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Opinion

Will Wayne Rooney become a player-coach?

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25th October, 2020
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The idea of a ‘player-coach’ has always been around professional sports.

A key player of the team who’s usually the captain, the player-coach acts as a direct link between the current players and the coaching staff.

This means they not only play in the squad, they have much more of a say of who is in it in the first place.

This role can be applied to many team sports and in recent years, has become more and more popular. Famous examples of player coaches include Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough Football Club in the mid 90s, Bill Russell for the dynasty Boston Celtics in the late 60s, Ruud Gullit for Chelsea in 1997 and Martin Prado for the last game of the 2016 season for the Miami Marlins.

Even more recently, Vincent Kompany served as a player-coach for Anderlecht in 2019 and it’s been speculated that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will serve as some kind of player-coaches in the upcoming NBA season for the Brooklyn Nets.

Although this is all good and well, what happens when a player-coach becomes susceptible to COVID-19? This is what Derby County will have to sort out in upcoming weeks due to their current captain and member of the coaching staff, Wayne Rooney, being forced into self-isolation.

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Wayne Rooney is one of England’s most successful footballers of all-time, having made 120 appearances for his country and 491 Premier League appearances with Everton and Manchester United. In November 2019, Rooney moved from DC United in the MLS to Derby County in the Championship as a player-coach and captain.

Rooney has expressed interest in becoming a manager after his playing career and this experience will definitely help. The 35-year-old has now played 24 games for Derby this season with his most recent game being a 0-1 loss to Watford.

On October 18, it was revealed to the general public that Rooney had been visited by Josh Bardsley a night before the Watford game who unknowingly was infected with the coronavirus.

When the Derby striker found out about Josh’s positive test, he informed the club immediately and took all the steps necessary to help stop the spread further. Fortunately, Rooney publicised via Twitter that he had tested negative for the virus but was to still remain in self-isolation.

Derby have played two games without their captain so far (against Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield) neither of which they won. This shows the risks of having a single player act as a crucial goal-scorer, a coach and also a captain because Derby now, after their first seven games, have lost five of them.

As of today, ‘The Rams’ are currently placed in the relegation zone for the Championship. Despite already being in bad form, losing a captain and a member of the coaching staff only makes matters worse.

Although it is uncertain how many more games Rooney will miss, Derby County should be a sign for teams all around the world about the risks and uncertainties of having a player-coach.