Friday 23 March 2018

'Imagine you have never kicked a ball in your life. You start your coaching at the same level as someone with 120 caps'

Wayne Rooney already has plans for the next phase of his career but, he tells Jamie Carragher, it must be made easier for ex-players to attract them to the hassle of management

Everton's Wayne Rooney. Photo: PA
Everton's Wayne Rooney. Photo: PA

There comes a point in every footballer's career when the end creeps closer and you consider a dreaded question: what next?

Wayne Rooney has much more to offer as an Everton player but as we sit down to discuss his achievements in the game he is at his most impassioned when contemplating his future.

"The main thing I want to have a go at is management," he tells me. "I would love to stay at Everton in a coaching role or hopefully manager one day. It is something I want to do - to stay involved, but if that is not possible I will look to see where the opportunities are for me. I am determined to become a manager.

"From next season I want to be doing some coaching sessions with the U-14s at Everton. It would be good to have all my badges by the time I have finished, but it is also about having the chance to carry on when I have so I can get straight into coaching."

With Steven Gerrard taking his first steps into management at Liverpool's academy, what chance he and Rooney boxing on the touchline in a Merseyside derby?

"Ha ha. I hope so," he laughs. "Obviously my first objective is to do well as a player over the next few years. Then I hope the role can grow into something beyond that. It is something I will talk about with the club when they and I feel the time is right.

"It was Neil Bailey at Manchester United who started me on the 'B' licence. We brought in a school from Ashton in Manchester and I coached them at United's training ground. I took the session on my own and found it very natural. I have never been shy to get up and speak in front of my team-mates or anyone. It was comfortable."

With this ambition comes a concern. It must be a worry for the FA that top-level internationals like Rooney see obstacles as much as assistance for those harbouring coaching aspirations. It means many, like me, go down the punditry path - media opportunities are more accessible, and less stressful, than those in coaching.

"The FA are not happy with the (lack of) ex-England players going into coaching, and rightly so, but they have to do more to make the option attractive," Rooney says.

"The problem nowadays is that most players who have played at the very top level don't need to do it for the money, so it has to be a motivation to want to do it.

"I know players who look at that process and what they see is five or six years to get all the badges. Do they really need that? It is a problem. You won't get enough players in.

"The FA has to look at that. We do the 'B' level coaching licence and, really, anyone can do it. Honestly. Anyone who has played to a level - any Premier League level - they can do that with their eyes shut. Imagine you have never kicked a ball in your life and you decide you want to be a coach, you will start on your 'B' licence the same as someone who has played 120 games for their country.

"Is that right? Should we really start at the same level? In that situation, with all the knowledge we as internationals have gained, it has to mean a bit more."

"You're not suggesting top players don't need coaching courses, though?" I ask.

"No, no. That's not the point," he agrees. "I am not saying you have to skip coaching badges. I understand you need to learn more advanced coaching skills, but it is that first bit I am talking about.

"It is the entry level - that first step that takes longer than it needs to. Is that really necessary for someone with so much experience already? They need to be more lenient with the top players - if that is what they want - in terms of recognising what they need to be attracted to go into coaching."

Like me at the same stage of my career, Rooney has a back-up option he is exploring. His stint on Sky's 'Monday Night Football' was widely praised and will open further opportunities.

Many were taken aback by how assured Wayne was in front of camera but none of those who know him well were shocked.

"TV is obviously interesting. When I see you all on TV I will say, 'He is good or he is s***'," he says. "When you get to a certain stage of your career you play the game thinking in a different way. You do think like a manager on the pitch. I play that way now thinking, 'He should be over here, and he should be there.' If I was full-time on the TV I am sure I would get better at it and bring something to it like you and Gaz (Neville)."

When discussion turns to Everton, Wayne's pride at being granted his wish to go back to Goodison is obvious.

"I always had in the back of my mind I wanted to go back," he says. "Over the last two or three years I went back to Goodison with my eldest lad. I was just thinking this is the right time. I wanted my kids to see me play for Everton. It was a natural fit."

"There must have been regrets when you left the first time?" I suggest.

He agrees. "There were things I had been dreaming of I had not done for Everton. What I really regretted was I had not scored against Liverpool for Everton. I did it for Manchester United but as a youngster it was never a dream of mine to score at Anfield for Manchester United."

I can't resist a follow-up to this.

"Does that penalty in December really count? Because Dominic Calvert-Lewin dived, didn't he?" I ask. "It was a clear pen," he instantly responds.

There is, however, an obvious irritation not only at how Everton are perceived, but even how the club has often perceived itself. He wants to be part of a radical shift in attitude.

"We need to change the mindset at Everton," he says. "Yes, seventh is a position we can finish in this season. That is respectable. But to finish above the top six at the moment we are going to have to have one of our best seasons and one of those must have a bad season. We have to change it. We don't want to going into a season saying, 'We want to finish seventh because it is going to be difficult to break into the top six'.

"We are bringing players in because we want to break into the top four. Everton is a big football club and that is where the ambition has to be. Over the next few years that ambition will start to change with the right personnel coming in. Hopefully I can have some influence in helping the club to do that."

As we dissect Wayne's career we cannot ignore England. Today, the visit of Crystal Palace to Goodison reacquaints Rooney with Roy Hodgson, the former England manager who shared his lowest point as an international. The defeat to Iceland was the beginning of the end of his England career.

"With England he did alright but it was just when we go to the tournaments, as a team, we were not good enough," he said. "You can say he should have done this or done that, but we did have a lot of young players coming through and I hope they will benefit going to Russia. But at the time, we just weren't good enough. I felt for us all. We had an opportunity to beat Iceland to go through. I can't explain it. You accept losing to the better teams. But when you lose to Iceland it was horrible. We panicked. We lost our shape and made it harder for ourselves."

Having seen Rooney's determination in full force as a player since his first Merseyside derby as a 16-year-old, don't bet against him making a similar impact in the technical area.

"Football is something I have done all my life. It is what I know," he says. "I don't think it would be right to walk away and not share that experience."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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