Move forward, with an aggressive approach, embrace chances, and show courage; this is the supposed formula for the fearless style of play promoted by Birmingham City’s leaders as reasons to be optimistic about a fresh, ambitious era under the leadership of Wayne Rooney and the presence of Tom Brady. While all of these elements were evident in Rooney’s first home game as manager, the issue was that these buzzwords were exemplified not by Birmingham, but by their opponents Hull City. The disappointment and frustration were palpable as boos echoed around St Andrew’s at the end of the game.
It was concerning to see Rooney criticize his players’ attitude and acknowledge that some of them have expressed discomfort with his expectations, following a second consecutive loss since taking over. To his credit, Rooney has always been straightforward. “It’s evident that the players are not at ease,” he stated. “I’ve told them, ‘Be honest with me, if you don’t feel capable, let me know, we can make changes, we can adjust.’ It’s something for me to consider: ‘Am I asking too much, too quickly?’ It’s my responsibility to address that.”
After the pre-game display of pyrotechnics and fireworks, Rooney’s entrance was underwhelming. His first appearance at this stadium in 2002 resulted in a red card for Everton when he was 17 years old, after making a reckless tackle on Steve Vickers just 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute. This was yet another disappointing evening for Rooney, as the opposing team’s fans taunted him with chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” as Birmingham secured their inevitable victory. The goals were scored by Championship’s most thrilling players, Liam Delap and Jaden Philogene. Philogene’s goal, a stunning shot from outside the box, effectively sealed the game with 74 minutes remaining, much to Rooney’s frustration. “I was disappointed with the lack of effort in the final 10 minutes,” he remarked.
During the recent match at Middlesbrough, Wayne Rooney faced off against his former teammate Michael Carrick. On the sidelines, he was joined by another familiar face, his former assistant at Derby County, Liam Rosenior. Despite the challenges they faced together in the past, they have built a strong friendship. However, during the match, they were focused on competing against each other from a few meters away. Rosenior expressed excitement for Wayne Rooney’s role as manager of Birmingham and believes that given time, he will be able to establish a successful team and playing style.
Rooney swivelled in his technical area as Delap feasted on a blind pass by the Birmingham left-back Emmanuel Longelo to earn Hull a 12th-minute lead and the locals grew increasingly restless as Hull pushed for a second goal. Philogene, the impressive England Under-21 winger signed from Aston Villa in the summer, went close in the first half before deservedly adding Hull’s second goal after the interval, bouncing in off the left flank before curling a shot into the far corner.
Birmingham’s decision to fire John Eustace, despite the team’s sixth place position in the table, and hire Rooney as their new manager, was motivated by their desire to play fearless football. Garry Cook, the club’s chief executive, stated that his remarks could be interpreted in different ways.
He emphasized at Rooney’s introduction that being overly cautious can result in achieving only average results.
Rooney was faced with a painful irony as he looked around in the final minutes. The clothing company Undefeated, which was announced as Birmingham’s main sponsor in the summer, was constantly displayed on the LED advertising boards around the field. This partnership was the first significant move by the American owners, coming a month before Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, became a minority shareholder. The Birmingham leadership, including chairman Tom Wagner who was in attendance, could certainly benefit from their recent star signing making a quick impact.