Wayne Rooney has criticised Birmingham City for not giving him enough time after he was sacked just 83 days into his doomed spell at the club.
Rooney’s turbulent 15-match reign was ended after the club reluctantly announced his departure following an appalling run of results. The former England and Manchester United captain lost nine of his 15 matches, winning just twice. Birmingham’s board concluded they had no option but to dismiss him after watching the club plummet from sixth in the Championship to 20th.
In a statement, however, Rooney hit out at the club for panicking and denying him the opportunity to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.
“I would like to thank Tom Wagner, Tom Brady and Garry Cook for the opportunity to manage Birmingham City FC and the support they all gave me during my short period with the club,” he said. “Football is a results business – and I recognise they have not been at the level I wanted them to be. However, time is the most precious commodity a manager requires and I do not believe 13 weeks was sufficient to oversee the changes that were needed.
“Personally, it will take me some time to get over this setback. I have been involved in professional football, as either a player or manager, since I was 16. Now, I plan to take some time with my family as I prepare for the next opportunity in my journey as a manager.
“Finally, I wish Birmingham City FC and its owners my best wishes in the pursuit of their ambitions.”
Next manager options include Mowbray
Birmingham’s owners will now ramp up their search for a new manager, as they move to save their season.
Among those on the wishlist of the Birmingham board, although likely to be out of reach for now are the former Premier League managers Ralph Hasenhüttl, Jesse Marsch and Steve Cooper. The club will explore the options on all of them.
Hasenhüttl has not worked since he left Southampton 14 months ago. Marsch has taken almost one year out of the game since his sacking at Leeds United in February last year. He is now resident in Europe and engaging on potential jobs with interest from Besiktas in Turkey, where the head coach job is vacant.
Tony Mowbray, who was dismissed by Sunderland last month, is also set to emerge as a realistic contender. Former QPR manager Mark Warburton is understood to have some support at the club while Gary Rowett, controversially dismissed by Birmingham in 2016, would be a popular appointment with many fans.
Rooney controversially replaced John Eustace in October with the club sixth in the table, but the 3-0 defeat at Leeds on New Year’s Day leaves them 14 places worse off and just six points above the relegation zone.
Eustace would also be open to returning, but it is thought highly unlikely that Birmingham would consider it.
“Birmingham City has today parted company with manager, Wayne Rooney, and first team coach, Carl Robinson,” the club said in a statement. “Despite their best efforts, results have not met the expectations that were made clear at the outset. Therefore, the board feels that a change in management is in the best interests of the football club.
“The club’s board and management are fully aligned and will continue to drive transformation and take bold steps to rebuild Birmingham City into the organisation its fans and community deserve.
“The board would like to place on record their sincere thanks to Wayne and Carl for all of their efforts.”
Cook, the club’s chief executive, commented: “We are committed to doing what is necessary to bring success to St. Andrew’s. Unfortunately, Wayne’s time with us did not go as planned and we have decided to move in a different direction.”