Rooney aims to get Plymouth 'closer to Premier League'

Wayne Rooney smiles as he talks to the media
Wayne Rooney was in jovial mood as he met the press for the first time as Plymouth Argyle head coach [PA Media]

New Plymouth Argyle boss Wayne Rooney says he hopes he can guide them "closer to the Premier League".

The former England captain, 38, was appointed as the Championship club's head coach in May and began work at Home Park this week.

It is his first role since being sacked by Birmingham City in early January after just 15 games in charge.

Last November Argyle owner Simon Hallett outlined his ambitions to have the club competing at the top end of the Championship within the next five years.

The Pilgrims finished one point above the drop zone last season.

"We need to be clever in how we work," Rooney said.

"I’m not going to come out and say we’re going to be looking to get to the Premier League in a year’s time, we need to be realistic.

"What we're trying to do is build on what the club has done over the last five years, which has been rising and getting better.

"I think we need to keep moving forward and keep trying to improve and certainly improve on last season.

"Hopefully at the end of a timeframe which we have in, we can get closer to that Premier League."

'I don't want to become the next Gary Neville'

Wayne Rooney being a pundit
Wayne Rooney has been working as a pundit since leaving Birmingham City in January [Getty Images]

Rooney endured a difficult time at Birmingham City, and also had a relatively unspectacular spell in charge of Major League Soccer's DC United.

England's former record goalscorer began his managerial career at Derby County when the club was going through financial problems.

With Rooney having spent part of the summer as a BBC pundit at Euro 2024 and having had a lucrative playing career why did he decide to move to one of the farthest-flung clubs in England?

The answer, he says, is his love for the game.

"I don't want to become the next Gary Neville," he joked.

"I have a desire, a passion with football and a love for football and I've always had that.

"The last few months have been very strange for me. Since January it's been a real strange time being at home.

"I've done bits of TV work, but my real desire is to get back into management."

Argyle survived relegation straight back to League One on the final day of last season.

Having sacked head coach Ian Foster at the start of April they were under the caretaker guidance of director of football Neil Dewsnip and coach Kevin Nancekivell.

With the Pilgrims searching for a new coach, and a whole summer to work on a side, Rooney said it was a role he could not turn down.

"What I didn't want to do was go in somewhere again mid-season - I did that at DC United and again at Birmingham and straight away it becomes a lot more difficult to get the messages across and the point across and get the players to perform.

"So it was really important I went in somewhere and got the pre-season to start, and I was delighted that was the case here at Argyle.

"It's my love, it's what I know, it's what I want to do and without it for the few months which I had, I found that very difficult."

'I want to be an attacking coach'

Wayne Rooney managing Birmingham City at Plymouth Argyle
Wayne Rooney managed Birmingham City to a 3-3 draw at Plymouth Argyle just before Christmas [Rex Features]

Argyle's goalscoring dropped off under Foster's reign in the early part of the year but Rooney is determined for them to find their touch in front of goal again.

"I want to be an attacking coach, that's something I've always wanted to do, and to play entertaining football with control as well," he said.

"I think my teams have always been very well organised but we play good football and team football. Of course you want to score goals, that's what everyone wants to see, and my style of play and how we play is all aimed to do that.

"So it's a lot of work now to get that into the players over the next five or six weeks for the first game of the season.

"Normally pre-season over the years when I was training - it went from running on the beach to the first week you don't see the ball.

"Every day the players get the ball out and I think it's really important that they understand how you want to play positionally."

Plymouth open their 2024-25 Championship campaign with a visit to Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday, 11 August.