Wayne Rooney has been fired as Birmingham City manager after a run of nine defeats in 15 games left the team on the brink of the EFL Championship relegation zone.
Birmingham’s American owners, Knighthead Capital Management, led by company co-founder Tom Wagner, removed Rooney from his post on Tuesday following a 3-0 defeat at Leeds United on New Year’s Day.
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In a statement released on Tuesday, Birmingham said: “Birmingham City has today parted company with manager, Wayne Rooney, and first team coach, Carl Robinson.
“Despite their best efforts, results have not met the expectations that were made clear at the outset. Therefore, the Board feels that a change in management is in the best interests of the Football Club.”
The club thanked Rooney and Robinson for their time and said professional development coach Steve Spooner would take on responsibility for coaching the club on an interim basis.
Sources told ESPN that the position of Garry Cook, the Birmingham chief executive who hired Rooney, is also under scrutiny but that the former Manchester City and Saudi Pro League CEO remains in post at this stage.
“Unfortunately, Wayne’s time with us did not go as planned and we have decided to move in a different direction,” Cook said in Birmingham’s statement.
“The search for a successor begins with immediate effect and we will update supporters when we have further news.”
Former Manchester United and England forward Rooney, who left his job as coach of MLS side D.C. United to take charge of Birmingham in October, was subjected to chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” by his own team’s supporters at Leeds.
Having inherited a side that was in the Championship playoff zone from predecessor John Eustace, who was surprisingly dismissed in October, Rooney signed a three-and-a-half year contract at St Andrew’s promising to bring “no fear” football to the club.
But Rooney, 38, suffered four defeats in his first five games and was unable to arrest a slump that has seen Birmingham slide down the table.
Rooney was critical of some of his players during his brief spell in charge, claiming that their fitness levels weren’t good enough and that some couldn’t play the way that he had asked them to perform.
But after guiding the team to just two wins during his three months in charge, Rooney has now been dismissed ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash with Hull City.
In his own statement, Rooney said: “I would like to thank Tom Wagner, Tom Brady and Garry Cook for the opportunity to manage Birmingham City FC and the support they all gave me during my short period with the club.
“Football is a results business — and I recognise they have not been at the level I wanted them to be. However, time is the most precious commodity a manager requires and I do not believe 13 weeks was sufficient to oversee the changes that were needed.
“Personally, it will take me some time to get over this setback. I have been involved in professional football, as either a player or manager, since I was 16. Now, I plan to take some time with my family as I prepare for the next opportunity in my journey as a manager.
“Finally, I wish Birmingham City FC and its owners my best wishes in the pursuit of their ambitions.”