Manchester United legend is slowly preparing to become future manager at Old Trafford – Steven Railston

The pair contributed 60 goals and 22 assists between them and Ronaldo won his first Ballon d&aposOr at the end of that campaign, but the Portuguese international wouldn&apost stay at Old Trafford for much longer and left for Real Madrid a year later.

Rooney and Ronaldo went their separate ways and their eventual paths couldn&apost have been more different, as one player retired from playing in 2021 while the other is still competing in Saudi Arabia at the age of 38 years old.

Ronaldo is eight months older than Rooney, but it&aposs the younger of the pair that&aposs already moved into management. The 37-year-old is the current manager of D.C. United and his time in America came after an almost two-year spell with Derby County

Rooney played for Everton, D.C. United and Derby after leaving United in 2017 and he became player-manager of the Rams in December 2020 with the club at the bottom of the Championship table and struggling financially.

Against the odds, Derby eventually survived relegation by the skin of their teeth, but Rooney was lauded for taking on such a challenge and galvanising a squad that looked destined for the drop before he took charge.

In the 2021/22 season after that, he was forced to extinguish fires at Pride Park as Derby had entered administration. The club had been given a 21-point deduction and that was ultimately a penalty too great to contend with.

Although taking the club down, Rooney still won admirers that season because his team finished just seven points adrift from safety, which meant they would have comfortably stayed up if not facing such a significant deduction.

“It&aposs a sad day. I&aposm sad, disappointed, upset, frustrated, but proud,” Rooney said after Derby&aposs relegation was confirmed. “I think the effort the lads and the staff have put in to try and galvanise the squad and the club, it&aposs been a lot of work put in.

“I&aposve been in football a long time as a player and now in management and to see that reaction when a club&aposs been relegated, I&aposve never seen it. So the fans know what everyone&aposs trying to do here and it&aposs a weird feeling.”

Rooney resigned as manager that summer and agreed to return to the States to manage his former club D.C United and although the American outfit continued to struggle in his first season, they have fared better in this campaign.

“I just think the hard work that weve put in over the last few months, and every player knows their roles when they come into the team. Were very organised and hard to beat,” said Rooney in May about the team&aposs improvement.

“I think thats showing in our performances in performing at a consistent level, and weve been unfortunate in the last two games to not come away with three points in both of them. So thats a bit frustrating, but Im pleased with how its going and with the performances. And we know that if we keep performing the way that we are then well pick up a lot more points.”

There are seven games remaining in the MLS season, but reports on Thursday suggested Rooney is now under consideration at Birmingham City, who were recently subject to a takeover from ambitious American owners.

“Youre always tempted,” Rooney told The Athletic in July when asked about returning to England and interest from Everton. “Its a club I love and want to do well. You look at it, you think of it Is it the right time to do that?

“Whats the impact if you go in and dont have the impact you feel you can? But on the flip side, whats the impact if you go in and really develop the club? I felt it wasnt the right time over the last year or two.

“But if anything like that comes up in future, what Ive built at Derby and DC United is all a development to help me make that decision easier. The stadium is coming and there needs to be some change to try and get that club back to where it can be.”

Rooney has been regularly linked to the Everton vacancy when it&aposs been available, but he said last year &aposthe only reason&apos he got into management was to manage Manchester United, which he &aposwill make happen&apos in the future.

Erik ten Hag is currently in charge at Old Trafford and there&aposs no sign of his reign coming to an end anytime soon, but perhaps in the future, Rooney&aposs ambition could be realised, providing he continues to make progress in management.

You&aposd be brave to bet against the fiercely driven Rooney not accomplishing what he set out to achieve.

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The transfer window will soon close and although United got their hands on three players well in advance of the September 1 deadline, with Rasmus Hojlund joining Mason Mount and Andre Onana at Old Trafford, activity has stalled since Hojlund&aposs announcement.

A goalkeeper, a midfielder and a striker were Erik ten Hag&aposs priorities heading into the summer window, but injuries early on in the season mean United are in need of further reinforcements.

Our team of experts will be on top of all the goings-on at Old Trafford for the remainder of the window and beyond, and you can get the latest updates and inside information to your phone by joining our new free WhatsApp community below.