Speaking exclusively to Football League World, former Derby County midfielder Rob Lee has backed Wayne Rooney to keep the Rams in the Championship this season, and says he should only be judged after he has been backed in the summer transfer market.
Having started the season as part of Derby’s playing squad, Rooney has now found himself managing that same team, following the sacking of Philip Cocu in early November.
Since then however, the Rams have continued to struggle, winning ten and losing 17 of the 34 league games they have played under the Manchester United and England legend.
Indeed, only one of those wins has come in the last 13 games, meaning Rooney has become the subject of much frustration some sections of the Derby fanbase with the club now firmly in a relegation battle.
As things stand, Derby are currently 21st in the Championship table, four points clear of 22nd placed Rotherham, but having played two games more than the Millers, meaning their place in the second-tier for next season is currently out of their hands.
But despite that, it seems Lee – who made 50 appearances for Derby between 2002 and 2003 – has been impressed with the job Rooney has done in the Pride Park, and will keep the club in the Championship next season.
That relegation battle for Derby also comes amid the backdrop of a takeover of the club by businessman Erik Alonso, and it appears Lee feels that backing for Rooney in the summer, could give the 35-year-old a chance to prove himself properly in management.
Lee added: “He’s certainly a big enough name, and I’m sure that’s what Derby wanted, what the owners wanted is a big name.
“I think the time to judge Wayne Rooney is once, fingers crossed, they stay up, which they should do.
“Give him some money in the summer and see how it goes from there, and that’ll be the time to judge Wayne Rooney.”