WAYNE ROONEY is so determined to strengthen relationships with Derby fans he has handed out his mobile number to them.
The Rams boss has had to deal with yet another crazy week at Pride Park as administrators try to find a new owner for the stricken club.
Wayne Rooney has given his number out to Derby fans
Rooney and his team have worked a near miracle so far by pulling the club within eight points of the safety zone despite their whopping 21-point deduction.
And this week the EFL revealed they have been told by administrators the club could run out of cash by the end of February.
Fans are so worried that the club face liquidation and at a supporters’ forum on Thursday evening there was much talk about people struggling with their mental health.
But Rooney said: “I’ve made contact with the supporters’ club and they have my phone number now. It’s nice they have that direct line to me.
“That is why this group of players and fans have come together as one. We’re trying to build a relationship between players, staff and those supporters.
“It was one of the things I wanted to improve when I came in and I think you can see that with what the fans have given us this season.”
He has had to deal with a lot of tough challenges in his playing career – making his debut as a teenager for Everton, playing for Manchester United in the Champions League, captaining England.
But the Rams boss believes what he is going through at Pride Park tops the lot.
He said: “This has been my biggest challenge.
“It’s been incredibly tough at times. It’s been emotional because staff members have lost their jobs.
“Since we went into administration, I’ve decided to approach it by taking the burden and pressure away from the players and staff.
“I know they looked to me for guidance to lead them and the results and effort the players have put in has been incredible.
“You can’t fault them. They deserve a lot of praise for that and the staff who have come in with a smile on their face around the players everyday despite what is happening behind the scenes.
“It has been tough. If we get the right people in, this club could be great again.”
Rooney has lost key player Phil Jagielka back to parent club Stoke after the EFL stuck a transfer embargo on the club meaning they could not extend his loan contract.
And they also sold Graeme Shinnie to League One side Wigan while 18-year-old left-back Dylan Williams is leaving for Chelsea.
But the Rams boss says no further players will leave the club during this transfer window.
And ahead of facing bitter rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday, he said: “There has been a lot of interest in our players. It’s a credit to the players that teams are seeing the potential and ability in our squad.
Phil Jagielka had to go back to Stoke after the EFL slapped an embargo on Derby extending his loan
“Other teams are obviously seeing an opportunity to try to come on and nick some of these players.
“But I have had reassurances from the administrators that if I don’t want to lose a player I don’t have to.
“I let Dylan go after a conversation with him. He was only on a scholar contract because we couldn’t offer him a pro contract due to the EFL embargo.
“So the crazy thing is that his pathway to the first team would’ve been blocked had we given him a pro contract. He wouldn’t have been allowed to play.
“His contract was up at the end of the season so it would’ve gone to a tribunal – but hopefully we’ve got the right price for him.”
Rooney has been told by administrators that they hope to finalise a takeover next week, which would mean he could SIGN some players before the window shuts.
He laughed: “That would be nice!
“We’ve had plans in place for a long time so it would be good to execute some of those plans.
“But the most important thing is the survival of Derby County.”
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