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Wayne Rooney rages at ‘disgraceful’ penalty decision as legend loses third straight game as Birmingham boss

Wayne Rooney was left fuming with a ‘disgraceful’ referee decision as the England legend’s winless start as Birmingham manager stretched to three games – and even Mike Dean agreed.

Rooney’s side were beaten 3-1 by Southampton on Saturday to make it three defeats in three games as Blues boss.

Rooney was not happy with the officials after his third defeat as Birmingham boss

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Rooney was not happy with the officials after his third defeat as Birmingham bossCredit: Getty

Fortunately for the coach, there were more positive scenes from supporters compared to their last outing, when an angry supporter told the former DC United manager to ‘f*** off back to America’ after a 2-0 defeat to Hull.

Against the Saints there was a more positive atmosphere, despite the result, due to Birmingham’s spirited second-half display at St Mary’s.

And Rooney feels his side might have come away with at least a share of the points had the officials done their job properly, with the visitors denied a clear penalty just before half-time.

Southampton struck early with Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Carlos Alcaraz putting the hosts 2-0 up inside 25 minutes – sparking chants of ‘sacked in the morning’ directed at Rooney from the Saints fans.

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But the Birmingham support got behind their new boss with their own chants of ‘Rooney, Rooney, Rooney’, and ‘Rooney’s blue army’, and they and the manager were soon up in arms over a clear penalty shout.

Oliver Burke won a header in the box but was then flattened by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu – but it was not given by the on-pitch officials.

Birmingham rallied after the break and pulled one back with a fine strike from Jay Stansfield – an inspired substitute from Rooney, finding the net just a minute after coming on the pitch – only for Adam Armstrong to wreck their chances of a comeback by scoring his eighth goal of the season in the 86th minute, sealing a 3-1 Southampton win.

Rooney was not happy with the referees, but was pleased with the promising signs from his team.

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Rooney's subs made a difference in the second-half as Birmingham fans saw positive signs from their team

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Rooney’s subs made a difference in the second-half as Birmingham fans saw positive signs from their teamCredit: Getty
Dean called the decision 'embarrassing'

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Dean called the decision ’embarrassing’Credit: Getty

“I think the decision on the penalty is an absolute disgrace, if I’m honest,” Rooney said after the game.

“The information we got from the fourth official was that it was ‘minimum contact’, which is crazy.

“Maybe if we had got that [decision] we go in at half-time ready to come out again even more, so we’re disappointed, but there were a lot of positives there.

“Southampton have got a coach who wants to play football and I said before the game that the teams that get out of this league are teams that play football. Russell [Martin] has had time to build that, and that’s where we want to get to.

“I thought we showed a different side of us today in terms of staying in the game, making it difficult. We kept going.”

Former Premier League referee Mike Dean was watching the game for Sky Sports and agreed it was ‘a penalty all day’ and a ‘poor decision’.

“It’s embarrassing to be fair, it’s just such a bad, bad decision,” he said.

Rooney thanked Birmingham fans for their support as the Blues faithful got behind their boss

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Rooney thanked Birmingham fans for their support as the Blues faithful got behind their bossCredit: Getty

“A Birmingham player has won a ball and the goalkeeper has smashed him in the back. It’s not even a hard decision, as much as I don’t like hammering refs and assistants, it’s just such a poor decision and an easy decision to give.

“The goalkeeper is nowhere near the ball, the player’s been wiped out, it’s a penalty all day. It’s just basic refereeing.”

Rooney got over the disappointment after the game to hail the travelling support and give them hope of a bright future for their club.

“I thought the fans were great,” said the manager.

“I get fans’ frustrations, 100 per cent. We were in sixth place, but also we were one game away from 12th – that’s the Championship, it’s a league that changes very quickly.

“Our job is to make sure we’re in a good position in the last couple of months of the season and then that will dictate what our goals are. But at the minute it’s about me trying to work with the team, with the players and trying to change a lot of things not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well, there are a lot of changes going on. 

“The future is bright but sometimes when you’re in a run of games like this, you might not feel that way. 

“But I thought the fans were excellent, they gave full sport to the players and there will be good times coming.”

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