football

Wayne Rooney on Pep Guardiola and why Birmingham City fans didn't accept him 'from day one'

Wayne Rooney said Birmingham fans did not accept him "from day one" as he reflected on his short spell at St Andrews - and discussed Pep Guardiola - on the Stick to Football podcast.

Rooney replaced John Eustace in October but was sacked last month after winning two of his 15 games in charge and losing nine.

Birmingham were sixth in the Championship when Rooney was appointed but sat just six points above the relegation zone by the time of his departure.

"Birmingham City fans didn't accept me from day one,' he said on the Stick to Football podcast from Sky Bet. "John Eustace had done a good job, to be fair to him, but they made the change and asked me to go in.

"I went in, but I knew straight away that I wasn't accepted by the fans. I think it was more because John Eustace had done well. They were in sixth place when he got sacked.

"If you're a Birmingham fan, the last 10 years they've had, and they are touching the play-offs - I know it was early in the season - and then the manager gets sacked.

"They had the situation with [Gianfranco] Zola a couple of years ago, and that comes back into the minds as well.

"I think they [Birmingham City] were in a false position [when I arrived], but you back yourself. I'm someone who has always done that, I've always been a confident person.

"To be fair, the first five games we had were probably the toughest five games of the season, so that didn't help with what happened in the end.

"I backed myself - it didn't pay off - so I'll move on."

Despite his affiliation Manchester United, Rooney admitted he would be open to the idea of working on the blue side of Manchester.

Rooney became United's record scorer during 13 years at Old Trafford from 2004, scoring 253 goals in 559 appearances.

But the former England captain was linked with a move to City after handing in a transfer request at United in 2010. Rooney eventually patched up his differences with manager Sir Alex Ferguson and stayed at Old Trafford for another seven years.

However, when asked if he would be an assistant rather than a manager as his next steps, Rooney added: "It depends - if Pep Guardiola comes in and asks me to be his assistant, you'd walk there.

"You see what [Mikel] Arteta is doing now [at Arsenal] and I strongly believe a lot of that is from learning what Guardiola was doing, and so it depends on what the situation is.

"For me, the best manager is Pep and you look at how he adapts - how they [City] are playing now is not the same as how they were playing four years ago.

"He keeps making these subtle changes and then you see everyone else trying to do the same. They also work harder than anyone else."

Rooney has been linked to a possible switch to boxing, with the self-confessed fight fan confirming there have been talks to get him in the ring.

He also expressed an interest in becoming a lawyer during a recent media interview, saying he had applied to Nottingham University to study criminal law when he was at Derby.

Rooney laughed on the podcast when recalling telling lawyers what to ask during his wife Coleen's libel trial with Rebekah Vardy in 2022.

But Rooney insists his focus is firmly on returning to management after spells at Derby, Major League Soccer side DC United and Birmingham.

"It's all experience - I'm only 38, I've had three managerial jobs but I've got quite a bit of experience to lean on," said Rooney.

"If you look at the three clubs I've managed, going in at Derby under their circumstances in administration, DC United who were bottom of the league when I went over there, and now Birmingham, who over the past 10 years have been a mess.

"I want to focus on getting back into management. The main thing for me is to completely cut out what I've done as a player and almost start again as a manager.

"Of course, my playing experience will help me, but I'm right at the bottom from a managerial point of view, and I want to work my way up.

"I'm not relying on what I've done as a player to get me into places that I shouldn't be.

"I want to get back into managing and I want to prove myself - whether that's League Two, League One or Championship."

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