LONDON • After a transatlantic flight to seal a return to English football as player-coach with Derby County, Wayne Rooney may already harbour hopes for a managerial role with Manchester United, according to his former teammate Rio Ferdinand.
The former United centre back revealed Rooney's management ambitions do not stop with the second-tier Championship side but possibly to take the Old Trafford hot seat after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Speaking as a pundit with British broadcaster BT Sport, Ferdinand said: "His endgame is managing Manchester United, 100 per cent.
"It's a fact. If he tells you any different, he's lying. He will want to do that."
Ferdinand, who won the Champions League and five Premier League titles in a trophy-laden spell at Old Trafford with Rooney, thinks the former England captain's career trajectory can mirror their former England teammate Frank Lampard, who left Derby to take over the reins at Chelsea recently.
Ferdinand, a former United captain himself, was recently linked with a technical director role at the Manchester side.
He said: "Only time will tell if Wayne's going to be the man to be able to do that. A lot of things have got to marry up for that to happen.
"Frank was (in) the right place, right time. Can that happen for Wayne? We'll see."
LOTS OF POTENTIAL TO SHINE
He's very, very clever when you talk about football, tactics, organisation, how to play and how to train. He was always extremely professional in training, the first on the pitch and the last to leave.
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON, former England coach.
When Louis van Gaal was manager, Ryan Giggs was analysing the opponents and I used to go in there a lot for a few hours after training. It's something which, when you're interested and have an open mind, you always speak to your teammates or coaches about it.
WAYNE ROONEY, on how he got interested in coaching.
Derby's new prized capture, Rooney has agreed an 18-month deal that begins in January after the record scorer for both Manchester United and England completes the Major League Soccer season with his current employers DC United.
Sven-Goran Eriksson, who gave Rooney his first England cap, said: "I think Rooney will be a very good coach and manager in the future. Rooney's a football man, a genius football man.
"He's very, very clever when you talk about football, tactics, organisation, how to play and how to train. He was always extremely professional in training, the first on the pitch and the last to leave."
Rooney's role at Derby will involve coaching as well as playing but he is adamant the emphasis will be on the latter, being careful to spell out that his coaching ambitions will not override his desire to be a student of manager Phillip Cocu.
"I feel I have a lot of quality I can bring to the squad so, first and foremost, I want to play and help the team," said Rooney as he sat beside Cocu, winner of three Dutch league titles with PSV Eindhoven.
The Dutchman, who oversaw a victory at Huddersfield on Monday in his first match in charge, professed to being excited by the recruitment coup, saying: "He's a star player with extreme quality. A great player and also experienced - this is something the whole team will benefit from.
"I am sure not only myself but also our staff can help (Rooney), to show him how we think about football, how we approach games, how we prepare training sessions and plan development for young players. A lot of aspects of coaching we can show him."
Rooney will be paid around £90,000 (S$151,400) a week and will wear a shirt bearing No. 32, which the player claims is "no big deal", despite it being part of the name of the online betting casino that signed a record sponsorship deal with Derby this month.
Rooney said he had been mulling a move into management for at least five years and started gaining hands-on experience while at Old Trafford.
"When Louis van Gaal was manager, Ryan Giggs was analysing the opponents and I used to go in there a lot for a few hours after training.
"It's something which, when you're interested and have an open mind, you always speak to your teammates or coaches about it."