Wayne Rooney relishing return to management with Plymouth after Euro 2024 punditry cameo

New Plymouth Argyle head coach Wayne Rooney says he “did not want to be the next Gary Neville” when asked why he stopped punditry work to take over at the Championship club.

The 38-year-old, who was appointed Argyle head coach in May, said while he enjoyed being in the studio, he always had a desire to return to management.

Rooney had been working as pundit for the BBC during the European Championship and revealed, before leaving Germany after the conclusion of the group stages, he had been working around the clock as he prepared for pre-season with the club.

“I don’t want to become the next Gary Neville!” Rooney said, referring to the former England and Manchester United defender who is now a pundit for Sky Sports, and ITV for Euro 2024.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of preparation in terms of presentations for players, speaking to players and getting to know them a little bit more as well, so there was a lot of work being done, so I’m happy to be in here now and to meet the players, meet all the staff, and we’ve had a good first few days.

“I’ve had a passion and a love for football from when I was a baby, to breaking through at Everton at 16, to management. I’ve had little time off between jobs so the last few months have been strange for me.

“I’ve done TV work but I always had the desire to get back into management. I didn’t want to go in mid-season as straight away it becomes a lot more difficult. It’s important I went in somewhere for pre-season to start.”

The role at Argyle is Rooney’s first since being sacked at Birmingham City in January, then of the Championship, after an 83-day spell.

The ex-Manchester United and England striker succeeded Ian Foster at Home Park, who was dismissed in April after less than three months at the helm.

Asked whether he had something to prove at Argyle, who finished 21st in the Championship last season, Rooney said: “You always have to prove yourself. I had to do so in 20 years as a player and now as a coach. That’s normal, the pressure that you put on yourself and as manager, if you don’t do it there are consequences.

“I took a lot of time to reflect on Birmingham. Sometimes things happen for a reason and a good thing to come out of it is I am here now.

“My desire to manage, to improve myself and to improve players is what I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’ve had those months off (after Birmingham) to reflect on that and it’s made that desire to manage even stronger. So when this opportunity came up to manage Argyle I was delighted.

“I couldn’t wait to go through the interview process and, this isn’t me being cocky, it’s me being confident, I always felt that with my information, my experiences, I felt that if I went through the process, I will get the job. That’s just the confidence I have.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to take this club further forward.”

When asked what the Argyle supporters should expect to see from his side, Rooney was philosophical.

“I’m certainly I’m not going to say no fear football, which was put out last time,” he said, reflecting on what he promised when he took over at Birmingham.

“I want to be an attacking coach and play entertaining football, with control as well.

“I think my teams have always been very organised but we play good football and of course you want to score goals. That’s what everyone wants to see.”

(Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)

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