Derby County boss, Wayne Rooney, has been branded a fighter by Paul Jewell, who has been assessing the baptism of fire the former England international has faced at Pride Park.
Rooney hung up his boots as a player earlier in the season, taking on the Derby job after the club opted to cut ties with Phillip Cocu as a relegation battle loomed.
Thrust into the fight that was developing at the bottom of the Championship was never going to be easy for Rooney, with Derby losing back-to-back fixtures after Cocu’s sacking.
However, Rooney oversaw a run of just one defeat in eight heading into the New Year, then another solid run of results over January and February.
Speaking exclusively to Football League World, Jewell revealed that fight in Rooney was to be expected.
The former Derby boss said: “The one thing you are not going to get from Wayne Rooney is a lack of fight. He wasn’t only a brilliant footballer; he was a fighter as well. You don’t play at the level he did without having that steely determination. Wayne Rooney isn’t going to hide away from a fight.”
Derby, though, couldn’t build on those results and slipped back into trouble.
Rooney’s side won only once in their last 15 Championship fixtures, which left them in the relegation battle right up until the final day of the season when a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, combined with Rotherham’s stalemate with Cardiff City, kept them in the division.
Jewell also had his say on the baptism of fire Rooney has walked into.
He continued: “It’s a tough baptism of fire for him. Any job you go into, your first job, you learn so much each day. Sometimes it is difficult when you are a high-profile name, which I wouldn’t know, when the spotlight is always on you.
“The spotlight is on you as a player at a top team and it’s the same as a manager. When everything goes wrong, it is your fault, unfortunately that is the way that it is.
“Anyone that has been a manager realises that players win game and managers lose them.”
Despite securing their place in the division on the final day of the season, uncertainty surrounds Derby still after the EFL won their appeal over the Rams’ breach of Financial Fair Play.
Murmurs of a point deduction continue to loom, with any sanction of that ilk to this season’s total set to relegate Rooney’s side.