Former Aston Villa and Arsenal forward Paul Merson believes Birmingham’s appointment of Wayne Rooney is already paying off.
Not because the former Manchester United and England star’s arrival has seen the St Andrew’s outfit suddenly emerge as promotion candidates. Rooney has, after all, lost all three of the games he’s taken charge of ahead of today’s Championship fixture against Ipswich.
Rather, according to Merse - who is a regular on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday - it’s because the five-times Premier League and Champions League winner is generating huge interest in the club.
The ex-Arsenal great said that’s a serious goal of modern owners when they go after ‘marquee’ managerial appointments. And he compared recent events at St Andrew’s to that currently unfolding at Birmingham’s Championship rivals Bristol City.
Despite the likes of recently sacked Birmingham manager John Eustace and current Oxford boss Liam Manning being strong contenders for the vacant managerial position at Ashton Gate, it’s Rooney’s former England team-mate Frank Lampard who is the clear favourite according to the bookies.
Speaking on Soccer Saturday, Merson said: ‘Nigel (Pearson) was doing a great job (at Bristol City) and this is what happens. All of a sudden the owner goes: “Look at Birmingham. Everybody’s mentioning Birmingham now, Wayne Rooney’s the manager, nobody mentions Bristol City. Now I’m going to get Frank Lampard and there’ll be headlines”.
‘This is what happens. The owners get these players in, these big names. We talk about Birmingham now. Birmingham have lost their third or second game on the trot, but I’m (now) looking at Birmingham’s results. I’ve never looked at Birmingham’s result, now I’m looking because Wayne Rooney’s the manager.
‘Talk doesn’t get you promotion, but what they want is the marquee signing’