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Rooney and Championship rivals react as Derby survive final day relegation fight

The Championship’s final day didn’t disappoint in terms of drama.

The relegation picture had to be settled one way or another and in the end it’s Derby County who are celebrating survival.

The Rams’ pulsating 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday keeps them in the second tier by the skin of their teeth.

The stalemate sends Wednesday down to League One – for the third time in 18 years – whilst Rotherham’s 1-1 draw at Cardiff means they make an immediate return to the third tier.

For County boss Wayne Rooney, the relief was there for all to see in his post-match interview.

Wayne Rooney led Derby to Championship survival

“It was a roller-coaster! The 90 minutes today almost summed up our season,” said the beaming former England and Manchester United star.

“There were difficult moments but thankfully the season is done. We’ve done what we set out to do.

“I’m delighted for the players, they gave me everything. Today at half-time I spoke to them and said stay calm, there’s 45 minutes left.

“I’m just really pleased for them and also the fans. To the fans, we can get better. I can assure you of that.”

Rooney also referenced the ongoing confusion regarding the takeover at Derby.

He added: “It’s been a difficult season for everyone connected for the club and we need to get everything sorted off the pitch to get the club moving forward.

“We cannot have a season like we’ve just had, because it won’t end well.”

Derby’s joy was in stark contrast to their opponents Wednesday, who of course would have been safe had it not been for a six-point deduction handed down this season.

A dejected Barry Bannan after Sheffield Wednesday’s relegation was confirmed

Their boss Darren Moore has been battling Covid and pneumonia in recent weeks but made a return to the dugout in time for this crucial decider.

Speaking after his side were dumped out of the division, Moore said: “With all the setbacks we have had, we still maintained our focus.

“The points deduction was a huge factor earlier in the season but the players gave it everything.

“They left everything out there. This relegation needs to sink in.”

After joining Wednesday from Doncaster in March, Moore’s contract length was not disclosed. And despite remaining coy on that matter, he insists he is up for the job of putting together a promotion challenge next season.

The return to the dugout of Owls’ boss Darren Moore couldn’t make the difference for his side

“We knew the task of the job here, it’s one I’m committed too, it has whetted my appetite,” Moore added. “The focus and attention is to look forward now and move on. It’s an important summer ahead.”

Wednesday will be joining their South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham in the third tier next season.

An emotional Paul Warne, speaking directly after the draw that confirmed his side’s return to the third tier, said: “The players were absolutely dead on their feet. They made it unbelievably hard for a good Cardiff side.

“I can’t ask any more from my team.

“In an hour’s time if you asked me, I’ll probably be a lot more pleased with what we’ve done. But at this moment in time it’s just an absolute acid taste in my throat. It’s going to take a little bit of time to settle.”

Holding back tears, Warne added: “But emotionally, it’s been tough.”

Wycombe were almost forgotten by many, purely because of the size of their task.

The Chairboys needed a huge goal swing but did their best and pulled off a thoroughly impressive 3-0 win away at Middlesbrough.

Their manager Gareth Ainsworth says he is excited by the prospect of mounting another promotion push after a season where they almost achieved the unthinkable.

Ainsworth said: “I’ve got one hell of a group of players. We were eight or nine goals short of what we needed today!

“But it’s been an awesome season, I’ve enjoyed every single minute and I can’t wait to come back – because that squad is good enough to compete in the Championship. We’ll see what happens.”

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