September 25, 2022

DC United have spoken to former superstar Wayne Rooney about becoming their head coach, four people familiar with the situation said on Friday night and Saturday morning. It was still unclear when such a move would occur, if at all.

The teams, one person said, have been in regular contact for some time over his interest in coaching the MLS club next season. But with United – the team Rooney played for in 2018-19 after a checkered Premier League career – near the bottom of the league under caretaker manager Chad Ashton, talks have pivoted to him possibly- to be coming this season.

Rooney, however, is also weighing interest in a Premier League club job, the person said.

United officials declined to comment. Paul Stretford, Rooney’s agent, did not respond to a message seeking comment. Those who confirmed the talks spoke on condition of anonymity so they could discuss the matter freely.

The Daily Mail was first to report Rooney’s interest in guiding United, who sacked second-year manager Hernán Losada six games this season. Ashton, a longtime assistant, was to oversee the team for the rest of the year.

However, United (5-10-2) did not improve, and Friday’s 7-0 away loss to the Philadelphia Union equaled the MLS record for the biggest goal margin . Since the managerial change, United are 3-6-2 and have conceded 32 goals to drop to 26th among 28 teams overall.

A more perfect Union tears DC United apart with a record rout

United have not qualified for the playoffs since Rooney’s second season in MLS. He had planned to play in Washington for at least one more season, but since his family was not comfortable living overseas, he and the club mutually agreed to part ways.

Rooney returned to England and joined Derby County as a player and assistant manager. When Phillip Cocu was let go in the fall of 2020, Rooney and three others shared duties until Rooney was named permanent head coach. He soon retired as a player, finishing as the top scorer in the history of the English national team.

The Rams narrowly avoided relegation, but last season Rooney faced huge challenges. They were declared insolvent, resulting in a 12-point deduction in the standings. They later lost nine points due to financial violations.

Derby finished penultimate and were relegated to League One, prompting Rooney, 36, to retire last month. Since then he has explored training opportunities in Europe and spoken to United co-chairman Jason Levien on several occasions, two people have said.

DC United’s Bill Hamid out 2-3 months with hand injury

Despite ending his DC playing career earlier than expected, Rooney remained close to United officials and players. He and Captain Steven Birnbaum – along with their wives – are good friends, and the four reunited in December in England.

Additionally, the club’s management have occasionally contacted Rooney for advice on player targets in Europe, one person has claimed.

One such player, this person said, was Welsh striker Tom Lawrence, who played with and for Rooney at Derby. United have expressed interest in signing him this summer before he joins Glasgow Rangers.

During Rooney’s playing days in MLS, United officials and players marveled not only at his technical ability, but also at his footballing spirit and ability to analyze games. He was the captain of the team and many thought he would become a manager before long.

Returning to Washington, however, would raise questions about his family’s happiness and, by extension, his happiness. He and his wife, Coleen, have four children, ages 4 to 12.

Prior to moving to the DC area, the family had never lived outside of the Liverpool-Manchester area. Rooney’s wife would have lived miserably abroad.

Before appointing anyone, United should comply with MLS’s hiring policy on diversity, which requires at least two non-white candidates among the finalists for technical staff positions. No other names have surfaced publicly.

The league, however, grants waivers in “extenuating circumstances.”

United did not have to follow league policy when Ashton replaced Losada as he filled the job on short notice and on an interim basis.

Hiring Rooney would help distract from another losing season. In his time as a DC striker, Rooney won over fans not only with his goalscoring exploits, but also with his work ethic, leadership traits and his interaction with the public.

His arrival in Washington coincided with the opening of Audi Field in July 2018 and his offensive partnership with Luciano Acosta (now with Cincinnati) electrified crowds and brought global attention to a club that had lost its relevance. at local and national levels.

Even as DC United struggles, Taxi Fountas has become a star

In 2018 he made one of the greatest plays in the club’s history, returning to midfield to deny a goalscoring opportunity when United’s goalkeeper was on the attacking side, then throwing a long ball at Acosta for a match winner in stoppage time.

A person familiar with the negotiations said the former England national team star believes he can win in Washington. Despite the team’s poor record, Greek striker Taxi Fountas is one of the best newcomers to the league, Chilean striker Martín Rodríguez will make his debut soon, and the club have said they plan to do so. sign at least two more before the summer transfer window closes on August 4. United have two Designated Player slots available.