There was a certain inevitability to the sacking of Wayne Rooney as Birmingham City manager. The only real surprise is how swiftly the end came. Rooney lasted just 13 weeks – all of 83 days – in charge. He won only twice, picking up a grand total of ten points, and suffered nine defeats in 15 games. The 3-0 loss to Leeds on New Year’s Day proved to be the final straw. It left Birmingham 20th in the Championship table and just six points above the relegation places. The club’s chief executive, Garry Cook, who brashly promised an era of ‘fear-free football’ under Rooney, seems to have changed his tune: ‘Unfortunately, Wayne’s time with us did not go as planned and we have decided to move in a different direction.’
Rooney appeared less than impressed, claiming that he wasn’t given enough time: ‘I do not believe 13 weeks was sufficient to oversee the changes that were needed’. It is hard to feel much in the way of sympathy given the dire run of results, and giving Rooney more time would only have made a bad situation even worse.
The turn of events is a personal and professional setback for Rooney but also a huge embarrassment for Birmingham’s new American owners Knighthead Capital, who bought the Championship club in August. Rooney was their marquee managerial signing, a globally-renowned superstar who embodied the club’s broader ambitions. It appeared to be of little consequence that there was nothing in Rooney’s two earlier spells in football management, at Derby County and MLS side DC United, to suggest that he was a sure bet to deliver success on the pitch. As a result, Birmingham’s owners have been handed a well-deserved lesson in the harsh realities of football.