Two months following the re-appoint of Steve McClaren, Derby County sit seventh in the SkyBet Championship and only four points off third place Reading.
After a disappointing end to a topsy turvey 2015/16 campaign, Nigel Pearson was appointed as Manager in a bid to spark the dimming fire that McClaren had begun.
Pearson’s tenure was short lived and ended in an embarrassing manner for both Pearson and the club alike following a club investigation.
Chris Powell, Kevin Phillips and Pascal Zuberuhler all kept their jobs following the return of McClaren certainly a decision that most if not all supporters would agree with.
Phillips turned around Derby’s goal scoring issues when he was first added to the staff, Zuberuhler solidified the goalkeeping and Powell boasts a wealth of managerial experience.
A squad full of talent, experience and leadership so why do the Rams keeping coming up short of battling (as a main contender) for promotion.
Add Bradley Johnson, Jason Shackell, Scott Carson, Alex Pearce, Ikechi Anya, Matej Vydra, Jacob Butterfield and Marcus Olsson.
Over 2,500 appearances between them, four former captains, fans favourites, International caps, this group of players certainly can do something great.
So, what many Rams fans can’t believe is why the penny is yet to drop.
Maybe the current group were awaiting the right man management, the right tactics and style of play that suited them.
It was clear for all to see that Nigel Pearson counter attacking and 4-4-2 formation didn’t suit the high tempo, fast flowing nature of the team.
McClaren first introduced Derby to the 4-3-3 in his first spell in charge, a masterful move as it was almost an unknown style through the Championship so played straight into their hands.
Derby now boast the second-best defence in the league and are also beginning to find their touch in front of goal. One of the biggest issue when this season began.
As the fans will let you know, there could only be one reason for this
Masterful man-management, astute coaching. reminding the players that it’s not only them who make up the football club but the thirty thousand devoted fans who turn up week in week out.
As ridiculous as the saga was that resulted in McClaren being sacked before taking the Newcastle job, bridges had to be rebuilt between himself and the supporters he angered.
Despite numerous ex-footballers heading to social media to voice their opinions, it would be wildly amusing to see what they think about the situation now.
Busy all day today so just catching up with footie.
Steve McClaren! Again? 🤔
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) October 12, 2016
What’s going on at my old club derby county 😳😳 4th permanent manager of the year , now appoint mclaren … https://t.co/IJvckoziAf
— Robbie Savage (@RobbieSavage8) October 12, 2016
It now seems this is merely a thing of the past as Derby are ever so slightly heading back in the right direction towards the Premier League.
Not all performances are glorious, but McClaren has the players wanting to win, he offers them freedom on the pitch, something that was missing under Pearson.
Fans can now proudly sing the players’ names. The same players who two months ago, didn’t look remotely bothered about anything and all things football.
Currently amid an eight-game unbeaten run, Derby are somewhat quietly going about their business this year-round without the whole media shenanigans.
From twenty-second to seventh, things for Derby couldn’t be going smoother and with January just around the corner McClaren has never been shy of strengthening his squads.