Can Wayne Rooney be effective in the Championship?

It was certainly party time down at Pride Park Stadium once the news came in that Wayne Rooney had decided to sign an 18-month deal with Derby. Rams owner Mel Morris would have been cock-a-hoop at the news as the 62-year-old is known for his penchant for bringing in members of England’s Golden Generation onto his coaching staff.

Rooney will join Derby in a player-coach role but has insisted it is his ability with his boots and not his brain that he initially wants to make the biggest impact with. England’s all-time leading goalscorer with join up with the Rams in January at a time where manager Phillip Cocu will be hoping his side will be firmly in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League.

On the surface of it, it looks like a coup for Derby but by the time Rooney arrives at Pride Park after Christmas, he will be 34-years-old and definitely not the same player that lit up Old Trafford for season after season in his prime. Anyone watching the MLS would have seen the Liverpool born forward cutting a more rotund figure these days but that doesn’t look like it has affected his ability to put an energetic shift in for DC United.

To be perfectly fair to Rooney, the striker has never looked the most athletic out of any side he has played in but has almost always been the best player in it and really, you’d be forced to admit that even a Wayne Rooney, a few years out of date, will be a handful for Championship defenders to deal with.

As far as his American adventure has gone, since joining DC United last year, Rooney has been a key man for them and has shown he still has the technique and anticipation of a top player.

It’s shrewd timing by Derby as well given that by the time January comes and a team is in and around the promotion spots, all hands to the pump are needed as the bunfight for the untold riches in the Premier League intensifies on the home stretch. There is absolutely no doubt, having someone of Rooney’s experience within the changeroom during the charge to the Premier League will massively aid the Rams.

It’s equally beneficial for Rooney to come back to England and join Derby, especially when you consider the world of good it did for Frank Lampard’s prospects. From nowhere, Lampard went from Championship coach to managing Chelsea after he swapped the first decision for Europe where incredibly now, with Super Frank at the helm, the Blues are at 15/1 when you bet on UEFA Champions League winner. Indeed, Lampard’s managerial journey has been turbocharged thanks to serving his time at Derby and that potential path forward wouldn’t have been lost on Rooney.

Make no mistake, there will be an uneasy feeling amongst Derby’s promotion rivals as to what type of bounce Rooney could bring to the Rams after Christmas and similarly, there will be a bubbling expectation at Pride Park. On the balance of all the evidence at hand, Rooney’s arrival at Derby can only be a net gain for the club as they try to finally get promoted to the Premier League.