In 2002, TV commentator Clive Tyldesley uttered the now-famous words ‘remember the name, Wayne Rooney’ as a fresh-faced teenager announced himself to the Everton fans on the Premier League stage.
Whilst many didn’t know it at the time, but the 16-year-old, a product of the Everton academy, would go onto break numerous records, including becoming the highest goal-getter for England.
Fast forward to today, and the 35-year-old could embark on his first managerial job with Derby County, who recently sacked the pretty underwhelming Phillip Cocu over the international break.
Rooney has since confirmed [Sky Sports] his desire to take the job full-time, and if Mel Morris hands him the reigns, then he should look towards his old stomping ground for some success.
Finch Farm will come a long way to unearth another talent like Rooney, but here are three Everton stars the player-manager should target in January if he becomes permanent boss:
Jarrad Branthwaite – The 18-year-old made his Premier League debut for the Toffees last season, and during that period, he impressed a certain Jamie Carragher, who labelled him ‘excellent’. A move to the Championship in the New Year would do him the world of good, especially for a side in need of quality at the back.
Only the two newly-promoted sides – Coventry (23 goals) and Wycombe (19) – have conceded more goals than Derby (17) this season and even then that’s perhaps the least worrying part of their problems.
Anthony Gordon – Another Everton teen who has had Premier League experience, and despite impressing in pockets last season, he finds himself struggling to get into the first-team picture.
A winger, who can operate on both flanks, Gordon would provide a much-needed intent, directness and drive on Derby’s flanks. The last time Derby were playing such free-flowing attacking football, they had loan players such as Harry Wilson and Mason Mount wrecking havoc, so such deals work. It’s just a case of the man in the dugout being backed.
Beni Baningime – Another top talent from Everton’s youth system, who played and trained alongside Rooney during his second stint at the club.
Whilst Derby are in need of some young talent at centre-back, some zip and fire in the attacking third, Baningime would perhaps be the least needed of the three because he operates more as a defensive-minded midfielder.
At, 22, he has experience in terms of age and Rooney would be familiar with how the player operates.
Either way, if picking one of the above, securing the services of someone like Gordon on-loan would be a clever piece of business from Derby. They need that pace and a fearless attitude in the attacking third if they are to get this pretty woeful season back on track.