Phillip Cocu’s exit from Derby is imminent but he is entitled to a multi-million pound pay-off… and, after being groomed as the Dutchman’s successor, Wayne Rooney WILL be taking over despite not having completed his UEFA coaching badges
- Wayne Rooney has been playing a waiting game ever since joining Derby
- Rooney’s deal has involved him being groomed as Phillip Cocu’s successor
- Cocu’s time is almost up and could end if Derby lose to Nottingham Forest
- A defeat will represent a sixth loss in seven Championship matches for Derby
It is not just the remaining seven days of his Covid self-isolation that will have Wayne Rooney watching the clock in his Cheshire mansion.
The former England captain has been playing a waiting game since he joined Derby on an 18-month contract as player-coach last year, a complex deal which, as Sportsmail revealed last November, involved him being groomed as a successor to manager Phillip Cocu.
Cocu’s time in charge at Pride Park is almost up and could end as soon as Friday evening if his side lose the East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest. Only the precise timing and cost of the Dutchman’s departure are to be determined.
Phillip Cocu’s time at Derby is almost up and Wayne Rooney (right) is set to replace him
The former England captain has been playing a waiting game since he joined Derby last year
Derby owner Mel Morris is understandably reluctant to commit significant funds to severance packages for Cocu and coaches Chris van der Weerden and Twan Scheepers, who all have almost three years left on contracts which entitle them to multi-million pound pay-offs. But he may have little choice if Derby suffer a sixth defeat in seven Championship matches.
The always hands-on Morris has increased his demands of Cocu in recent weeks — summoning him to breakfast meetings, asking for written reports of matches and planned training sessions — leading to speculation that the chairman is seeking to pressure him into walking away.
To complicate matters further, Derby are still waiting for the outcome of the EFL’s appeal against the decision of an independent disciplinary panel to clear the club of breaking the league’s financial rules. A final judgement is expected next month.
Derby owner Mel Morris is reluctant to commit significant funds to severance packages
But his hand may be forced if Derby lose the East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest
If that hearing goes against them, Derby could be hit with a points deduction which may effectively condemn them to relegation. This would have a significant impact on the club’s finances and the appeal of the manager’s job.
Rooney remains content to bide his time and not just because his potential exposure to Covid-19 will prevent him taking charge of training until the middle of next week. The 34-year-old has yet to complete his UEFA coaching badges so will need back-up from experienced coaches if he is appointed.
Liam Rosenior, the former Brighton defender, has made a positive impact since joining the coaching staff last year and already has his UEFA Pro Licence but Rooney is understood to be considering bringing in outside help.
His former Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher is due to finish his coaching badges imminently and is a close confidant, while Rooney’s former coaches at Old Trafford Steve McClaren and Mike Phelan have also been sounded out. Such is Rooney’s confidence at eventually getting the manager’s job that he was even discussing potential coaching options with senior team-mates.
Rosenior is sufficiently well regarded at Derby to be seen as a potential caretaker manager himself and could yet be asked to join Rooney’s staff.
Coach Chris van der Weerden is also due a multi-million pound pay-off if he is let go by Derby
Liam Rosenior, the former Brighton defender, has made a positive impact since joining
The potentially negative look of appointing an unqualified white coach over a black coach of a similar age who does have the necessary badges has also been considered.
The club have unwittingly been dragged into race related controversies in the past, with Les Ferdinand making the point that young black coaches do not get opportunities such as that which Derby gave to Frank Lampard, Cocu’s predecessor.
The competition between Rooney and Rosenior is symbolic of a deeper tension at the club, with the uneasy relationship between the captain and manager at its heart.
While Rooney initially had a galvanising effect following his arrival from Major League Soccer last December, with Derby winning 11 of the 19 games he played, his impact has lessened this season other than scoring the winner in last month’s 1-0 victory at Norwich.
Senior staff at the club’s Moor Farm training ground have indicated that Rooney became disillusioned towards the end of last season and there have been repeated mutterings about his condition and commitment this season.
A 4-0 home defeat by Blackburn last month saw Rooney looking particularly off the pace, after which Cocu conceded he needed to be fitter, a statement which did not go down well with the player.
Cocu pushed hard to recruit senior players during the transfer window and forced through the bizarre signing of 34-year-old striker Colin Kazim-Richards earlier this week on a free, whereas Morris wants the manager to play talented academy products such as Jason Knight and Louie Sibley in the hope of adding to their transfer value.
Derby have won just two of eight matches this season with the tensions between leading personalities adding to the air of negativity which Morris will not allow to persist. One more defeat and the clock is likely to stop for Cocu.
Former Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher is a close confidant of Rooney’s