Wayne Rooney ready to rebuild Derby after dramatic escape from relegation

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Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Alex Pantling /Getty Images
Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Alex Pantling /Getty Images

Wayne Rooney is ready to rebuild Derby County after his dramatic escape from relegation, but has sent a clear warning over the off-field issues which have damaged his start to management.

Rooney insisted there can be “no more messing around” with the bungled takeover, which has proved a huge distraction at the Championship club.

A protracted sale to Bin Zayed International collapsed earlier this year, after nearly a year of talks, while there are serious doubts over Spanish businessman Erik Alonso completing a deal.

Alonso claimed after Derby’s nerve-shredding 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday that supporters can look forward to a “new era”, but the EFL is conducting a thorough investigation into the source of funds.

It is understood Derby will require £30 million cash per season to keep the club running, with current chairman Mel Morris keen to walk away.

There is also a bitter dispute with the EFL over a breach of financial rules, and a legal row with former defender Richard Keogh, which have still to be resolved.

Rooney said: “It’s been frustrating and we need clarity, especially the fans, on what’s going on. We cannot have any more mess-ups, no more messing around.

“It [the takeover] needs to happen quickly because we can’t allow this club to be in the position we’ve been in this season.

“I’m sure it will – we’re in a place where it looks like it’s going that way – but it has to happen quickly.

“I’ve had a lot of work done. My pre-season is done, my [pre-season] fixtures are done - but we need everything to be sorted out from the point of view of people above me to make sure it allows me to do the job to the best of my ability.”

Rooney can finally plan for Championship football after Derby survived by just a point, with Wednesday relegated to League One.

Wednesday produced a battling display but could not secure the win required, while Cardiff’s late equaliser against Rotherham sentenced them to the drop.

They led twice in a day of unbearable drama but Martyn Waghorn’s 78th minute penalty was enough to keep Derby up at Wednesday’s expense.

Dejphon Chansiri, the club’s owner, is under fire from supporters after their season was seriously impacted by the six-point deduction for breaching financial regulations.

Chansiri has no plans to sell up but is facing an exodus of players with many out of contract. Barry Bannan and Josh Windass are likely to be sold after the club’s drop into League One.

"As your owner and chairman, I take full responsibility for everything that happens at our club," Chansiri said in a statement on the club website.

"I am the leader and in good times or bad, the responsibility for Sheffield Wednesday lies with me. I am sorry to you all that we have been relegated."

Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship

Whatever happens next in Wayne Rooney’s managerial career, he will never match the extraordinary, stomach-churning drama of ‘Survival Saturday’.

Derby County avoided relegation from the Championship by just one point, sentencing their opponents Sheffiled Wednesday to the drop, after a chaotic encounter which Rooney will never forget after making the transition to the technical area.

Wednesday have fallen into League One for the first time since 2012, joining Rotherham and Wycombe, after failing to secure the victory at Pride Park they needed to preserve their status. The club’s owner, Dejphon Chansiri, will come under further scrutiny after the six-point deduction which proved insurmountable.

Rooney, and Derby, survive by their fingernails. After his appointment in January, he has secured only one victory from the last 15 matches but this nerve-shredding draw was enough to ensure his fledgling career did not begin with disappointment.

Martyn Waghorn will write his name into Derby’s recent history with the 78th minute penalty which ensured an horrific season, on and off the pitch, had a memorable ending.

Rotherham had led against Cardiff for 80 minutes and would have relegated Derby if they had clung on, but Rooney was left to reflect on a rollercoaster afternoon of emotions.

He said: “I’m very relieved and delighted for the players. That game is the story of our season but the important thing is we’ve stayed in the division.

“This season has been crazy and we need to sort out quickly what’s going on. I’m very confident in my ability to get this club back where it belongs.”

Relegation for Derby would have had serious financial repercussions and there remain off-field issues to sort, including a protracted takeover. There is also a legal dispute with the EFL over a charge of breaching financial rules, which is still to be resolved.

For now, Rooney can concentrate on another year in the second tier. Wednesday, meanwhile, will face the likes of Cheltenham and Cambridge next season.

Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Alex Pantling /Getty Images Europe 
Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Alex Pantling /Getty Images Europe

Their own campaign has been plagued by off-field problems and supporters will undoubtedly point the finger at Chansiri, after starting the season with a 12-point deduction.

That was later reduced to six after an appeal, for breaching financial regulations around the sale of the stadium, but it has proven too big a hurdle to overcome. Players have also gone unpaid for many months, while the club have had three different managers.

The latest incumbent, Darren Moore, was at Pride Park after missing the last four games with pneumonia and blood clots on the lung, after he had contracted Covid-19. Moore inspired his players to a battling performance but nine defeats from the last ten away matches tell its own story.

He said: “I’m proud of the players because despite everything that’s happened they took it to the last day. Without the point deduction we’d be in a far healthier position but we couldn’t quite get it over the line.

“We’ve got to pick ourselves up and go again. There’s so much work ahead and there’s not a minute to waste. We have to map out our own road in getting the club back to where we feel it would be.”

This was always going to be excruciating. Hundreds of Derby fans braved the rain before kick-off to offer their support to the players as they arrived on the team bus, holding a banner with the words “Leave everything on the pitch. It is all we ask”.

With the game only eight minutes old, Rotherham had taken the lead at Cardiff and Waghorn had clattered into a post, requiring treatment. The quality was predictably poor, and Wednesday made the first breakthrough four minutes into stoppage time.

Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Nigel French /PA
Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Nigel French /PA

Callum Paterson’s huge throw-in was inadvertently flicked on by Derby’s Craig Forsyth, with Kelle Roos saving Jordan Rhodes’s header before Sam Hutchinson scrambled the ball over the line.

At that stage, the situation could not have been more severe for Rooney, with Derby failing to win a game since June after conceding the first goal.

Whatever he said at half-time, it worked, with Derby equalising in the 49th minute as Waghorn was in the right place to head Tom Lawrence’s corner past Keiren Westwood.

Within two minutes Derby were ahead, with Manchester City loanee Patrick Roberts sending a wonderful shot into the corner from 20 yards.

It was never going to be simple, though. Wednesday responded admirably and were level in the 63rd minute with Paterson sweeping home after a mistake by Forsyth.

The game was now absorbing, desperate, as both teams abandoned their previous caution. Wednesday claimed a third goal in the 69th minute, capitalising on further Derby hesitancy, with defender Julian Borner flicking the ball in from almost on the goalline. It looked all over for Derby, but then in the space of 60 seconds the relegation battle was turned upside down.

Cardiff equalised at almost exactly the same time Wednesday defender Chey Dunkley fouled substitute Kamil Jozwiak in the penalty area. Waghorn’s penalty was clinical and Derby had turned it around.

The final minutes were unbearable, with Wednesday launching an aerial bombardment, but the fourth goal did not come.

Rooney will never want to go through this again.

Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Alex Pantling /Getty Images
Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Alex Pantling /Getty Images

Derby (4-3-3): Roos; Byrne, Edmundson, Clarke, Forsyth (Buchanan 73); Roberts, Knight (Bird 61), Shinnie (Jozwiak 73); Kazim-Richards, Waghorn (Davies 82), Lawrence.
Subs not used: Marshall (g), Sibley, Cashin, Ebosele, Watson.
Booked: Jozwiak, Kazim-Richards.

Sheff Weds (3-5-2): Westwood; Hutchinson, Dunkley (Harris 87), Borner; Palmer, Bannan, Pelupessy (Green 90), Paterson, Reach; Windass, Rhodes (Kachunga 79).
Subs not used: Wildsmith (g), Brennan, Urhoghide, Dele-Bashiru, Hunt, Shaw.
Booked: Bannan, Dunkley, Kachunga

Referee: Mike Dean (Cheshire)

Warne targets reset after Rotherham's 'marathon' heartache

By James Candy

Paul Warne watched his Rotherham side crumble to relegation with safety in sight, but is now steeling himself for another charge towards the Championship.

After the exhaustion of the brave battle against the drop, Warne initially said he had lost the fight for another League One marathon. But now he believes a few days away from his phone to rest and recover will help the pain fade and have him primed for another shot at the Championship.

“It’s a bit like running a marathon and getting to the 25th mile, only to have someone say, ‘The medals are gone, and they’ve shut up all the drink stations because you’re too slow and you can’t finish it’,” he said. “It felt like we’d done 25 miles of pure hell, it felt like we were going up the Mall towards the finish, I don’t think we could have eclipsed that feeling.

“It would have been the highlight of my career and I could have walked off into the sunset after that. I just wish the lads could have experienced something like that, but unfortunately we were told to step aside at the bottom of the Mall.

“Now I just feel like I need to turn my phone off for a few days and leave my coaches and players alone. I need to try and reset, and be able to build and create another team and culture that can compete.”

Rotherham's survival bid falls just short

By James Candy

Rotherham manager Paul Warne was left a broken man after his side's courageous stand against relegation fell short at the final hurdle.

They were on course for a great escape after Lewis Wing’s thunderous volley propelled them to within touching distance of Championship safety.

While Derby and Sheffield Wednesday went toe to toe in the fight for survival, Warne’s men eventually paid the price for missed chances two minutes from time when Marlon Pack equalised for Cardiff.

“I hope pride will overcome the sadness,” Warne said. “I’m absolutely broken at this moment. We dedicate our lives for 10 months, and right now I can’t see any sunshine. But I’m immensely proud of how far this group has come.

“I feel a bit hollow and devastated for the group. I wanted them to leave the stage like heroes. There will be different people in the changing room next season, but that group of players should be cemented as gods of Rotherham football club. It’s been snatched off us, and it feels so harsh.”

After a tumultuous season in which Rotherham looked down and out, it seemed as though things were finally going their way on a chaotic final day in the Championship.

Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Nick Potts /PA
Derby survive after late Martyn Waghorn penalty keeps Wayne Rooney's men in the Championship - Nick Potts /PA

They were given the perfect start by a stunning volley from Wing after just eight minutes. Wes Harding’s cross was headed away from the Cardiff box by Perry Ng, but Wing unleashed a fierce strike from 25 yards out that goalkeeper Dillon Phillips barely saw before it hit the back of the net.

Rotherham captain Richard Wood headed wide from a corner before Matt Crooks sliced a shot wide after meeting a cross from strike partner Michael Smith. Angus MacDonald also had a shot cleared off the line.

Cardiff came out fired up for the second half. Kieffer Moore put an effort over the crossbar three minutes into the second period before being denied by some heroic defending from Wood.

Smith pushed to make it 2-0 when he forced Phillips into a save from a tight angle, but Rotherham’s efforts looked as if they were paling into insignificance when Patrick Roberts put Derby ahead.

But the directors’ box went wild when Callum Paterson equalised for Wednesday to put Rotherham back in the driving seat.

However, the hosts marched forward and found Pack with the space to launch a low strike into the bottom corner, meaning Rotherham’s great grind for survival against all the odds fell short.

“I think, overall, 10 wins, nine draws, three defeats is an excellent return,” said Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy on his tenure since joining in January.

“The lads have been brilliant. From where we were – had we lost at Bristol City we would have gone fourth bottom that day, and we might have been in this sort of situation like Rotherham.”

Cardiff City (3-4-3): Phillips; Pack, Flint, Nelson; Ng, Bacuna (Williams 59), Ralls, Brown; Wilson (Ojo 77), Colwill (Harris 46), Moore (Murphy 59 (Bamba 90+5)).
Subs not used: Smithies (g), Tomlin, Evans, Bowen.
Booked: Ralls.

Rotherham United (4-4-2): Blackman; Ihiekwe (Ladapo 90+1), A MacDonald, Wood, Harding; Jozefzoon (Lindsay 62), Wiles (Mattock 87), Wing (Ogbene 90+1), Giles; Crooks, Smith.
Subs not used: Johansson (g), S MacDonald, Sadlier, Olosunde, Barlaser
Booked: Wiles

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)

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