John Terry is a contender to be the next Derby manager, with key figures among the club’s prospective new owners impressed by the former England captain.
Terry has never been a No 1, but there are those close to Sheik Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan — near to completing a £60million takeover of the bottom club in the Championship — who believe Terry would be able to revive Derby’s fortunes.
The 39-year-old is part of Dean Smith’s coaching staff at Aston Villa but is keen to move into management.
Derby are currently led by Wayne Rooney, who heads a four-man interim coaching team, in charge since the sacking of Phillip Cocu in November.
Rooney is keen to take the job permanently but is happy to return to playing if he misses out on the job.
‘I’ve told (the players) to still call me “Wazza” for the time being,’ he smiled.
‘If I get the job on a long-term basis, they can call me what they want.’
Rooney admits he has been tapping into the experience of Steve McClaren as he looks to steer Derby away from danger.
Former Derby and England boss McClaren returned to the Championship club as technical director last week and Rooney said: ‘It’s been having great Steve in because it’s my first time doing this job.
‘I’m confident of doing it but of course… if I’m in doubt over anything then it’s great to have Steve there to bounce things off and get his experience.’
Derby sit bottom and Rooney has been using McClaren for a second opinion when he ‘overthinks’ certain decisions.
‘He’s been around the game for a long time,’ he added. ‘I’m confident how I set the team up, tactically, they’re my decisions… (but) there are a lot of other aspects to this job which you need to do to make sure everything is right, not just on the pitch but also off it.’
Rooney and Co remain in temporary charge while the prospective takeover of Sheikh Khaled drags on.
Rooney would also happily return to playing if he misses out but regardless, England’s record goalscorer needs to coax more threat out of a team with only six league goals this season.
‘I said today to the players: scoring goals is the hardest thing to do,’ Rooney added. ‘Sometimes you can overthink it.
‘It can be the small things, the simple things – making the box, putting the ball in… let the shots go, if you do that you’ve got more chance.’