Last night, after a poor run of form since the turn of the year, which has seen Derby drop out of play off contention, manager Steve McClaren was sacked for the second time in as many years.
McClaren was reappointed by Derby in October just seventeen months after he was sacked in May 2015. He was brought in to push Derby away from the relegation zone as they sat 20th, just over two months later and the Rams had gone on a ten match unbeaten run which saw them fly up the table, placed just outside the top six. They then ended the year with an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Wigan and began to drop back down in the table taking us to Friday where they were beaten 3-0 by Brighton meaning they had won just one of their last ten in all competitions, and were completely out of the play off race. After the performance at Brighton, which can be described only as awful and embarrassing, Derby owner and chairman Mel Morris was said to be ‘seething’ and soon, on Sunday night chose to end Steve McClaren’s second spell as Derby County manager.
Derby County Chairman and Owner Mel Morris on McClaren’s departure:
“Steve is a great coach, we have very talented players and first class facilities but the heartbeat, commitment, focus and passion has been lacking something fundamental.
“The Brighton game on Friday night was so far from what we expect to see from those wearing a Derby County shirt.
“To ensure we are on the right path, it is important to put the building blocks in place so we can develop a team we can all be proud of. Players should wear the shirt with pride and share, espouse and exude the qualities and values we believe are important to the club, its supporters and the community.
“We need a manager who shares our values and who is prepared to develop the team, staff and processes that will set us on course for a sustainable place in the Premier League. We are less concerned about timescales than we are about getting things right. Of course we would like to achieve this sooner rather than later.
“That manager will of course be given the full support and backing of myself, the board, our executive team and staff to shape and develop the team around those who truly and demonstrably want to be part of Derby County.”
Steve McClaren on departing Derby for the fourth time in his football career:
“As a player, assistant manager and twice as manager, I’ll always have an affection for the people of Derby who have always been good to me and my family during those times.
“I am sorry again I couldn’t finish the job I felt I had started and now it is for someone else to continue to take the club forward.
“My message to the fans is to say thank you again and for them to keep supporting this club on its inevitable rise back to the top.”
The sacking comes at a very unusual time as on Saturday the Rams take on East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. The club have confirmed a new boss will be appointed before the game, the hot favourite is Gary Rowett on whom betting to take the job has been suspended. It appears clear that the decision to sack McClaren yesterday was taken due to the growing worry that Rowett would be taken by Norwich who removed manager Alex Neil from his job on Friday.
Gary Rowett spent three years at Derby as a player in the late 90s, making over 100 appearances. In December, after taking Birmingham from the brink of relegation in 2014 to the play offs, Rowett was unfairly sacked and replaced by Gianfranco Zola as the Chinese owners looked for a new approach. The former Burton Albion boss who lives in Derby, has been out of work since. He won 39 of his 99 games in charge of Birmingham but is yet to work at a club with the financial backing of Derby. Rowett has been very versatile in terms of formation in his career, to date playing 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and even three at the back. The 43 year old, if appointed, looks likely to face a challenging summer with many hoping for a ruthless approach after players have been consistently poor in terms of performance this campaign.
In addition to a new manager, after Technical Director Chris Evans was axed, Derby are looking for someone to lead both recruitment and football operations. At the present moment this looks like it may come relatively soon as Derby look to bring in Reading Technical Director Brian Tevreden. Tevreden, 35, is a retired Dutch footballer and since quitting that aspect of the game he joined Ajax as a youth team coach before joining Reading in February 2016 initially as Head of International and Football Development before being promoted in April 2016. According to his current employers Reading, Derby are yet to make an approach to acquire his services.
After McClaren’s sacking, going into the East Midlands Derby both clubs look set to appoint new managers. It has today been reported that ex Brentford and Rangers boss Mark Warburton will be appointed as Forest boss. This would mean that, for the fifth meeting in a row, both sides will have different managers in the dugouts.
My personal opinion on the events as a whole are that though I’m not for the sacking of McClaren, I do believe it will, in the long run, benefit us. On Rowett, I’d be very happy if he was brought in, it would be a challenge, we would have to be patient but hopefully he can bring the good times back to Derby County, whether he does it by playing an attractive style of football I’m not at all bothered.
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