DERBY, England (AP) — Derby manager Wayne Rooney kept a relegation off his resumé when his team came back to earn a vital point against Sheffield Wednesday in a season-ending 3-3 draw to stay in the English second division next season.
The side coached by the former Manchester United striker conceded in first half injury time and squandered a 2-1 lead in the second half — all while fellow struggler Rotherham led at Cardiff 1-0.
Martyn Waghorn’s 78th-minute equalizer from the penalty spot, however, and Cardiff’s leveler in the 88th resulted in Derby staying in the Championship for another season by one point.
“I’m delighted,” Rooney told the club’s media. “For this football club, it was so important we stay in this division. The preparations for next season have to start now.”
Rooney took over Derby first on an interim basis as player-coach and then permanently in January upon his retirement.
Derby’s draw snapped a six-game losing streak but the Rams ended their season with just one victory in their final 13 games.
Rooney said it’s been “a very difficult season” on and off the field.
Derby has been under a cloud regarding ownership all season. A deal announced in November to sell the club was called off in March. Then, in early April, the club announced a new buyer in an agreement that is still awaiting league approval.
“I share the fans’ frustration as well,” Rooney said. “We want some stability, some clarity on what the situation is, and hopefully in the next few days we can get that.”
Rooney took over the coaching duties in November, when Phillip Cocu was fired with Derby in last place. He was still playing and was given the awkward title of “senior figure” on the interim coaching staff. He then retired from playing in January and was named manager. Cocu was hired after Frank Lampard left to become Chelsea manager in 2019.
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