Wayne Rooney appointed Plymouth Argyle head coach

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Championship side Plymouth Argyle have appointed former England captain Wayne Rooney as their new head coach.

The 38-year-old succeeds Ian Foster, who was sacked on 1 April after a poor run of results.
It is Rooney’s first role since he was sacked by Birmingham City on 2 January after a disappointing reign of less than three months in which he lost nine of 15 games.

Blues, who were in the Championship play-off places when Rooney took over, were relegated to League One earlier this month.

The Pilgrims job is a fourth head coach role for Rooney – who was England’s top scorer with 53 goals until his mark was beaten by Harry Kane in March 2023.

He was Derby County boss during a period of financial difficulties.

Rooney guided the Rams to Championship survival in May 2021 in his first season in charge, but left a year later following the club’s relegation after Derby had been docked a total of 21 points for their financial problems.

He spent 15 months as boss of DC United in the United States, but left last October to take on the Birmingham job, having failed to guide the Washington-based side to the Major League Soccer (MLS) play-offs.

First-team coaches Kevin Nancekivell and Simon Ireland, and goalkeeping coach Daryl Flahavan will form part of Rooney’s backroom staff, with further additions to be made in due course.

‘The perfect next step in my career’

Wayne Rooney has been working as a pundit since leaving Birmingham City and will work for the BBC at Euro 2024.

Rooney has already had experience of Home Park and the club’s ‘Green Army’ fanbase during a 3-3 draw with Birmingham in December in the Pilgrims’ first game after former boss Steven Schumacher’s departure for Stoke City.

“Taking this role at Plymouth Argyle feels like the perfect next step in my career – and I would like to thank the chairman and board for the faith they have shown in me,” Rooney said.

“This is an opportunity to be part of an exciting project. I look forward to helping to build a squad of players to play expansive football – and to entertain the Green Army.

“I have experienced first-hand how talented the existing group of players is here – and also the incredible atmosphere at Home Park.

“The club is on an exciting long-term journey, with a progressive plan in place. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.”

Argyle chairman Simon Hallett said Rooney approached the club when they began the process of recruiting their next head coach having ensured survival on the final day of the season.

“Throughout the interview process, Wayne showed himself to be a passionate, intelligent, and knowledgeable candidate with an appetite to prove himself and develop his managerial career,” said Hallett.

“So much so, that he reached out to the board when we started this process and was attracted by the project at hand and showed a real plan on how to lead the football club forward.

“His ambitions and aims match ours perfectly and we feel he is the perfect candidate to provide the exciting and attacking brand of football that we all like to see and help us achieve the club’s mission.”

Is Plymouth the place for Rooney to show his managerial talents?


Rooney’s managerial career has so far failed to follow the trajectory of his playing days, which saw him burst on the scene as a teenager at Everton before going on to become Manchester United’s record goalscorer and England captain.

But could Plymouth be the perfect place for him to finally show his talents?

While Argyle are financially far from some of the big-budget ex-Premier League sides in the Championship, they have an owner in Simon Hallett who is ambitious and has a plan for a sustainable club.

The Pilgrims have shown great skill in bringing in young players and developing their talents – the likes of Morgan Whittaker and Finn Azaz thrived at Home Park this season.

He will also be at a club that can sign players – Derby’s financial situation was such that Rooney had one hand tied behind his back in terms of transfers, while he left Birmingham before he was able to operate in the January transfer window.

Argyle twice spent a club-record £1m on players last summer in Whittaker and fellow former loanee Bali Mumba, and the club will likely have similar funds to spend this close season.

And while the wages will not be fortunes, the chance to work with someone of Rooney’s reputation might be enough to lure players to Home Park that Argyle might not have previously been able to sign.

Rooney appointment a ‘roll of the dice’ for Pilgrims
Analysis – Brent Pilnick, BBC Sport, Plymouth
Rooney’s appointment is one of the most famous days in Plymouth’s long history – never before has such a high-profile figure in the game been associated with the club.

But it represents a real roll of the dice for the Pilgrims. While his pedigree as a player is undoubted, as a manager he has yet to hit the same heights that saw him win five Premier League titles, the Champions League and 120 England caps.

Argyle will hope they can get the Rooney that drew plaudits for his work keeping up a dysfunctional Derby, rather than the short time spent at St Andrew’s this season.

The appointment is also a big call for Argyle’s director of football Neil Dewsnip, who has appointed a second successive head coach from his file of personal contacts.
Dewsnip worked with a young Rooney while he was part of Everton’s academy set-up, having previously worked with Ian Foster when the pair were at the Football Association.

Foster’s appointment was almost disastrous for the club. It lasted less than three months and saw Argyle only stave off relegation on the final day of the season – at the expense of Birmingham, whose travails began under Rooney. (BBC)

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