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Wayne Rooney: Birmingham City continue talks with former DC United boss to become John Eustace successor

Wayne Rooney has arrived in London; formal talks with Birmingham began only hours after they sacked John Eustace as head coach, with the club sixth in the Championship; Blues statement: "New manager will be responsible for creating an identity and clear 'no fear' playing style"

Wayne Rooney left DC United at the weekend
Image: Wayne Rooney left DC United at the weekend

Negotiations between Wayne Rooney's representatives and Birmingham City are progressing well although there are a number of contractual issues still to be thrashed out, Sky Sports News has been told.

Rooney landed in London on Tuesday ahead of face-to-face talks which will continue on Wednesday with a view to a deal being confirmed in the coming days.

The talks have been described as positive with both sides confident that Rooney will be the club's new manager before the weekend and able to meet the players.

Wayne Rooney's managerial record:

Derby: November 2020 - June 2022
P85 W24 D22 L29 - 28% win ratio

DC United: July 2022 - October 2023
P53 W14 D13 L26 - 26% win ratio

The former England and Manchester United striker was not mentioned directly in an open letter to Birmingham's fans, written on Tuesday by the club's chief executive Gary Cook.

But the letter reminds supporters of the ambitions of the new American owners, Knightshead Capital, and says: "The recruitment of talent is vital... Birmingham City Football Club needs world-class professionals across every department, to enhance our performance on and off the pitch."

Rooney mutually agreed to terminate his DC United contract over the weekend after they failed to make the MLS play-offs - and talks with Birmingham began only hours after they sacked John Eustace as head coach, with the club sixth in the Championship.

John Eustace has been sacked by Birmingham after 15 months in charge
Image: Eustace has been sacked by Birmingham after 15 months in charge

Eustace oversaw 21 wins in his 63 games in 15 months in charge, the last of which came on Friday night in the 3-1 victory over West Brom in a West Midlands derby.

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A Birmingham statement explaining Eustace's sacking said: "It is essential that the board of directors and the football management are fully aligned on the importance of implementing a winning mentality and a culture of ambition across the entire football club".

A new manager will be announced "in the coming days", Birmingham said, adding the new appointment "will be responsible for creating an identity and clear 'no fear' playing style that all Birmingham City teams will adopt and embrace".

Eustace is understood to have been unsurprised, but remains hugely disappointed by his sacking - and feels he helped to stabilise and steer the club through some of its toughest recent times.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham and West Brom

Birmingham's players are equally saddened by his departure, having enjoyed a close relationship with the 43-year-old.

He is keen to begin the next chapter in his management career, and has already been approached with possibilities.

Eustace was on Rangers' list of possible replacements for Michael Beale, but made it clear at the time he wanted to stay at Birmingham.

That opportunity has now passed, with Rangers close to appointing their next boss.

'Keenness from Birmingham and Rooney's representatives to get a deal done'

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Sky Sports' Rob Dorsett gives an analysis of the current situation at Birmingham City after the 'strange decision' of sacking former head coach John Eustace, with the club targeting 'box office' Wayne Rooney

Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett:

"From the people I've been speaking to, there is a keenness from both sides to get a deal done so he can take over as the new manager, but there is some water to go under the bridge before that happens.

"From the Birmingham supporters' position, it is a strange decision by the new owners. A lot of the fans on social media and that I've been speaking to have compared it to the club sacking Gary Rowett a few years ago and employing the big name Gianfranco Zola, which didn't work effectively.

"There have been few qualms, in truth, from supporters or elsewhere about the job Eustace has been doing; he's seen Birmingham through some very dark times. He's stabilised the club as a whole, is very popular with the players and staff here and he's been getting good results. It's a big call by the owners.

"My understanding is that Craig Gardner, the director of football here, had a big part to play in this decision. He wants to see Birmingham play a more attacking brand of football. It's pretty clear Rooney is box office - he's a huge name in world football. I think both sides saw this as a natural full-stop for Rooney at DC United and the start of a new chapter, perhaps at St Andrew's very, very soon."

Rooney still has it all to prove in management

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'Time is right to return to England' - Could Wayne Rooney be heading to Birmingham?

Sky Sports EFL Editor Simeon Gholam:

Wayne Rooney gained plenty of plaudits for his work at Derby County, in his first managerial role he was right up against it, dealing with administration, a 21-point deduction, and a squad hardly worthy of the Championship made up of academy graduates and free transfers.

The Derby fans were won over by his commitment, open communication and battling style, and it's worth noting that they picked up enough points in his one full campaign in charge to finish 17th. To keep them in the hunt for safety until mid-April was near-enough a miraculous effort.

It is one thing, however, to stand up and out when you are facing every type of adversity football can throw at you, it is another altogether to take a club moving in the right direction at last further up the Championship tree.

And speaking of trees, Rooney hardly pulled any of them up in his spell at DC United. Were he not the name he is, it is hard to imagine anything on his managerial CV being enough to convince the new Birmingham owners that he has earned the chance to replace John Eustace at St Andrew's.

The 37-year-old still has plenty to prove.

Deja vu for Birmingham fans as club hierarchy push for big-name appointment

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Birmingham City's decision to part company with John Eustace amid a link with Wayne Rooney was criticised by both Jason Burt of The Telegraph and Mark Ogden from ESPN on Back Pages Tonight

Sky Sports EFL editor Simeon Gholam:

For supporters of Birmingham City, there will be a real feeling of deja vu with this announcement.

The year was 2016, and the Blues were on the cusp of the play-offs and had been taken over by Trillion Trophy Asia a couple of months earlier.

The owners then decided to dispense with Gary Rowett, who had the side three points off sixth, to go with a big-name appointment in Gianfranco Zola.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND-JANUARY 2: Gianfranco Zola, manager of Birmingham City looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Birmingham City and Brent
Image: Gianfranco Zola replaced Gary Rowett at Birmingham in 2016

It was a move that proved disastrous. Zola picked up just two wins in his 24 games in charge, taking the club from seventh in the league to 21st.

The season ended with Harry Redknapp in charge for their final three games, and he managed to win two of them to keep the club just about in the Championship.

After two 10th-placed finishes under Rowett in the seasons prior to his dismissal, the club have not finished above 17th in seven seasons since.

Birmingham fans will be hoping lightning does not strike twice, and the next manager will take them forward rather than back into decline.

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