‘I have a great relationship with Wayne’: Under-fire Derby boss Phillip Cocu insists he has the full support of Rooney and claims ‘I am not going anywhere’ amid rumours the player-coach is set to take charge if they lose to Watford on Friday night
- Phillip Cocu is reportedly fighting for his job against Watford on Friday night
- Player-coach Wayne Rooney would be set to take charge if Cocu is sacked
- Owner Mel Morris has insisted the under-fire coach is safe for now
- Derby have lost three of their opening four Championship fixtures
A report on Thursday indicated Cocu would be dismissed if Watford win at Pride Park, with player-coach Rooney – who is 10 months into an 18-month deal at the club – taking the reins.
But owner Mel Morris said Cocu was safe for the moment and would keep his job even if Watford take all three points. Derby have lost three of their opening four league fixtures.
Phillip Cocu insists he is ‘not going anywhere’ amid reports he is facing the sack at Derby
Player-coach Wayne Rooney is reportedly set to take charge if Cocu is shown the door
Cocu said: ‘I only can focus to do my job and I am not going anywhere. I will do my job with all the energy I have.’
Asked if Rooney had always backed him since he arrived last winter, Cocu said: ‘Absolutely, 100 per cent. I have a great relationship with Wayne.
‘We connect in a positive way. As the manager I get him close with the coaches, how we work to prepare for games, how we analyse after the game. As player he is important as a captain.
‘I think we work in a very positive way together, so there’s no doubt in my mind he is focusing on playing well and contributing to the team, to the staff, like he did in the last game at Norwich when he scored the late winner.’
Cocu has been in charge since July 2019 and since the end of last season, he has had to bring through young players while losing key senior ones like Chris Martin, Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe, as well as missing Martyn Waghorn, Tom Lawrence and Krystian Bielik due to injury.
But the former Dutch international insists he retains the full support of Rooney at Derby
Mel Morris insists Cocu’s job is safe even if they lose to Championship rivals Watford on Friday
Cocu added: ‘I speak with Mel Morris, Stephen Pearce about the club, we try to move forward with our project within the club in these difficult times.’
The Dutchman virtually ruled out Derby’s chances of re-signing Liverpool winger Harry Wilson on loan, due to financial constraints, but he was more optimistic about their chances of signing much-travelled striker Colin Kazim-Richards – as revealed by Sportsmail on Wednesday.
Earlier, Morris was asked whether Cocu would remain Derby boss regardless of Friday’s result and told talkSPORT: ‘We are not even close to discussions of that sort.
Rooney joined Derby as player-coach in January and does want to become a manager one day
‘Yes, he (Cocu) is under pressure but he feels that pressure himself, it’s not pressure we’re mounting on him. The pressure we’re talking about is that we need better results. Better results come from better performances.
‘We are very confident we have the right plans in place to turn things around. There’s no guarantee in football.
‘Everyone wants good results but we have a good understanding of what’s behind some of the results we’ve had so far, and we’ve had lots of discussions around that. He’s had lots of meetings with the team and the rest of the coaches.’