Derby County manager Phillip Cocu could be out of a job if The Rams lose their next match - against Watford - on Friday, 16 October and player-coach Wayne Rooney is being lined up as their next boss.
The club’s mercurial owner Mel Morris has a reputation for hiring and firing managers in quick succession but he played down talk of Cocu being sacked.
Cocu on rumours his job is under threat 💬 “I didn’t see it. I didn’t read it. It’s wasted energy to talk about it. I speak with Mel and Stephen every day and talk about our project. I’m not going anywhere. I will do my job.”— Ryan Conway (@RJConway92) October 15, 2020
In an interview with TalkSport on Thursday, 15 October, Morris even went so far as to describe it as "fake news".
But Morris has sacked three managers since he took over Derby in September 2015 and many Rams fans believe he is tiring of Cocu’s excuses.
The Sun newspaper claimed the Dutchman was living on borrowed time and would be replaced with Rooney, who is also the club captain, if they lose at home to Watford.
Wayne Rooney. What a player pic.twitter.com/kSQ25PHMBm— Gary Gibson (@Gary_Gibson48) October 7, 2020
They also claimed Cocu - who played 200 games for Barcelona and won 101 caps for the Netherlands - would have been fired earlier this month but Rooney scored an 87th minute winner at Norwich with a stunning free kick.
Cocu said then: "As everyone knows our captain has great quality and he showed that with his free-kick. He had put in a lot a hard work for the team and we were about to take him off but I was certainly glad he was on the pitch when we were awarded the free-kick."
Rooney, 34, joined Derby earlier this year after a spell with DC United in the United States. He scored 183 goals in 393 games at Manchester United, where he was managed by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Rooney also scored a record 53 goals for England, playing his last game in 2018.
"There's fake news and then there's this." 👎— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) October 15, 2020
"We're not even close to discussions of that sort [Cocu's future]." ❌
"We're confident we have the plans in place to turn things around."#DCFC's Mel Morris laughs off reports that Wayne Rooney is about to replace Phillip Cocu. pic.twitter.com/nEuKZw1Y4o
He is thought to be keen to join his former England colleagues Stevie Gerrard and Frank Lampard and get into management.
Gerrard was appointed manager of Glasgow Rangers in June 2018 and has been given the task of winning them their first Scottish Premier League title since 2011. They take on their great rivals Celtic, the current champions, this weekend.
Lampard ironically started out in management with Derby in May 2018 but after only a year at Pride Park he was given the job of managing his old club, Chelsea, in the summer of 2019.