Former Derby County defender Shaun Barker has insisted that he believes Wayne Rooney is the right manager to take the club forwards after he managed to keep them in the Championship.
It has been a real baptism of fire for Rooney in the hot seat as a manager at Derby this season, with him having got off to a strong start to life in charge only to see the Rams manage to pick up just one point from their final seven league matches. That solitary point was just about enough to keep them in the Championship, but the pressure will be on now heading into next term.
Derby’s chances of moving forwards on the field next term will not be helped by the situation surrounding the club off the field. The Rams are still facing the very real danger of a potential points deduction for next term, while the ownership situation needs to be sorted out and there are reports that Mel Morris is in talks with new potential buyers.
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Speaking to Derby’s official website, Barker confessed that he had doubts over Rooney’s initial appointment but he insisted that he has seen the right sort of things from him to suggest that he does have the ability required to do the job.
He said: “I will be honest, I was one of those that questioned Wayne coming in at the stage of the season where the club had the lack of resources in terms of the players he could bring in.
“I thought it might be too much and I quite quickly changed my mind after the first month or two, when I saw what he was trying to get out of the players.
“He was quite strategic in how he worked with the players and he put them under a bit of pressure.
“In those little moments, I thought Wayne showed his confidence and his strength in himself from that transition from being a player to a manager. I liked that from the start.
“After that run of form in terms of things going well, it was the real test when results went against the team and, understandably, I think he found that hard, along with the coaching staff and players also.
“We have had inconsistencies from the start of the season, and I think he has dealt with them really, really well.
He then went on to suggest that if Rooney is given the right backing to make the changes that he wants to make in and around the club, then he can take the Rams forward
He added: “I believe that with the squad he wants, the type of players that he wants, the consistency within the club that he wants, it is quite clear how he wants to move the club forward.
“I can only see things getting better. Understandably the players respect Wayne because of his career and what he achieved, but also how he has conducted himself both on and off the pitch.
“To keep the club in the division was the job this year and he has completed that. Now the next step is how he progresses with this club and with the group of players he is going to bring in.”
There will be a lot of major doubts over Rooney’s suitability for the job at Derby now following their difficult ending to the campaign in the Championship. However, you do have to factor in all of the off-field issues that he has had to contend with as well which would not have made things easy for him in his first-ever managerial role.
There will be a lot of supporters questioning whether he is the right person to still have in the job ahead of what could be an even more trying campaign next term. However, Barker is right there have been some signs since he has taken the job, especially in the first few months that he does have potential to develop into an effective manager.
Rooney though is going to be someone that is under intense scrutiny by supporters right from the outset next season. It will be vital that Derby get off to a good start to the campaign for him to avoid becoming under pressure in terms of his long-term future. However, with the position the club are in at the moment, there might be much room to financially afford to replace him