‘Perfect next step’: Wayne Rooney confirmed as Plymouth Argyle manager

<span>Wayne Rooney will hope to repair his reputation after a disastrous spell as Birmingham manager.</span><span>Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images</span>
Wayne Rooney will hope to repair his reputation after a disastrous spell as Birmingham manager.Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt/AMA/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney has said accepting the Plymouth job is the “perfect next step” in his management career, with the former England captain thought to have signed a three-year contract as head coach of the Championship club.

Rooney returns to coaching after a chastening mid-season spell in charge of Birmingham, who were relegated to League One this month. The 38-year-old endured a difficult 83-day reign at Birmingham, where he lost nine of his 15 league matches. Plymouth finished 21st in the second tier and avoided relegation at Birmingham’s expense on the final day. Argyle will represent his fourth managerial job, after Derby, DC United and Birmingham.

Rooney’s appointment was announced just before he appeared as a BBC pundit for the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United, causing Gary Lineker to joke that he “didn’t expect his first question to be about Plymouth Argyle for this FA Cup”.

Rooney replied: “I’m really excited. I think obviously to go in as Argyle’s new head coach, it was a fuller process with a lot of managers who were interviewed for the job, and thankfully the club thought I was the best person for the job. I’m excited to get started and meet the players, meet the staff, and obviously a lot of work over the next month before we start pre-season.”

Plymouth’s chairman, Simon Hallett, revealed Rooney expressed an interest in the vacancy soon after they began their search for Ian Foster’s successor, interviewing several candidates including the former Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom.

“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, adding Rooney has been tasked with delivering an “exciting and attacking brand of football”.

Plymouth have not disclosed the length of Rooney’s contract but their chief executive, Andrew Parkinson, said the former striker is determined 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,” Parkinson said.

“When you have positive conversations like that it is a perfect match, and we believe Wayne is the ideal person to help the club on its next five-year journey. Focus will now switch to strengthening the squad ahead of next season, with our recruitment team working hard behind the scenes and Wayne will be an important contributor to that work.”

The analyst Pete Shuttleworth, who worked with Rooney at Derby, DC United and Birmingham, is expected to join the backroom staff. The coaches Kevin Nancekivell and Simon Ireland, as well as the goalkeeping coach Daryl Flahavan, will remain in post. “I can’t wait for the Championship season to start in August,” Rooney said.

Rooney has spent much of his time out of management since leaving Birmingham working in the media. He will be in the BBC studios for Saturday’s FA Cup final between his former club Manchester United and Manchester City and has signed up to work for the broadcaster as a pundit during Euro 2024.