The EFL Cup third round will see Premier League champions Manchester City host Chelsea while holders Liverpool will play League One Derby County at Anfield.

Erik ten Hag's Manchester United are set to welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford and there is another enticing all-Premier League clash between Nottingham Forest and Tottenham.

Brighton and Hove Albion will travel to Mikel Arteta's Arsenal as one of the seven games to feature two top-flight teams facing each other.

League Two Crawley knocked out Premier League Fulham on Tuesday, and they are rewarded with a visit to Championship outfit Burnley.

Meanwhile, last season's Europa League semi-finalists West Ham United will face second-tier Blackburn Rovers.

EFL Cup third-round draw in full:

Stevenage v Charlton, Leicester City v Newport County, West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers, Wolves v Leeds United, Nottingham Forest v Tottenham, Manchester United v Aston Villa, Bournemouth v Everton, Liverpool v Derby County, Burnley v Crawley Town, Bristol City v Lincoln City, Manchester City v Chelsea, MK Dons v Morecambe, Newcastle United v Crystal Palace, Southampton v Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal v Brighton and Hove Albion, Brentford v Gillingham.

Ties will be played week commencing November 7.

Wayne Rooney has moved to make former Manchester United midfielder Ravel Morrison his first international signing as D.C. United head coach.

Much-travelled Morrison scored four goals and assisted four more in 36 appearances playing under Rooney in the Championship last season.

A little over a week on from announcing the appointment of Rooney, who stepped down as Derby boss last month, United confirmed the arrival of free agent Morrison on Thursday.

The 29-year-old has signed for the MLS side until the end of the 2023 season, with the option of a further 12 months.

"Wayne worked closely with Ravel during his time as manager of Derby County," president of soccer operations Dave Kasper told United's official website. 

"Ravel is an incredible talent and his ability to create and score goals is impressive. 

"He has played at the highest levels during his career and his vision, creativity and ability on the ball will be a huge asset for us."

D.C. are the 13th different club of Jamaica international Morrison's career, which started in October 2010 when making his first of just three appearances for Man Utd's first team.

Chelsea have continued their boardroom reshuffle by appointing the Carolina Panthers' former president Tom Glick as the Blues' president of business.

Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital completed a £4.25billion takeover of Chelsea at the end of May, making numerous changes to start their tenure.

Blues president Bruce Buck departed, along with technical and performance advisor Petr Cech and director and chief decision-maker Marina Granovskaia.

While head coach Thomas Tuchel and Boehly are working together on transfer activity, Chelsea have acted by bringing in Glick, who has sizeable knowledge of English football.

The 30-year-old has worked as a former executive at Manchester City's parent company City Football Group, while playing a role in the Football League Board and the FA Council.

Prior to his role with City Football Group, Glick was Derby County's chief executive officer between 2008 and 2012, when the Rams were an established Premier League side.

Glick, who oversaw the creation of Major League Soccer team Charlotte FC, also has experience in the NFL, having held the presidential role with the Panthers.

"Tom's successful track record as a leader and innovator at several respected and winning sport organisations made him the obvious choice for this position," Boehly told the club's website after the appointment was announced.

"His skills and experience will be vital as we improve Chelsea FC's key infrastructure, expand the club's products and reputation, and find exciting new ways for our loyal supporters to engage with their favourite players."

Glick also outlined his reasons for taking the role, saying: "Chelsea FC is an iconic sports institution, known and admired all over the world. I have been very impressed with the vision and mission of Todd Boehly and Clearlake.

"They have the Chelsea community at the heart of everything they do. We have a huge opportunity here to enhance performance across the board, on behalf of everyone we serve."

Wayne Rooney hit out at criticism of his move to the United States, after he was announced as D.C. United's new head coach on Tuesday.

Rooney had previously played for United in 2018 and 2019 before leaving the franchise to join Derby County as a player coach in the Championship.

The 36-year-old kept Derby up after taking over from Phillip Cocu as permanent manager in January 2021 but relegation still loomed, remarkably finishing seven points from safety after a 21-point deduction at the start of last season.

Rooney believes coming back to the MLS to coach is not a backward step, but moreover, that his time at Derby County prepared him for this role.

"I've seen a few articles, certainly back in England, on this being a possible backward step in my managerial career," he said.

"I really find that a bit disrespectful to this league. I feel the experience I've gained at Derby County over the past 18 months has been great for my development as a coach, as a manager.

"To come here back to the MLS, back to D.C. United, was an exciting challenge for me - something which I feel can develop me as a coach."

United face an uphill battle to make the MLS playoffs, sitting nine points from seventh-placed FC Cincinnati in the Eastern Conference, despite two games in hand.

The four-time MLS Cup winners have been without a head coach since April and interim Chad Ashton's tenure reached a nadir last weekend, following a 7-0 defeat to Philadelphia Union.

Ashton will remain in charge until Rooney receives his work visa, but Rooney believes he is more than suited for the task at hand.

"The team need to improve, I think that's obvious for everyone to see," he said. "I really think with my capabilities of developing young players - of course we're working hard to get a few new players in - we can really get this club to successful ways again.

"I'm an ambitious person. One day I want to manage at the top level, and this is part of that process in terms of coming here and trying to develop this club, trying to get success here, but also develop myself as a manager."

Jamaica international Ravel Morrison will once again be on the move after announcing his departure from English club Derby County.

The 29-year-old former standout youth prospect signed with the then Championship club at the start of last summer, following his release by Dutch side ADO Den Haag.  The midfielder went on to have a decent campaign for derby, scoring 5 goals in 37 appearances.

Following the club’s relegation from the second division, however, a number of players and the team’s manager, former Manchester United star Wayne Rooney, have announced their departure.  The Reggae Boy confirmed his departure from Pride Park via social media platform Instagram.

Thank you @dcfcofficial all the players, staff & fans for making me feel at home, was a season full of ups and downs but was a real honour to be part of such a wonderful club," Morrison wrote.

"I wish everyone at the club success moving forward."

The player has had loan spells with Birmingham City, QPR, and Cardiff City and spells aboard with Lazio, Atlas, and Ostersund. He returned to Sheffield United in 2019 for a season, before another single season in the Netherlands concluded with him moving to the East Midlands.

Wayne Rooney has resigned as Derby County manager after a "rollercoaster" reign, the former Manchester United and England star said on Friday.

Rooney took his first role in management when he was appointed at Derby in November 2020, and faced a difficult challenge as the club were blighted by off-field issues.

Derby were relegated from the Championship at the end of last season after having 21 points deducted, 12 for entering administration and nine for historical financial breaches under former owner Mel Morris.

The Rams will be playing in the third tier for the first time since the 1985-86 season, yet Derby had hoped to keep Rooney.

American businessman Chris Kirchner expressed an interest in acquiring the club and was named preferred bidder by administrators in April, but he pulled out earlier in June.

Rooney, who was linked to Everton before Frank Lampard was named manager, says he has kept a close eye on Derby's ownership developments but has decided to resign.

"Over the course of the summer I have been closely following developments regarding the ownership of Derby County," Rooney said, in a statement released on the club's website.

"Today I met with the administrators to inform them of my decision that it was time for me to leave the club. In fairness to them, they tried tremendously hard to change my decision, but my mind was made up.

"My time at the club has been a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows, but I have to say that I have enjoyed the challenge. Personally, I feel the club now needs to be led by someone with fresh energy and not affected by the events that have happened over the last 18 months.

"I will remember my time at Derby with great pride and affection and would like to thank all my staff, players and of course the fans for their incredible support. I will never forget you and hope to see you all again in the near future and in happier times.

"Finally, I am aware that the club still have interested parties who wish to take over the running of the club. To them I say this, Derby County is a great club with a great history and great fans. I wish you all the best and much success for the future."

Ousmane Dembele's signing for Barcelona had become emblematic of Josep Maria Bartomeu's turbulent presidency.

An untenably ballooning wage bill saw the club face bankruptcy in the aftermath of Covid-19 restrictions and in a need to cut wages, the French attacker has become an expendable asset.

However, Dembele is reportedly determined to make keeping him at Barcelona more feasible, despite being set to leave at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – DEMBELE OPEN TO BARCELONA WAGE CUT

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Ousmane Dembele is prepared to reduce his salary in order to sign a new contract at Barcelona, Sport reports.

Dembele's agent Moussa Sissoko and the Barcelona board reportedly met and the assertion was made that the France international was willing to take a pay cut to continue playing under Xavi.

Return on investment has always lingered over the 24-year-old attacker following his €140million transfer from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. 

Dembele has provided one goal in all competitions this season for the Blaugrana, but leads the team in assists with 11 from 28 appearances.

 

ROUND-UP

- Roma are looking to the Premier League to bolster their squad for next season, with Granit Xhaka, Douglas Luiz and Nemanja Matic all being considered, Calciomercato reports.

- Barcelona are also keen to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski but no opening bid has been made yet, per Fabrizio Romano.

- The Athletic is reporting Manchester United are considering a £50m move for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

- Wayne Rooney has become to top candidate to replace the dismissed  Sean Dyche at Burnley on a permanent basis, according to the Sun.

Wayne Rooney suggested he would like to remain with Derby County in League One, saying he was proud of his team despite seeing their relegation from the Championship confirmed on Monday. 

The Rams will play in the third tier for the first time since the 1985-86 season after falling to a 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

That result, coupled with rivals Reading recovering from 4-1 down to earn a remarkable 4-4 draw with Swansea City, means Derby have been relegated with three games to play after a season fraught with crisis.

Derby have been deducted a total of 21 points this season – 12 for entering administration in September and nine for breaching the Football League's financial rules under former owner Mel Morris – and were unable to overcome that significant hurdle despite producing promising results on the pitch.

Asked for his initial thoughts after relegation was confirmed, former Manchester United and England captain Rooney said he was "proud" of his players' efforts and stressed the importance of the club's takeover being completed as quickly as possible.

"[I'm] proud," Rooney told Sky Sports. "It's a strange feeling because [despite] everything we've been through as a group, the lads on the pitch, the staff, the fans, the development of the team has been really positive.

"Yeah, we've been relegated, but I've never seen a team get relegated and have a reaction from their fans like that. I thought it was incredible, the support the fans gave the lads all season.

"Of course, I'm disappointed, sad, upset, but proud. In some ways, now we can draw a line under everything that's happened and really start the rebirth of this club and try to move the club forward.

"We need the takeover to happen, it has to happen quick. The quicker that happens, the quicker we can start to develop the squad and bring in players that can bring us back up."

Prospective owner Chris Kirchner is reported to be close to completing a deal for the Pride Park club, and Rooney hinted he wants the chance to lead the Rams back to the second tier if the takeover goes through.

"The takeover has to happen. If it doesn't then I fear for the club, I fear for where the club will end up," he added. "The club's future is in doubt and my future is in doubt if it doesn't happen, so it has to.

"If it does then I want to rebuild the club. You see what it means to the fans, it's a big club, a special club, and I want to be the one to try to bring those happy days back."

Derby would be sat in lower mid-table on 52 points if not for their points deductions, and Rooney expressed regret that his players had been penalised for off-pitch events.

"I feel for the players because we've picked up 52 points, and we'd be safe now in normal circumstances," he said. "We've paid the price for what the former owner has left behind.

"It's no one's fault, not mine, not the staff, not the players', it's no one's fault other than the previous owner. We're paying the price, and I'm sure it's a sad day for him as well."

Wayne Rooney considered links to the vacant Burnley job "a compliment", but he has reiterated his commitment to Derby County.

Derby manager Rooney was one of the names cited as a possible option for Burnley after the Premier League club sensationally sacked long-time boss Sean Dyche on Friday.

Dyche had overseen 425 matches in charge of the Clarets, including 258 in the Premier League. Only six other managers have taken in more games with a single club in the competition.

At nine years and 167 days, Dyche's tenure was the longest among Premier League coaches prior to his dismissal; Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool reign (six years and 189 days as of Friday) was a distant second.

Dyche leaves Burnley 18th in the top flight and four points from safety with eight games remaining, leaving little time to hire a replacement.

Burnley Under-23s coach Mike Jackson, supported by a staff including injured captain Ben Mee, will lead the first team at West Ham on Sunday, but Sam Allardyce has been linked with the post – along with Rooney.

The former Manchester United and England captain was also reported to be a candidate for boyhood club Everton before they appointed Frank Lampard, yet he remains for now at Derby, attempting to beat relegation from the Championship.

"I think it's a compliment to me and the staff, what we've been trying to do here," Rooney said after a 2-1 win over league-leading Fulham on Friday. "[It was] the same with Everton, when you get linked with Premier League clubs.

"I was surprised when I saw that Sean Dyche had been sacked, he's been brilliant for Burnley over the last 10 years.

"Obviously, I've seen the links, I've seen in the news, various news articles that I've been linked.

"But for me what's important is I focus on trying to keep this club in this division. And the future, my future depends on this takeover, that needs to be completed."

Wayne Rooney insisted his focus remains on Derby County but acknowledged he would "love" to manage Manchester United or Everton in future.

Rooney has overseen a tumultuous period at the Championship club, who were docked 21 points earlier this season due to financial mismanagement.

In the challenging circumstances at Pride Park, Rooney has excelled and the Rams are now just four points away from escaping the relegation zone with 16 games left.

Derby's survival hopes were boosted after both Peterborough United and Reading lost on Wednesday, while the former England striker was attending the premiere of his Amazon documentary, 'Rooney'.

His progress has already been noted by those at Goodison Park, with the 36-year-old claiming he turned down the opportunity to interview for the Everton manager's job last month as he did not want to walk away from Derby.

But Rooney would be open to joining one of his former clubs after he has navigated his current challenge with Derby.

"I didn't go to the [Everton] interview, which I was asked to go to," Rooney said on the red carpet at his film premiere. "I've always been one who likes a challenge and is willing to put the work in and fight.

"I've stood in front of my players and told them, 'I'm with you, trust me, I'm fighting with you'... what type of person would I be if, at the first opportunity, I left them?

"True to my word, I am fighting for the club. I am trying to get us out.

"And then Everton, Manchester United – two clubs close to my heart. Of course, one day I'd love to manage either of them clubs."

Derby cruised to a 3-1 victory over Hull City on Tuesday and next visit Middlesbrough, with Rooney believing his side's performances are resonating with the unwavering Rams support.

While he was overseeing yet another Championship victory, United were held to a 1-1 draw at lowly Burnley, but Rooney called for patience at his former club.

"I obviously haven't seen the [United] game – we [Derby] were playing. But I've seen the result and I think they're going through a tough period," he added.

"And you can see a few things off the pitch. It's a tough one. I think it's been going on for a while, if I'm being honest. These are things I brought up in 2010.

"They've tried everything. They've tried very experienced managers in Louis van Gaal. They've tried Jose Mourinho, David Moyes, Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] – one of their own – and now they've tried more of the 'professor' type in the new manager.

"I really think they need to bring someone in and give them time. Give them the opportunity to build the squad, let them compete and get back to the levels we all think they should be at."

Pressed on potentially becoming the United manager, Rooney replied: "As I've said before, Manchester United and Everton are both clubs I'd love to manage one day, but I've got a commitment to Derby County.

"I'm fighting for them, so my focus has to be on Derby."

Wayne Rooney believes he is already capable of managing a "top club" in the Premier League after his experiences at Derby County.

Rooney has been Derby boss since 2020 in a tumultuous period for the Championship club, who face financial difficulties that have put their future at risk.

In testing circumstances, former Manchester United and England captain Rooney has excelled.

Despite starting the 2021-22 season with a limited squad and then suffering a 21-point deduction, Derby retain survival hopes, now within seven points of safety.

Rooney was linked to the Everton job before Frank Lampard was appointed, but the former Goodison Park favourite rejected an approach to stay at Derby.

Even so, the 36-year-old foresees a big future for himself as a top-flight coach.

"Everything that has happened at Derby has made me think even more that I can have a good career in management," Rooney told the Daily Mail.

"I believe that 100 per cent. I believe we will stay up. I think I could go into the Premier League and manage at a top club now. I have no worries about that.

"I know what my strengths are and, more importantly, I know what my weaknesses are."

Rooney revealed his late-career stint in MLS with DC United was "almost training" to adapt to the standard of the Championship, "to almost get to understand that level of player more".

It is an approach that has paid off, although the situation at Derby has presented additional challenges.

"I was a bit disappointed because I saw Neil Warnock say I wouldn't get an easier job because there's no pressure," Rooney said. "If he came in here, he'd drive in, have a look around and drive straight back out."

Comparing the emotions of leading a team from the sidelines rather than on the pitch, Rooney added: "When you lose as a manager, it's worse than when you lose as a player, because you're making all the decisions.

"You think: 'Should I have played this player, should I have done this?' There's a lot going through your mind.

"But when you win a game as manager, it's better than when you won as a player."

Wayne Rooney has revealed the difficulty he had adapting to life as a Premier League superstar, which led to locking himself away to drink and "raging" on the football pitch.

Rooney, Manchester United and England's record goalscorer, is releasing a documentary on Amazon Prime.

And the now Derby County manager has discussed all aspects of his career, including how he struggled to deal with the pressure of playing for United.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Rooney said becoming a top player at a young age was "something I wasn't prepared for" after growing up in his council estate in Croxteth, "always getting into fights and arguments".

"It took a long time for me to get used to that and figure out how to deal with it," Rooney told the newspaper. "It was like being thrown in somewhere where you are just not comfortable. That was tough for me. 

"I had made a lot of mistakes when I was younger, some in the press and some not in the press, whether that's fighting or whatever.

"For me to deal with that, deal with stuff that was in the newspapers, deal with the manager at the time, deal with family at the time, was very difficult.

"In my early years at Manchester United, probably until we had my first son, Kai, I locked myself away really. I never went out. 

"There were times you'd get a couple of days off from football and I would actually lock myself away and just drink, to try to take all that away from my mind."

On the pitch, it meant playing with anger – although Rooney suggests that made him a better player.

"Early on in my career, I played with a lot more anger and picked up the odd red card," he said. "The anger was all the time when I was drinking, when I was having these moments. Still constantly in my head, I was raging. 

"When I learned to control it, it took that away from me. It was almost as if being right in my head took a bit away from my game. Not being right in my head gave me that added unpredictability."

Yet one notable example of a costly red card saw Rooney sent off for England in a World Cup quarter-final against Portugal, which ended in defeat on penalties.

United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo played a prominent role in appealing for Rooney's dismissal – for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho – and was famously then caught on camera winking to the Portugal bench.

While that incident prompted plenty of discussion as they returned to United, Rooney says: "After I was sent off in the World Cup quarter-final against Portugal and we lost on penalties, I got Ronaldo out into the tunnel. 

"I said: 'Listen, you're going to get a lot of stick from the press, I'm going to get a lot of stick from the press, my focus now is on Man United. There is no issue with me whatsoever, I would have done exactly the same trying to get England a win against Portugal and this is a big year for us and we have every chance of winning the league.'

"My attention, once we were out, completely flipped back to Manchester United.

"There was never any issue. I actually tried to get him booked in the first half for diving. I'm playing for England, he's playing for Portugal, do whatever you can to win."

Everton's managerial search is over, with Frank Lampard having agreed to take over at Goodison Park.

Lampard's appointment comes just over two weeks after Rafael Benitez, who managed the former England international at Chelsea, was sacked following a 2-1 defeat at Norwich City.

Everton lost to Aston Villa last week under the temporary stewardship of Duncan Ferguson, and sit 16th in the Premier League, just four points above the relegation zone.

There is no doubting Lampard has taken on a big job, unlike anything so far in his fledgling managerial career. 

He took Derby County to a play-off final in his first season in management in 2018-19, only to lose to Aston Villa. Then, Chelsea came calling, with the allure of his former club too strong to turn down.

Lampard's first season, in which he was unable to sign players due to a transfer ban imposed on Chelsea, saw the Blues reach the FA Cup final, where they lost to Arsenal, and qualify for the Champions League.

Big investment followed ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, but Lampard was unable to get the new signings to click and was dismissed in January 2021 with Chelsea ninth in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of the top.

While his replacement Thomas Tuchel went on to win the Champions League, Lampard has been out of management for just over a year. But now he is back, Stats Perform uses Opta data to assess what he might be able to bring to Everton.

OVERALL RECORD 

Lampard's win percentage stands at 48.2 across his two roles so far.

He oversaw 57 matches in all competitions at Derby, winning 24 and suffering 16 defeats for a win percentage of 42.1.

Lampard's Derby scored 90 goals and conceded 70 in return. Meanwhile, he had a 52.4 per cent win ratio while in charge of Chelsea.

Relying on youngsters such as Reece James, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham – as well as being able to call on Chelsea's more-experienced stars – the Blues netted 163 goals across 84 games, at an average of 1.9 per match.

Lampard won 44 matches in charge of the Blues, losing 23, while he had 17 draws (the exact same as at Derby), with his team conceding 106 times.

His Premier League record stands at 28 wins from 57 games, with 11 draws and 18 defeats. Chelsea had a top-flight win percentage of 49.12 and registered 1.67 points per game.

That win percentage would put Lampard well clear of any manager Everton have had in the Premier League era.

Indeed, Carlo Ancelotti – with a win percentage of 43.1 from 58 league matches – is Everton's best manager in that regard, with David Moyes (40.5) and Ronald Koeman (40.4) the only Toffees bosses to have won over 40 per cent of their games in charge in the competition.

In contrast, Benitez's win ratio of 26.3 per cent was better only than Mike Walker's (19.4).

 

HOW HIS TEAMS PLAY

Lampard liked to deploy a 4-3-3 shape in his Chelsea career, and with the deep resources he had at Stamford Bridge it was never a case of square pegs in round holes, as has been the case at times at Everton lately. He was often spoiled for choice and had players, such as Kai Havertz, who were able to be effective anywhere across midfield or the forward line.

Chelsea achieved 421 high turnovers in Lampard's 18-month first spell as a boss in the Premier League, with 61 of those resulting in them having a shot and five delivering a goal. Manchester City, Liverpool and Southampton managed more over the same period, but Chelsea did well in this area. This season, Everton are low achievers when it comes to such turnovers. Only Newcastle United (127) and Watford (128) have had fewer than Everton (132), while Lampard's new side are one of just four not to score from a high turnover in the Premier League this term (together with Aston Villa, Norwich City and Burnley). It is asking a lot to transform a team in mid-season, but Lampard will want extra effort in this area.

Benitez tended to favour a 4-2-3-1 shape at Everton, but Lampard will likely revert to the shape he knows best, with the squad he inherits looking ripe for a shake-up.

 

POSSIBLE SIGNINGS

Time is running out for Lampard to make a major dent in the transfer market, but you can bet that will be a priority for the new boss before the window closes on Monday.

Reports have already indicated midfield will be a priority, with Manchester United bench-warmer Donny van de Beek close to arriving on loan, while Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley have both been linked with their former boss, along with Tottenham's Dele Alli, who seems in need of a fresh start.

Those are four major talents, who since the beginning of last season have started a mere 67 Premier League games between them (Loftus-Cheek, 29 for Chelsea and Fulham; Barkley, 19 for Chelsea and Aston Villa; Alli, 15 for Spurs; Van de Beek 4 for United) and contributed only seven goals and five assists in the competition.

Signing any one of those would be putting a lot of trust in past glories, which many would suggest is exactly the same punt Everton are taking with Lampard himself.

Wayne Rooney turned down an interview for the manager job at Everton in order to commit to Derby County's bid for Championship survival.

The former Manchester United and England captain said there was an approach from his boyhood club to his agent asking if he would discuss the prospect of taking over at Goodison Park.

The Toffees, who sacked Rafael Benitez after just over six months in charge two weeks ago, have yet to appoint a permanent successor.

Although Rooney is convinced he will manage in the Premier League in future, he took the "difficult decision" to decline talks with Everton as he wants to see through Derby's attempt to avoid relegation to the third tier.

"Everton approached my agent and asked me to interview for the vacant job, which I turned down," he said on Friday.

"They got in touch with my agent, my agent let the administrators know as well, and yes of course it was a difficult decision for me [to turn it down].

"I believe I will be a Premier League manager. I believe I'm ready for that, 100 per cent. And if that is with Everton one day in the future, that would be absolutely great. But I've got a job here that I'm doing at Derby County, which is an important job to me."

Rooney, who progressed through Everton's academy and rejoined the club in 2017 after 15 years at United, initially took on a player-coach role at Derby after Phillip Cocu was sacked in November 2020, with the club bottom of the Championship. He retired from playing to take on the permanent manager job in January last year and steered them to survival on the final day of the season.

Derby were hit with a 21-point deduction for 2021-22 after going into administration and admitting a breach of English Football League accounting rules, but while the future of the club remains uncertain, Rooney has overseen an almost miraculous battle against relegation, with eight wins and 11 draws from 27 matches leaving them a relatively modest eight points from safety.

Everton dismissed Benitez following a defeat to Norwich City left them six points above the Premier League drop zone. According to reports, their final three candidates are caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson, former Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard and ex-Porto and Fenerbahce boss Vitor Pereira.

Duncan Ferguson hailed the work Wayne Rooney has done at Derby County as the former England captain acknowledged he is "flattered" by reports of Everton's interest.

Rooney, England's record goalscorer who had two spells at boyhood club Everton either side his trophy-laden stint at Manchester United, moved into management in 2020 at Derby, where he played out his final year as a player.

In his first half season at the club, Rooney kept Derby up on the final day. However, the Championship club's financial woes came to a head in September when they filed for administration, which was subsequently followed by a 12-point deduction and then a further nine-point penalty.

Yet against the odds, Rooney has Derby off the foot of the table and eight points from safety. 

Everton, meanwhile, sacked Rafael Benitez on Sunday after a defeat to lowly Norwich City capped a dismal run of just one win in 13 Premier League games. They sit 16th, six points above the relegation zone.

 

Ferguson, as he did in 2019 before Carlo Ancelotti arrived, has taken interim charge and will oversee Saturday's clash with Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa, but Rooney – along with Frank Lampard and Fabio Cannavaro – is a reported candidate, with Belgium having rebuffed an approach for Roberto Martinez.

Asked about the rumours during Friday's media conference ahead of Derby's contest with rivals Nottingham Forest, Rooney said: "I'm the same as everyone else. I see the speculation on social media and in the papers.

"Of course, Everton is a club I grew up supporting and I'm flattered to be brought up in those conversations. But I know Everton will know for them to have any communication with me, they have to go through the administrators.

"I think it's all hearsay as there has been no approach. My focus is on Derby."

Rooney was brought up in Ferguson's own media conference, and the Scot said: "I'm not going to drag on too many names who would be a good fit, but certainly Wayne's done very well at Derby, he's an Evertonian.

"He could be one candidate of many and he's proved himself as a very good manager."

 

Ferguson – who revealed Real Madrid manager Ancelotti had contacted him this week to offer advice – was pressed on whether he would like the opportunity to manage Everton.

"Maybe, down the line, one day – I always dream about becoming Everton manager – but I've not quite got that experience," he answered.

"My job at the moment is to take the upcoming games, steady the ship and the club will go through a process of identifying the new manager. 

"You never know in football, but my job at the moment is to focus on the next game and that's it. 

"We need a winning manager. A manager who can come and win games of football, build something and get us back up the league."

Everton have taken just five points in their last 12 Premier League matches (W1 D2 L9), the fewest in a 12-game span since earning four points between August and October 1994, and asked about Benitez's departure, Ferguson replied: "I think the results weren't there, we weren't too surprised, I don't think Rafa would be too surprised."

Saturday's game with Villa has plenty of side stories. Liverpool great Gerrard was on the winning side against Everton more often than he was against any other opponent in the Premier League (16), while Lucas Digne is returning to Goodison Park just over a week after he left due to a falling out with Benitez.

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