Wayne Rooney returns to management as Plymouth manager

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England and Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has been appointed manager of English second-tier Championship side Plymouth Argyle, the club announced on Saturday.

The job is Rooney's first managerial role since being sacked by Birmingham City in January after a disastrous 15-game spell in charge of the Championship club. Birmingham would go on to be relegated and Rooney now joins the team that finished just one place above them, in 20th, to narrowly escape dropping down to League One.

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"Taking this role at Plymouth Argyle feels like the perfect next step in my career -- and I would like to thank the Chairman and Board for the faith they have shown in me," Rooney said in a statement.

"This is an opportunity to be part of an exciting project. I look forward to helping to build a squad of players to play expansive football -- and to entertain the Green Army."

He replaces Ian Foster, who was sacked in April after only three months as manager. Plymouth, who were in their first season back in the second tier since 2009-10, have never played in England's top division.

"I have experienced first-hand how talented the existing group of players is here -- and also the incredible atmosphere at Home Park. The club is on an exciting long-term journey, with a progressive plan in place. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it."

Rooney, 38, had inherited a Birmingham side that was in the Championship playoff zone under predecessor John Eustace, who was surprisingly dismissed in October.

However, he suffered four defeats in his first five games and was unable to arrest a slump that saw Birmingham slide down the table.

The former forward joined Birmingham after leaving his role as D.C. United head coach following their failure to qualify for the MLS playoffs at the end of the 2023 season. Rooney, who previously spent 18 months as a player with D.C., had rejoined the club as head coach in July 2022.

As a player, Rooney remains Manchester United's record goal scorer and struck a then-record 53 goals for the England national team. Prior to arriving in D.C., he coached Derby County in the Championship.