By Paul Jones
Russell Martin has praised Wayne Rooney’s management at Derby County and suggested if the England legend was all about ego, he would already have walked away from the crisis club.
Swansea City head coach Martin takes his team to the Championship’s bottom club hoping to inflict more misery on the Rams by collecting some much-needed points of their own.
Derby sit bottom of the table with a single point after having a 12-point deduction, with a further nine-point deduction still likely.
But far from throwing in the towel, former England captain Rooney has achieved two victories in his last three games and gained more respect and admiration from Rams fans in the last month, than he had in his previous 11-months in charge.
After deciding to stay and fight, despite the club being put into administration and ex-owner Mel Morris refusing to take his calls, Rooney has fuelled a sense of grievance that may prove difficult to deal with for visiting clubs, warned Martin.
“Wayne has dealt with their problems really well and galvansied them by being really honest about things,” said Martin.
“He has added some experience, which has improved them, and they have a siege mentality. They are really fighting for something.
“We have to go there and make sure that really doesn’t matter within the context of the game. They are a team that like to try and play. So, it will be another interesting game for us.
“But I am confident that if we play at the level we did last Saturday, then we can go there and get a result.”
Martin played against Rooney a number of times when Norwich City clashed with Manchester United and he said of the former striker, “I don’t know him personally. But he doesn’t seem to act like he’s a superstar or have a huge ego. I think if he had that, he would have walked away by now.
“I am pretty sure that when he took the job he didn’t plan for this. But in football, and in life, you get things chucked at you.
“He’s a resilient guy – we’ve seen that throughout his career – and he’s dealing with this situation very well.
“He’s said he’s going to stick by them because they gave him an opportunity. They are not in their current situation because of him, or the supporters. They are in it because the club has been mismanaged by others.
“The people who have been left to deal with it are Wayne, the players and the supporters. The fans now probably feel more affinity and connection with him than they ever have done before.
“They probably feel aggrieved and angry and it’s about turning those emotions into a strength. They are fighting for each other and so it’s up to us to go there and find a way to work around that.”
The midweek defeat at Fulham has left the Swans back in 19th place in the table and while they have only lost one league games in their last five, they only have one victory in that same period.
Their defensive record away from hope also needs improvement. In their last three away trips, they have conceded nine goals – three at Preston, three at Luton and three at Fulham.
Martin expects to make changes for the trip to Pride Park, and was hopeful of having at least one of Ryan Bennett and Michael Obafemi available.
Olivier Ntcham is set to miss out with a hamstring injury, while Rhys Williams is back in contention for selection.