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Inside Wayne Rooney’s disastrous 84-day Birmingham spell, with players RELIEVED at sacking after soft approach

WAYNE ROONEY went for a softly-softly approach as a manager.

That was quite a surprise when you consider that — on more than one  occasion at Manchester United — he got Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment.

Wayne Rooney has said he'll need time to get over his axing

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Wayne Rooney has said he’ll need time to get over his axingCredit: Rex
Midfielder Gary Gardner shows the strain for lowly Birmingham

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Midfielder Gary Gardner shows the strain for lowly BirminghamCredit: Rex
Patrick Bamford heads the opener for Leeds in a 3-0 win over Birmingham on New Year's Day that proved the final straw for Rooney

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Patrick Bamford heads the opener for Leeds in a 3-0 win over Birmingham on New Year’s Day that proved the final straw for RooneyCredit: Rex

During his disastrous 15-game spell in charge of Birmingham, which brought just two wins, Rooney opted for a totally ­different tack  to his former boss — and  ended up as an unmitigated disaster.

The last time Roo spoke to his Blues team was in the dressing room after their 3-0 defeat at Leeds on Monday.

And the former England captain — clearly frustrated after the ninth defeat of his reign — told the squad he was only going to say a few words as he wanted to avoid losing his temper.

Rooney, 38, did not want to say  anything he would regret.

The fire which took him to the very top as a striker appeared to be missing from his time as a coach. Certainly in this spell at Birmingham.

Instead, Rooney did his best to remain calm and measured, maybe too much so.

Though he talked in his leaving  statement about focusing on his next management job after some time away with the family, you do wonder if the one-time Three Lions and Red Devils‘ star has blown his chance of ever becoming a top-level boss.

He is a big-thinker about the game but, like team-mates Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard from England’s so-called Golden Generation,  Rooney has failed to cut it in management.

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After the Leeds defeat, he did not travel on the team bus, instead returning home to the North West.

Rooney rarely travelled with the team to away games — not even staying in their hotel the night before.

Instead, he arrived in the morning.

While this is not totally unusual for some managers, you would have thought Rooney, having only joined the club in October after leaving DC United, would have wanted to spend as much time with his lads as possible.

He was an unpopular choice to replace John Eustace, who was loved by players and staff only to be sacked with the Blues in sixth place.

While players still had respect for coaches Ashley Cole and John O’Shea — who both took training yesterday — it soon evaporated as the defeats continued.

But the biggest disappointment was that Rooney failed to really stamp his authority on the team.

When announcing Rooney’s appointment, Brum chief executive Garry Cook said: “When the opportunity presents itself to appoint a manager who shares your ambition and is both a student and a great of the game, then you act.

“This is what we have done.

“We are confident his appointment, supported by his hand-picked coaching staff, will culminate in a young, attack-minded team that will excite our fans.”

Ultimately, the front-foot football which had been promised never materialised.

Coach Carl Robinson departed with Rooney, but ex-Prem stars Ashley Cole and John O’Shea have since taken Birmingham training

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Coach Carl Robinson departed with Rooney, but ex-Prem stars Ashley Cole and John O’Shea have since taken Birmingham trainingCredit: PA

Rooney did try to get the team playing out from the back.

But considering the quality of the  players at his disposal, this change in philosophy seemed risky.

The poor results on the pitch proved the change in style was a mistake.

Previous manager Eustace knew the squad’s strengths and weaknesses.

At training, Rooney rarely focused on team shape or specific patterns of playing.

As the team continued to struggle in the Championship, it was felt in some quarters that standards were slipping.

Nobody was getting fined for small misdemeanours, such as turning up late for training. Clearly, Rooney did not ­relish confrontation.

For the last three games, he left experienced striker Scott Hogan out of the squad but did not explain that decision.

And after another lousy performance in Yorkshire, there was no major surprise at the club when Rooney’s sacking was announced yesterday.

When the squad arrived at the training ground, there was no sign of him.

The Blues sacked boss John Eustace in October when they were sixth

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The Blues sacked boss John Eustace in October when they were sixthCredit: PA

But while the news broke on social media, the squad were only told of the sacking at a 10.45am team meeting with technical director Craig Gardner.

Coaches Carl Robinson and Pete ­Shuttleworth — who worked with Rooney at MLS side DC United — both packed their bags and left.

Former England left-back Cole and ex-Old Trafford defender O’Shea took training along with Under-21s manager Steve Spooner, while the players have been given today off.

Now, Birmingham are looking for yet another manager.

Eustace was sacked with the club in the play-off spots and he must have regretted turning down Swansea twice in the summer.

Although he is open to a return to St Andrew’s, this seems unlikely.

Rooney was seen as a manager rather than a coach and all eyes will be on where he ends up next.

As for Blues, time is not on their side. They visit Hull in the FA Cup on Saturday — which is pretty much a free hit.

But they will go into their home league game with Swansea in ten days’ time in 20th, just six points clear of the bottom three and defeat at St Andrew’s could drag them even further into trouble.

When Rooney was appointed to much fanfare just 83 days ago, Birmingham’s fans were hoping for a promotion charge.

Instead, they have ended up in a relegation fight.

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