Wayne Rooney gave a sensational rallying cry to Derby County’s supporters outside the club’s Moor Farm training ground just hours after they were relegated with a 1-0 loss at Queens Park Rangers on Monday.
The Rams started the season with a 12-point deduction after entering administration in September, and things got worse for Rooney’s men in November when they were given a further nine-point deduction for breaking FFP rules due to owing £29.3million to HMRC. It left Rooney with an uphill task of trying to secure survival in the second-tier, an almost nigh-on impossible feat given the circumstances.
Many expected Derby to be relegated in February or March, with the club doing extremely well to survive until the bitter end. Their fate has been sealed with three games to go, although it was always expected that the Rams would fail in their quest to avoid the drop to League One.
But Rooney insists he wants to stay on at the club despite relegation, with the ex-Manchester United and England star telling fans he will rally the team for next season after a gathering at the club’s training ground just hours after their defeat in the capital. “We’re grateful for the support you’ve shown us all season,” Rooney said to a group of gathered fans.
“It’s been f*****g tough, it’s been hard, difficult moments for us, for you especially, it’s been very tough. But we’ve tried our best, we’ve given everything we can, it’s unfortunate we’ve been relegated.
“But now we’ve got to plan to make sure this club comes back to the Championship.” Rooney’s rallying cry was met with applause and even chants of ‘Rooney, Rooney’ with fans elated he will be staying at Pride Park.
It seemed they would survive another day as the club looked set to hold on for a respectable point away at QPR, whilst Reading were 4-1 down at home to Swansea. And after Luke Amos’ 88th-minute winner consigned Derby to their 17th defeat of the season, a 94th-minute equaliser for Reading to make their own match 4-4 gave Rams fans the news they had all been dreading.
Derby boast the best defence in the bottom half of the division, and the 10th best overall.
But their attack is the fourth-worst in the league, and it remains evident as to where their biggest on-pitch problems were throughout the season.