direction.
“It is a shame that the fans are not in the stadium watching this team develop because we have got a good blend of some experience players and some very talented young players,” he said.
“I feel I can improve a lot of those young players. It will take time with them and I know they won’t be coming in, starting every game and we aren’t going to be relying on them young players or put too much pressure on them.
“I think there is a good blend and it is exciting times. The players are playing with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity and a lot of fight. All those players are fighting every day in training.”
He concluded: “I have made it clear that if you train well then you will be in my thoughts, if you don’t and your attitude isn’t right then you won’t be in the squad. The players know that and it has brought the level of training up and the players have to be on their toes.”