Wayne Rooney says Everton never reached out about coaching job


PALM DESERT, Calif. – Everton’s hiring of Sean Dyche as manager on Monday ended speculation that the English Premier League club could target DC United manager Wayne Rooney, who has deep ties to the Toffees.

Rooney’s name came up regularly in English circles before and after Frank Lampard was sacked last week, and Rooney has said he would like to be a Premier League manager one day. On Monday, however, he said he was never approached by Everton.

“It’s the club I grew up supporting and loving,” he said. “They are going through a very difficult period in the history of the club and they thought they had to change. Sean Dyche is very experienced. It was always going to be an experienced manager.”

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Dyche, who was sacked by Burnley last spring after a 10-year spell, signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Everton, who are 19th in the 20-team league and in danger of relegation for the first time since from 1954.

Rooney joined Everton’s youth academy at the age of 9 and signed a pro contract at the age of 16. He played two seasons for the first team before moving to Manchester United, where he achieved superstardom, then returned to Everton in 2017. A year later, he signed with DC United as a player for 1½ seasons.

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Rooney’s contract as manager at DC United is only guaranteed through this season – he took over last summer – and includes a club option for 2024.

“It was what I felt was right,” he said of the short-term deal. “There were questions I wanted the owners to answer: What players could we bring in and make sure I had what I wanted to build the team?

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Asked if he got what he wanted this off-season, Rooney said: “You always want more. The players we brought in, I’m happy. I am confident that we will have a good season and hopefully we will get one or two players before [the transfer window closes this spring]. If not, we can see where we are in the middle of the season,” when the summer window opens.

He added, “We’re still looking, but with the budget the way it works, we’re looking for the right player in the right position.”

Klich’s arrival is imminent

Mateusz Klich, United’s prized winter signing from Premier League club Leeds, is scheduled to receive his work visa and join the club this week, Rooney said.

Klich, a striker, signed for United on January 12 and met his new team-mates in Washington but had to return to Europe while the visa process unfolded.

Klich is scheduled to make his preseason debut next Monday against MLS Cup champion Los Angeles FC at the Coachella Valley Invitational in Indio, Calif., Rooney said. Rooney added that Klich has continued to train with Leeds’ fitness trainers while he waits for the visa process to be resolved.

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United will open the Coachella tournament on Wednesday with a 90-minute match against Charlotte FC and a 45-minute session against Vancouver.

Rooney said he will play multiple regulars 75 minutes against Charlotte, then field the reserves, who will then play the full 45 against the Whitecaps.

Several players are unavailable, including four quarterbacks: Steven Birnbaum (illness), Derrick Williams (thigh), Donovan Pines (recovering from hernia surgery) and Brendan Hines-Ike (foot surgery). Williams, a projected starter acquired from the Los Angeles Galaxy in the offseason, is out for several weeks, Rooney said.

On Wednesday, Matai Akinmboni, 16, will partner in central defense with Andy Najar, a right-back and full-back.

Najar, who is battling with Brazilian newcomer Ruan for the starting right-back job, has been “brilliant in pre-season”, Rooney said.

Midfielder Victor Palsson, who can play at centre-back, is a week away from returning from a thigh injury.

The goalkeeper’s situation is unclear

Alex Bono, one of three young goalies on the roster, is slated to start the Charlotte game, Rooney said. Tyler Miller – who, like Bono, signed a free agent contract this winter – started last week’s 3-2 loss to the Galaxy in Carson, California.

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Luis Zamudio, who played for second-tier Loudoun United last year, is scheduled to play against Vancouver.

“I want everybody to have a good time in the first two or three games so I can get a good look at them and then make a decision” on who will start the season opener Feb. 25 against Toronto FC, said Rooney. “They have all trained very well. They’re pushing each other, so that’s what I wanted.”

Midfielder Ravel Morrison, who followed Rooney to United from Derby County last summer, could be on his way out.

“He’s talking to the club,” Rooney said. “He’s been training well, but I know there are some conversations about what we do in the future.” …

Former Vancouver coach Carl Robinson is close to signing a contract to join the staff as an assistant, Rooney said.

“I felt it was important to have another coach who knows the league, and obviously he has coaching experience,” Rooney said. “I’ve spoken to him a few times this winter and he’s been really good.” …

Midfielder Alex Nagy, a draft pick last winter who signed with Loudoun United this month, is training with the first team and could earn an MLS contract. …

Midfielder Aidan Rocha, a second-round draft pick out of Georgetown, remains in camp. …

Ignacio “Nacho” Alem, a 16-year-old striker from the youth academy, is also in camp and could become a local signing target this year.


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