Derby County kick off 2020 with a clash against struggling Barnsley this evening, and all eyes will be on Wayne Rooney as Philip Cocu’s side look to come out tops.
The Manchester United legend is set to make his debut for The Rams this evening, five months after signing an 18-month contract to become a player-coach with the Championship side.
Derby missed out on Premier League promotion last term after losing the final of the Championship playoffs to Aston Villa, and will hope to get the job done this time around.
They haven’t been particularly impressive this season, though, winning just seven of their 25 league games so far, but they are only 10 points adrift of the playoffs spots, and they have a realistic chance of clinching one of the four berths.
Rooney’s arrival provides a huge boost to their promotion chances, and it will be interesting to see what the 34-year-old will bring to the table.
The former Everton star has spent the last five weeks in the dugout as part of Cocu’s staff, but he has been training with the rest of the squad as planned and has also been on a tailor-made fitness programme – a mini pre-season regime – in order to quickly get up to speed.
The ex-DC United man is expected to play in the middle of the park, and his creativity at creating chances and scoring goals will come handy for a side struggling in the final third.
Rooney finished his MLS career with 23 goals and 15 assists in 48 regular-season appearances, and he is bringing loads of experience and quality to the table, but will that be enough to finish in top-six?