Wayne Rooney remains patient at DC United in bid to ‘develop’ as manager

Wayne Rooney roared onto the scene as a player but is taking a more patient approach to coaching as Manchester United and England greats strive to become a top manager.

No one could forget his impressive breakthrough as a teenager with Everton and then the national team, which led to his big-money move to Old Trafford in 2004.

Rooney was a force of nature winning trophies galore as records tumbled with United before ending his career with spells at Everton, DC United and Derby.

The striker hung up his boots in January 2021 to take up the role of full-time manager at County, guiding them through difficult times during a rollercoaster start to his managerial career.

The 37-year-old decided to return to the US and has seen a marked improvement since taking over at then-struggling Major League Soccer DC United last July as he builds his coaching pedigree.

“It’s been a great experience,” Rooney told the PA news agency. “Obviously I had the challenge in Derby County, which was difficult to say the least.

“But coming here has really been about gaining experience and for me trying to develop as a coach.

“I know I’m not where I want to be as a finished article, but these next few years are really important in terms of me getting familiar and getting the best out of myself and ultimately the players. But it’s something I really enjoy.”

Rooney appears to be approaching his coaching career with a calm and patient mindset, something that might come as a surprise to those who saw this aggressive whirlwind of forward thunder around the pitch.

“I think patience is key and understanding that you’re going to lose games, you’re not going to win every game and stay calm in those situations,” he said before leading the MLS All-Stars against Arsenal at Audi Field.

“I think that’s something that’s really a strength of mine is understanding that.

“I have chosen two jobs that are difficult to accept, to be fair, but I really believe that they will help me in the future.

I know I’m not where I want to be as a finished article, but these next few years are really important in terms of me familiarizing myself and getting the best out of myself.

Wayne Rooney

“When DC came along, I felt like it was a great opportunity to go out there and continue to develop.

“A difficult job in terms of where the club was, so I had to try to improve the club first and get them on the table.

“And really just seeing different challenges, different things, obviously languages, culture, religion, and understanding all the different scenarios that could happen if you manage at the highest level, that you’re going to have to deal with.”

Rooney’s knowledge and experiences have clearly made him a thoughtful and empathetic coach, focused on developing himself and his players at DC United.

“I think it’s a place where I come to work and learn and develop,” he said.

“Of course, after the games you can get frustrated and you’re always thinking about how the game went, but I think it’s the right place right now, right now, for me to develop.”

With his family in the UK, Rooney says he lives a “pretty boring” existence in the United States, about a 45-minute drive from central Washington DC.

He stays with his fellow coaches, and the relaxed atmosphere allows the soccer obsessive to try new things.

“If you had asked me a year ago if I would play a back five, I would have said no,” Rooney said.

“Then I’ve gone to a back five quite a few times this season probably because of the quality of the players and it suited the team more with the players they had.

“So there are little things like that that have allowed me to learn and develop tactically with different formations.

“It’s a great experience for me to come here and work and I think it will really help me move forward.”

Rooney has never shied away from his ambitions to one day manage at the highest level, previously saying he would “love” to coach Manchester United or boyhood club Everton.

But right now it’s DC United who keep their full focus on a competition that seems to be about to take a big leap forward.

Lionel Messi’s surprising move to Inter Miami certainly has the potential to take soccer in North America to new heights, while Rooney believes the true quality of MLS has long been underestimated.

“I think it has surprised a lot of people,” he said. “Even now I have agents calling me and telling me that there is a striker in League Two and that he is ready to come to MLS.

“I’m like: ‘He’s not good enough to come and play in MLS!’

“I think maybe it’s a lack of understanding of the league and maybe there’s a little bit of disrespect for the league from that point of view.

“There are some very quality players in this league who can play at a high level.

“There are different challenges, technically there are some great players in this league, athletically there are some really capable players in the league.

“It’s a league that I feel is still getting better and can get better, but I think it’s really gotten to a very good level.”

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