The Rams were relegated to the Championship in April but Rooney and his squad can hold their heads high as they nearly defied to odds to secure survival despite a 21-point deduction and constant off-field issues.
A number of second-flight jobs look likely to be available at the end of the 2021/22 campaign and the former England captain may well be high on some clubs’ list of targets but he has made it clear he will be at Pride Park next season.
Speaking at the East Midlands club’s End of Season Awards night yesterday, Rooney made his stance on his future as clear as it could be.
He said (via Derbyshire Live): “We have overcome all the obstacles which have been placed in front of us. We didn’t manage to do it in the end, but I am so proud – so proud of the players, the staff.
“I am extremely proud of what we have tried to achieve. We will get better, we will get stronger, we will come back, and I am looking forward to it.
“100% I will be here, and my staff will be here. I know with the players there are certain things we need to deal with, but they all want to stay.
“It is a pleasure to be at this football club and we go again next season, and hopefully get back up.
“The support this season has been incredible, it has pushed us on, and we have loved it. We have loved the challenge.”
The rebuild at Derby will not be a fast or an easy process but it does now seem as though the ownership situation is set to be sorted soon as American businessman Chris Kirchner told supporters via Twitter last night that the takeover deal was “almost done”.
It has been suggested on a number of occasions both by Rooney and Kirchner that the Derby manager will remain in charge for next season but this is the strongest claim he’s made on his future yet.
Keeping him and his staff at the club is a huge boost and will certainly be well received by the fanbase.
The rebuilding process is not going to be easy but we’ve seen what Rooney was capable of doing with a threadbare squad this season so with more investment, there are signs that he could succeed next term.
That said, getting out of League One is far from easy and we’ve seen just how competitive it has been this season.
There’s lots of work to be done as Derby look to move forward but it’s phenomenal news Rooney will be the one leading them.