‘I haven’t even told Wayne this’ - Ethan Laird opens up on Rooney with terrific inside look at Birmingham City
Ethan Laird spoke to the media in depth about the impact of Wayne Rooney and the changes going on behind the scenes at Birmingham City.
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Birmingham City right-back Ethan Laird has opened up on the first few weeks under Wayne Rooney, his return from injury and the swift departure of former manager John Eustace. The former Manchester United defender believes the future is bright but patience will be needed to deliver the necessary results on the field.
Rooney very nearly earned his first victory as Birmingham boss on Saturday as his side took a surprise 2-0 lead over Championship title challengers Ipswich Town. Kieran McKenna’s men fought back, however, as they took advantage of the tiring legs of Blues’ defensive line. There was also an apparent lack of effort from the Birmingham substitutes.
Laird played brilliantly on his first start back since his hamstring injury and it was in fact the minute immediately after he was taken off that Ipswich scored their first goal, something that surely cannot go down as a complete coincidence. The Tractor Boys then went on to score another in the dying embers to snatch a point.
Just like the rest of his teammates and the thousands of supporters at St Andrew’s, Laird was devastated by the result but was thankful for the protection he gained. “It’s a shame because I thought we were the team that was on top. I felt we gave them a real problem with our press but that’s football, unfortunately,” Laird said post-match.
“I gave it my all, man. My legs were starting to leave me and the manager, he knows that me as a player, I’ll give all I can. They’re looking after me because obviously I don’t want another injury. I appreciate that from them because it’s nice to know the manager is looking after me,” Laird continued.
Plenty of change but it’ll be worth it, Laird claims
Birmingham’s failure to win again means it’s now just one point out of an available 12 to start for Rooney. It’s definitely not looking good on the surface but there was a certain improvement displayed against Ipswich and the results are bound to improve soon. Laird, who spoke in depth to the media, insists Rooney is a top tactician and brilliant man-manager.
“I think it’s been hard of course, because we had a manager in John Eustace who was with us and there was a real team chemistry. Obviously, the new gaffer, Wazza, came in and there’s been a lot of change. And it’s not just him – it’s the club as well. It’s a thing of getting back that chemistry and knowing our jobs.
“The gaffer has done a great job, honestly. I feel like the way he is – because he used to be a player – he speaks to us one-on-one. He’s trying to get us back to our confident selves and I think we showed that a little bit today. He’s been big on bravery – that’s one thing he’s always said – because he wants us to be brave on and off the ball.
“When we play off the ball, we’re going to run past that player, tackle that player and make sure we get those big tackles in, just like Wazza likes! That bravery is just one thing he’s trying to implement, even when things go wrong.
Nothing’s going to come like that, nothing happens overnight. It’s a process.
“We’re understanding certain things, even when stuff isn’t going right or to plan, we’re understanding why and I think that’s a big thing. Now we know how to correct it. It’s not easy but we’re going to get there. That’s the Championship for you, just got to keep going and get those points.
“I think it’s hard to change style, anyways. Obviously, for a team looking for quick turnarounds, it is hard but I feel like we’re doing the best we can. Nothing’s going to come like that, nothing happens overnight. It’s a process and I feel like we are getting there as a team. We just need to get back to the drawing board, see what went wrong, and hopefully we can better ourselves,” Laird continued.
Laird lifts lid on secret even Rooney doesn’t know
It isn’t just now that the right-back has been involved with his new manager as he recalls a memorable experience he had in his Man Utd youth days. The pair often shared the same field at Carrington Training Ground as Laird was given opportunities to work with the Red Devils senior team. It’s something he will never forget.
“I haven’t actually told Wayne this but when I was really young, a couple of us trained up. I must’ve been 15 or 16 and we went to the first team. As young kids, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh’, seeing all these stars. Obviously, Wazza was there and you could see from the off his mentality, putting in them tackles –he’s working hard.
“It was almost a bit scary for us kids because we were like, ‘Okay, this is the level’. It was something we could aspire to do and you can see it now as our manager. He was a player, he knows what to expect, and he just wants the hard work and bravery, putting in them tackles. Wazza wants us to work harder than the player against us,” Laird concluded.