Rooney poised to take first managerial job as Derby sack Cocu

Wayne Rooney is poised to take his first managerial job as Derby County SACK boss Phillip Cocu after disastrous start to the season… with Rams rock bottom of the Championship

  • Derby have had a terrible start to the season sitting bottom of the Championship
  • Wayne Rooney is seen as a likely successor to take over the managerial vacancy
  • Rooney confirmed he will help Derby prepare for their upcoming matches 
  • Cocu has been with the club since July 2019 when he replaced Frank Lampard

Derby County have sacked manager Phillip Cocu following a disastrous start to the season.

A club statement on Saturday afternoon confirmed the club have parted ways with the Dutchman via mutual agreement. 

It adds that assistant manager Chris van der Weerden and Specialist First Team Coach Twan Scheepers have also left the club.

Phillip Cocu has been sacked by Derby after a poor start sitting bottom of the Championship

The club announced the departure of Cocu and two of his staff in a club statement online

It has been a miserable start to the season with their last game being a 2-0 defeat to Barnsley

Current star Wayne Rooney is seen as someone who could potentially take over the vacancy

The 50-year-old was appointed as manager in July 2019, replacing Frank Lampard who went to take over the reigns at Chelsea.

However Cocu’s stint as manager of the club has not gone well with a record of 18 wins, 16 draws and 23 defeats, with 67 goals scored and 80 conceded. 

Wayne Rooney is seen as a likely candidate to take over the vacancy in a player-manager capacity.

Former England captain Rooney joined the Rams in January as the 35-year-old looked to take his first steps into coaching while also continuing his playing carer.

Following Cocu’s departure, the ex-Everton and Manchester United forward confirmed he had been asked to help the Derby squad prepare for their next Championship fixture following the international break.

‘I am sorry that Phillip and his staff have left the club and want to thank him personally for all his help and encouragement as part of his coaching staff,’ Rooney said in a statement.

‘The most important thing now is to stabilise the club and start moving up the table. I have been asked to be part of the coaching staff to help the team’s preparations for next Saturday’s vital match against Bristol City.

‘The coaches and I will speak with the players on Monday.’

Rooney has confirmed that he has been asked to help prepare Derby for their next games

Rooney has been playing a waiting game since he joined Derby on an 18-month contract as player-coach last year, a complex deal which, as Sportsmail revealed last November, involved him being groomed as a successor to now former Rams manager Cocu.

The 34-year-old has yet to complete his UEFA coaching badges so will need back-up from experienced coaches if he is appointed.

Liam Rosenior, the former Brighton defender, has made a positive impact since joining the coaching staff last year and already has his UEFA Pro Licence but Rooney is understood to be considering bringing in outside help.

His former Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher is due to finish his coaching badges imminently and is a close confidant, while Rooney’s former coaches at Old Trafford Steve McClaren and Mike Phelan have also been sounded out. Such is Rooney’s confidence at eventually getting the manager’s job that he was even discussing potential coaching options with senior team-mates.  

Darren Fletcher is a close confidant and could be asked to help out Rooney at Derby

Liam Rosenior is highly regarded at Derby and could also be part of Rooney’s backroom staff

Rosenior is sufficiently well regarded at Derby to be seen as a potential caretaker manager himself and could yet be asked to join Rooney’s staff.

Derby’s form has not been good enough in recent times and it is in fact their worst start to a season since their nightmare Premier League campaign in 2007-08, and the prospect of playing third-tier football for the first time since 1985-86 will become very real unless there is a dramatic upturn in fortunes.

The Rams have won just one of their first 11 league matches this season and lost their last league game 2-0 at home to Barnsley.

Their always hands-on chairman Mel Morris had increased his demands of Cocu in recent weeks — summoning him to breakfast meetings, asking for written reports of matches and planned training sessions — leading to speculation that the chairman was seeking to pressure him into walking away. 

Cocu was unable to attend what was his final game as manager of the club against Barnsley as he was forced to self isolate after CEO Stephen Pearce tested positive for Covid-19 just days after the two had a meeting.  

Despite self-isolating, Cocu picked the team and was in constant communication with his coaches as he watched this defeat unfold on a television feed.

Cocu is currently self-isolating after a meeting with Stephen Pearce (right) who tested positive for Covid

The club are also set to be taken over after the Football League gave the green light for Derby’s proposed £60million sale to Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan – despite the prospective buyer’s links to Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and the owner of Manchester City.

The issue was discussed in detail at an EFL board meeting earlier this month with no objections raised to the sale, subject to Zayed Al Nehayan agreeing some finer points of the deal with Derby owner Mel Morris.

Zayed Al Nehayan is a senior member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and cousin of City owner Sheik Mansour but, despite the potential for conflict of interest, the EFL decided not to block the sale.

With the impending takeover and Derby’s poor form on the field, it was seen as only a matter of time before Cocu was shown the exit door at Pride Park. 

The Rams are in the early stages of a takeover after chairman Mel Morris agreed a deal

The club statement by Derby said:  ‘The club would like to place on record its appreciation for the way Phillip and his staff conducted themselves in what were some extremely challenging situations during his tenure.

‘Phillip and his staff helped develop and establish a considerable number of Academy players in to the first team squad and Phillip made significant financial contributions and personal efforts towards the club’s community projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the club are extremely grateful for.

‘Derby County wishes to thank Phillip, Chris and Twan for their hard work and dedication over the last 16 months and wish them every success in their future careers.’

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