Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have been relegated from the Championship, it was confirmed on Monday.
Derby needed to better Reading’s result but fell to a 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers while Reading snatched a late comeback 4-4 draw against Swansea City.
Rooney managed to guide the club to safety on the final match of the 2020-21 campaign but was unable to repeat the feat this time around as Derby drop down to the third-tier of English football.
– Rooney’s job at Derby shows he’s ready for Premier League
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
Derby’s chances of survival took a massive blow in November when they were deducted a total of 21 points by the English Football League after the club entered administration.
“It’s a sad day. I’m sad, disappointed, upset, frustrated, but proud,” Rooney told BBC in his postmatch interview.
“I think the effort the lads and the staff have put in to try and galvanise the squad and the club, it’s been a lot of work put in.
“I’ve been in football a long time as a player and now in management and to see that reaction when a club’s been relegated, I’ve never seen it. So the fans know what everyone’s trying to do here and it’s a weird feeling.”
It has been a tough start to Rooney’s managerial career after he decided to cut his Major League Soccer playing days short at D.C. United to join Derby and become head coach in November 2020.
Rooney has said he will only remain at the club next season if there are new owners, with American businessperson Chris Kirchner named as the preferred bidder to take over.
“The takeover has to happen. If the takeover doesn’t happen, then I really fear for where the club will end up,” he told Sky Sports on Saturday.
“The club’s future is in doubt, if [the takeover] doesn’t happen my future is in doubt. So it has to. If it happens [the takeover], then I want to rebuild the club.
“You see the fans what it means to them every week, this is a special club, a big club we are all proud to be at and I want to be the one to bring the happy days back.”
Rooney, 36, has already turned down the opportunity to manage former club Everton this season while also saying his “dream job” would be a return to Old Trafford.
“We wanted to take it to the last game if we could, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Derby captain Tom Lawrence told the BBC.
“I’m super-proud of everybody involved with Derby County, the way everyone’s united together. I’m struggling for words for what to say but I’m super-proud of everyone and the fans.
“We’ve been up against it all season, set-back after set-back and the way everyone’s united as one has been special. I’m gutted for the fans, but better days are coming.”