Wayne Rooney has refuted claims that his appointment as head coach of Major League Soccer club DC United represents a “backward step” in his coaching career.
The 36-year-old has returned to management with his former club after leaving Derby last month after a turbulent time in which his personal stock increased amid instability off the pitch at the Rams.
The former England, Manchester United and Everton striker has spent little time returning to the game, but he will have to wait for the conclusion of a visa application before legally taking up his new post back in Washington, where he played for two years.
“I’ve seen a few articles, certainly back in England, on this as possibly a backward step in my managerial career. I really found that a bit disrespectful to this league,” he said at a press conference broadcast on the club’s YouTube channel.
Rooney revealed there had been a few other clubs, both in England and in Europe, who got in touch ‘following his exit from Derby, but that he had been planning to ‘take a bit of a break’ before the DC United opportunity came up.
“I think as a player, playing in the main of my career at the top level, you can really choose which club you want to go to,” he said.
“As a manager, I’m at the beginning of that journey. I’m at a point in my managerial career where I have to put the work in, I have to put the hours in.
“Of course, I’m an ambitious person, I want to manage at the top level and this is part of that process, in terms of coming here, trying to develop this club, trying to get success here, but also develop myself as a manager.”
Rooney also mentioned his “connection” to the club, saying, “There isn’t another MLS team I would have gone to.”
Rooney joined DC United as a designated player in June 2018 and went on to make 48 appearances, scoring 23 goals and assisting on 15 others.
He said that his family was supportive of the idea, but that he would stay in England for the time being and visit.
‘That’s not an issue whatsoever from a family point of view,’ he said.
Rooney called the move an “interesting challenge” and “something I feel may help me improve as a coach.”
He takes over a team that lost 7-0 to Philadelphia on Friday and now sits second-from-bottom in the Eastern Conference.
‘The team needs to improve and I really feel with my capabilities of developing players, young players, we can get this club back to successful ways again,’ said Rooney.