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Wayne Rooney set to take charge at Birmingham after Eustace is sacked

Wayne Rooney is poised for a swift return to management at Birmingham City. Rooney, who left DC United last weekend after failing to reach the Major League Soccer playoffs, has been lined up to succeed John Eustace at St Andrew’s following his sacking on Monday.

Birmingham’s chief executive officer, Garry Cook, is said to be the driver behind the deal to bring the former England captain to the club. Last year Cook, previously chief executive of Manchester City, was part of Chris Kirchner’s failed bid to buy Derby County, the last club Rooney managed in England.

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In a somewhat bizarre statement confirming Eustace’s departure on Monday morning, Birmingham said: “It is essential that the board of directors and the football management are fully aligned on the importance of implementing a winning mentality and a culture of ambition across the entire football club.”

Birmingham’s statement added Eustace’s successor would be “announced in the coming days”. After confirming his exit at DC United, Rooney said: “It’s the right time. I’ve done everything I can to get this club into the playoffs. It’s not a single thing that’s happened. It’s about timing. I’m going back with nothing lined up.”

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John Eustace leaves Birmingham having guided the club to sixth in the Championship this seasonJohn Eustace leaves Birmingham having guided the club to sixth in the Championship this season. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

The sacking of Eustace will rankle with much of the Birmingham fanbase, who widely credit the former Stoke and Watford midfielder with galvanising the club.

Eustace, who himself has been linked with the managerial vacancy at Rangers, departs with the club sixth in the Championship after an impressive start to the season, which continued with a 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Friday. Birmingham finished 17th last season.