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Wayne Rooney: Plymouth Argyle appoint Man United legend as new manager

Argyle narrowly avoided joining Rooney's former side, Birmingham, in suffering Championship relegation

Wayne Rooney

Championship side Plymouth Argyle have handed Wayne Rooney a surprise return to management by making the 38-year-old their new head coach.

Manchester United record scorer Rooney was sacked by Birmingham City in January after a dismal 83-day spell in charge, taking the Blues from play-off contenders to relegation candidates in the second tier.

The former DC United and Derby County boss lost nine and won two of his 15 games in charge at City, who dropped out of the division despite winning on the final day of the season.

“Taking this role feels like the perfect next step in my career,” said Rooney, thanking Argyle chairman Simon Hallett and chief executive Andrew Parkinson for their “faith” in him.

Plymouth said they had interviewed “highly experienced managers and head coaches”, identifying Rooney’s “strong character and ability to battle against the odds” as key.

“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.”

Parkinson said Rooney is looking to “kickstart his managerial career”. “As conversations advanced, it was clear there was a natural alignment in our footballing ideals and the best way to take the club forward,” he added.

“When you have positive conversations like that, it is a perfect match. We believe Wayne is the ideal person to help the club on its next five-year journey.”

The Pilgrims won the League One title in 2022/23 under former manager Steven Schumacher, who left for Stoke City in December.

Former England youth coach Ian Foster took over in January but was sacked less than three months later with Argyle on a dire run of form that had put them in relegation peril.

Kevin Nancekivell, who formed part of an interim management team as Plymouth narrowly avoided relegation, will remain on Rooney’s staff alongside Simon Ireland and goalkeeping coach Daryl Flahavan.

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

“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. I can’t wait for the Championship season to start in August.”

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Ben Miller

Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.