Wayne Rooney is so determined to cement ties with Derby fans that he has handed over his mobile number to them.
The Rams boss has suffered another crazy week at Pride Park as the administrators try to find a new owner for the stricken club.
Rooney and his team have almost done wonders so far, pulling the club within eight points of the safety zone, despite a 21-point cut.
And this week the EFL revealed they have been told by administrators that the club could be out of cash by the end of February.
Fans are so concerned that the club faced liquidation and there was much discussion at a supporters’ forum on Thursday evening about people struggling with their mental health.
But Rooney added: “I’ve contacted the supporters’ club and they now have my phone number. It’s good they have that direct line to me.”
“That is why this group of players and fans have come together. We’re trying to build a relationship between the players, the staff and those supporters.
“When I came in it was one of the things that I wanted to improve and I think you can see what the fans have given us this season.”
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He faced many difficult challenges in his playing career – making his debut for Everton as a teenager, playing for Manchester United in the Champions League, captaining England.
But the Rams boss believes what he’s doing at Pride Park is tops.
He said: “This has been my biggest challenge.
“It has been incredibly difficult at times. It has been emotional as staff members have lost their jobs.
“Ever since we have gone into administration, I have decided to approach this by taking the burden and pressure off the players and staff.
“I know he looked to me for guidance and the results and efforts the players have put in are incredible.
“You can’t blame them. They deserve a lot of praise for that and the staff that comes with a smile on the players’ faces everyday despite whatever is happening behind the scenes.
“It’s been tough. If we get the right people, this club can be great again.”
Rooney has lost key player Phil Jagielka back to parent club Stoke as the EFL imposed a transfer ban on the club meaning they cannot extend their loan contract.
And he sold Graeme Shinney to League One side Wigan while 18-year-old left-back Dylan Williams is leaving for Chelsea.
But Rams boss says no more players will leave the club during this transfer window.
And before facing tough rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday, he said: “There has been a lot of interest in our players. The credit goes to the players that the teams are seeing the potential and potential in our squad.
“Other teams are clearly seeing an opportunity to come and try to take some of these players out.
“But I’ve got assurances from the administrators that I don’t have to if I don’t want to lose a player.
“I let Dylan go after negotiating with him. He was only on a scholar contract because we could not offer him a pro contract because of the EFL ban.
“So the crazy thing is that his path to the first team would have been blocked if we had given him a pro contract. He would not have been allowed to play.
“His contract expired at the end of the season so it must have gone to a tribunal – but hopefully we got the right price for him.”
Rooney has been told by administrators that they expect to finalize a takeover next week, meaning he could sign some players before the window closes.
He laughed: “That would be cool!
“We have had plans for a long time, so it would be nice to execute some of those plans.
“But the most important thing is the survival of Derby County.”
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