Birmingham City v Hull City: Liam Rosenior on why his friendship with Wayne Rooney will last a lifetime

SHARED experiences and camaraderie amid times of adversity create friendships which last a lifetime.

For Liam Rosenior and Wayne Rooney, that certainly rings true. They did not operate in a conventional theatre of war at Derby County, but it was a battleground in its own way.

The duo - assistant manager and manager - forged an unbreakable bond during the most difficult of times as Derby fought for its football life amid a grim and chaotic backdrop of administration, points deductions, redundancies and relegation a couple of seasons ago.

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The fates have decreed that Rooney will step out for his first match in charge at St Andrew’s this evening with his former Rams’ number two Rosenior in the opposing dug-out. Thankfully, their current clubs are on safer ground.

Hull City coach Liam Rosenior. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Hull City coach Liam Rosenior. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Hull City coach Liam Rosenior. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The competitive juices will be flowing once the match gets under way, for sure. But expect a warm and genuine embrace at the final whistle, come what may. Their experiences transcend football.

Rosenior said: “I always speak about people first before what they have done. We know Wayne’s achievements as a player were magnificent and his achievements as a manager at Derby were incredible as well with the situation we were in.

"He’s a good man. We are close. He knows if he ever needs me, he can pick up the phone and I’ll be there for him and the same from him towards me.

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"When you start working with someone, you realise how aligned you are in the way you think and about life.

"We became really close as all the staff did at Derby. Not just with the coaching staff, but the club doctor, player liaison officer, kit man..

"We all had to muck in together because the club was going through turmoil.

"Wayne created that spirit - he is an outstanding man-manager who is going to go on and be a real success in his management career.”

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Rooney’s list of accomplishments as a player precede him. His honours - both individually and collectively at Manchester United - can fill the largest of trophy cabinets. His feats with England are also legion.

His greatness as a player is uncontestable. But alongside his outstanding talent, talk of him being a hot-head stalked him.

At times he didn’t help himself. From an expletive-laden goal celebration during a game at West Ham to sarcastic criticism of England supporters to a pointing camera after walking off following a World Cup match in South Africa.

Throw in a sending off in a quarter-final at the global tournament and a venting of spleen towards referees and a bit more besides.

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Speak to people who know Rooney the man and manager and the image of a more considered and calm individual refreshingly tells a different story.

Rosenior continued: "Wayne’s ability to be calm in certain situations and ability to take the pressure off players is ridiculous.

"And also smile at the right time and show trust in his leadership. I have taken it into my (managerial) life.

"I was really intense as an assistant manager and first-team coach. You don’t realise how it can spread through a group.

"I know he will be successful; hopefully not on Wednesday.”

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While Rooney is the current talk of the blue section of the second city, the individual whose name is being shouted from the rooftops on the claret and blue side is Oli Watkins, with his start to the season with Aston Villa having seen him score two hat-tricks.

Hull may be wary of the Rooney factor ahead of his Blues’ homecoming, but in terms of Watkins, the striker can provide inspiration for their forwards.

The Tigers head to the Midlands on the back of a weekend home defeat to Southampton. It was anything but a poor performance, quite the opposite, but the hosts let themselves down badly with their tardiness in front of goal.

Chances frustratingly came and went and there was little killer instinct. Unlike Watkins, whose clinical strike against West Ham on Sunday - when he buried a rising shot into the net - was noted by Rosenior.

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He continued: "I watched Oli Watkins' goal and showed the players that. He shifts it and strikes it. I watched his interview and he said he’s worked on that and improved in that aspect.

“We had 17 good moments - and I am taking chances versus Southampton. I showed the players every single one.

"Finish the action and trust yourself to take on the shot and if we do that, we will get more shots on target and hopefully get more goals.

"When you play academy football, you can create the perfect moment, but that level is a different intensity and you can 'chop’ (take on) a player and chop him again and get the perfect finish. It doesn’t happen in the Championship and Premier League.

"Our approach play to the final third was as good as you will see in the Championship. If we can get that next bit, we are exactly where I want us to be as a team.”