Former Wayne Rooney players reveal what he's really like as a manager as he gets new job

Wayne Rooney was one of four managers Birmingham employed this season
-Credit: (Image: Graham Chadwick/Getty Images)

Despite Wayne Rooney's rollercoaster managerial career - he still commands respect as he takes the helm at Plymouth Argyle for the upcoming season.

The Manchester United legend is back in management with the Championship side after a brief and tumultuous stint at Birmingham City, which concluded this January.

Despite a challenging tenure at Derby County that saw the team relegated to League One in 2022 following a 21-point deduction due to financial issues, Rooney's leadership qualities have left a lasting impression. His former player, Millwall's George Evans, recently lauded him in an interview with News at Den.

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Evans expressed his admiration, saying: "He's fantastic. He was in full communication with me when all of this [Derby's financial troubles] was going on, he was fully supportive. He told me my game time might be a bit limited. When he came in he got a few good results and I started playing as well."

Evans continued to heap praise on Rooney: "I've got nothing but good words to say about him and I think he's going to be a great manager. He's had the best career, we watched him as kids growing up and who better to learn from? In terms of man-management, he's a great guy. He'll tell you what you're doing well, what you need to improve on."

Former Derby player Richard Stearman has lauded the England legend for his motivational skills, both on and off the pitch. Speaking to The Athletic, Stearman highlighted Rooney's impact: "I think if you check our results after we got hit with something, every time we won," he said.

Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney speaking after being unveiled as Plymouth Argyle manager.
Former Man United striker Wayne Rooney speaking after being unveiled as Plymouth Argyle boss -Credit:Argyle TV

"He sort of used it to galvanise. Not just the team but the fans and community as a whole. He focused on what we could affect, and that was winning games and playing well. He was very inspiring as a manager and galvanised a dressing room comprised of very young and senior players, but he still created a great environment.

"He managed to give a lot of young players debuts that have gone on to have great careers so far." Rooney's influence at Derby is also fondly remembered by former protege and current Crystal Palace striker Luke Plange, who described Rooney as "the best coach in my career".

"The trust that Rooney showed me was the best thing that could have happened to me," Plange shared with MTV Uutiset. "Even though the team was in a difficult place, he and his teammates put their faith in me. It meant a lot."

"Until now, Rooney has been the best and most important coach in my career. It was purely because of the way he came to talk to me and helped build my confidence. He was once one of the best in the world at the same venue, so it was perfect."

Football veteran Curtis Davies, who was part of the Derby squad that faced relegation to England's third-tier in 2022, praised the 38-year-old for understanding the "characters" in the dressing room. "He knows our characters," said the Cheltenham Town defender.

"If there is anything he needed to convey or pass onto us, he would bring three or four of us into a room to do that. For the most part, we nip things in the bud before anything starts."

Despite many of his former Derby players publicly praising Rooney in recent years, the same cannot be said for Birmingham City players. Reports suggest they were frustrated after his comments about wanting to make 11 substitutions following their 3-1 home defeat by Stoke City last year.