Ex-Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick will go from friends to foes when Birmingham take on Middlesbrough.
The former Red Devils captain was appointed as Blues boss on Wednesday, less than a week after his mutual departure from DC United, replacing the sacked John Eustace.
Rooney has a big task on his hands as he returns to managing in English football falling his spell with Derby County.
Eustace guided the Blues up to the play-off places in the Championship, finishing his reign with a 3-1 victory over West Brom to sum up a promising start to the campaign.
But as Rooney hopes to carry Eustace’s impressive form on, he’ll also be having to go head-to-head with a former teammate in his first game in charge – Middlesbrough boss Carrick.
Birmingham travel to Boro in their first game following the international break, with Carrick aiming to lead his side to promotion this season following last term’s run to the play-offs.
Carrick’s Boro currently sit 16th in the table, a much lower ranking than fans expected ahead of the campaign. However, the ex-Man United star has been a hit in the North East after taking Boro from being one point off the relegation zone last October to finishing fourth.
That’s an achievement that Rooney would certainly be pleased to reach this season, with the man he passed the Man United captain’s armband on to and played with between 2006 and 2017 already demonstrating how to make an impact in the Championship.
The pair have carried on their strong relationship off the pitch since their respective departures from Old Trafford.
Carrick revealed he had called on Rooney for advice on signing Lewis O’Brien who had been on loan at DC United with Rooney from Nottingham Forest.
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It’s clear Rooney has the same respect for the man he won major titles including five Premier Leagues, a Champions League and four Community Shields with.
“He is obviously a great friend and a great player,” Man United great Rooney told MEN Sport when Carrick retired in 2018.
“Many people will say that he is underrated but to the lads in the dressing room, we knew his qualities and what he brought to the team. His passing ability and calming influence were a big part in us being so successful.
“He’s a great lad, a great person. I shared many moments with him outside of football, at dinner or playing golf, so I’ve continued to see him. He’s a friend I will have for a long time.”
That bond will likely go out the window when the pair get down to business for Rooney’s trip to the Riverside Stadium.
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