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HomeSportsWayne Rooney's Dismissal from Birmingham City: A Departure 15 Games into a...

Wayne Rooney’s Dismissal from Birmingham City: A Departure 15 Games into a ‘Long-Term Project’

When Wayne Rooney was told his time as Birmingham City manager was up after just 15 games, he was shocked.Having signed a three-and-a-half-year contract, the former England striker was under the impression he had joined a long-term project. Rooney had enjoyed an open dialogue with the club hierarchy — including chief executive Garry Cook and director of football Craig Gardner — and there had been no indication their faith in him was waning.Birmingham won just two of Rooney’s 15 games but even after his most recent defeat, at Leeds United on New Year’s Day, he had spoken bullishly of being a “fighter” who would not shirk the challenge of rescuing the team from its tailspin. That run had seen Birmingham slide from sixth to 20th in the Championship table, just six points above the relegation zone.City supporters had never warmed to Rooney after he replaced the popular John Eustace and by the end of Monday’s game, their cries of “Wayne Rooney, get out of our club” left nobody in any doubt that their minds were made up. Less than 24 hours later, the club’s executives had reached the same conclusion.Birmingham’s players were told as they arrived at the club’s temporary training ground at Henley-in-Arden yesterday morning. Again the news was greeted with surprise but perhaps some relief, too.Rooney had been tasked with reinventing a group of players who had developed the reputation for counter-attacking football, of being well organised and hard to beat under Eustace, into a possession-based, attacking side that had to be brave on the ball. It clearly wasn’t working.The squad had felt the sacking of Eustace had been unnecessary. He was an honest, hard-working coach who had managed the club through difficult times under the previous ownership, but the players had tried to embrace the new approach from Rooney and his new but relatively inexperienced backroom staff, which included the former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole and Rooney’s former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea. Wayne Rooney was hired to instil a new style of football at Birmingham (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)There was no evidence that the players weren’t playing for Rooney and there were moments, such as the 2-2 home draw with Ipswich Town and the 1-0 win at Cardiff City, when things seemed set to click. But there were far too few of these moments to appease an unhappy fanbase that saw a team lacking in structure and seemingly confused or incapable of playing how Rooney wanted them to.

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