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Rooney goes back to basics in Rams rescue mission - Interview
Friday, 22nd Jan 2021 10:36 by Clive Whittingham

Wayne Rooney has all on rescuing a Derby team that struggles to score and tends to concede damaging late goals from a shock Championship relegation in his first managerial job - we spoke to James Hare from the 11 Points blog.

What has gone wrong for Derby this season on the pitch?

Where do I start… under Cocu at the start of the season it was the worst football I’ve seen us play for near enough a decade. A complete inability to create chances close to goal and to get players inside the area. It has picked up recently under Rooney (barring the atrocious defeat to Rotherham last time out), who has aimed to revert back to the basics before implementing anything too complicated.

Derby’s league results so far…
Derby 0-2 Reading Joao 40, Ejaria 45
Luton 2-1 Derby Berry 34, Clark 87 – Marriott 52
Derby 0-4 Blackburn Dolan 11, Johnson 12, 15, Armstrong 77
Norwich 0-1 Derby Rooney 87
Derby 0-1 Watford Pedro 76
Huddersfield 1-0 Derby Bacuna 53
Forest 1-1 Derby Taylor 64 – Waghorn 30
Derby 1-1 Cardiff Waghorn 24 – Moore 77
Bournemouth 1-1 Derby Riquelme 81 – Shinnie 13
Derby 0-1 QPR Bonne 87
Derby 0-2 Barnsley Chaplin 30, Adeboyejo 83
Bristol City 1-0 Derby Diedhiou 78
Middlesbrough 3-0 Derby Assombalonga 33, Clarke og 71, Johnson 83
Derby 1-1 Wycombe Holmes 36 – Bloomfield 81
Derby 1-1 Coventry Kazim-Richards 83 – Hamer 90
Millwall 0-1 Derby Knight 69
Brentford 0-0 Derby
Derby 0-0 Stoke
Derby 2-0 Swansea Kazim-Richards 4, Jozwiak 37
Derby 0-1 Preston Browne 90
Birmingham 0-4 Derby Bielik 15, Shinnie pen 17, Kazim-Richards 27, Knight 77
Sheff Wed 1-0 Derby Paterson 61
Derby 0-1 Rotherham Lindsay 86
Derby 1-0 Bournemouth Bielik 32

What’s happened to the promising kids who seemed to be cutting through at the end of last season?

It’s a mixed bag for the younger lads this season. Whilst Max Bird was arguably the pick of the bunch last season, he lost his place in midfield this season and has become a frequent name on the bench, but I think his time will come again soon. Jason Knight has been the main attraction this season, and is reportedly drawing interest from the Premier League. His energy is incredible and I’m convinced he’s the fittest player in the league, an incredible presser with good technical ability and general understanding – it’s a pleasure to have him play for your team. Buchanan at left back has had a good ‘breakthrough season’, and whilst he’s frequently rotated with Forsyth, he’s certainly one to watch and has already made his debut for the England U21’s. Finally, Louie Sibley has struggled to nail down his place in the side, but I don’t think there’s much doubting the talent he has, and I think most fans would rather him start than Waghorn.

What’s the current situation off the pitch, a suspiciously drawn out takeover and now even talk of administration?

That’s a good question and I wish I could tell you the answer. The Bin Zayed Group’s takeover has reportedly been imminent since November, and whilst nobody knows exactly what’s happening, the cash flow issues at the club are presumably halting progress. The club remains under a transfer embargo, and players haven’t been paid. The threat of administration could be a real one if a solution isn’t found soon, and I think the majority of fans now expect the takeover with this particular group to fall through – we’ll see.

Rooney seemed to engineer himself into the managerial role fairly successfully, team had obviously stopped playing for Cocu by the time we played you earlier this season. Now he’s got it, how do you feel about the appointment and how has he done so far?

I think everyone has been pleasantly surprised by the job Wazza’s done so far, despite our current league position. There was a fear that we were diving into a managerial vanity project when the club was in a perilous position, but the performances have undoubtedly improved and everyone seems to be behind him now. As already mentioned, he reverted back to the basics. Bringing Kazim-Richards into the side has given us a focal point up top, and is somebody who can hold the ball up and create. Our defensive record has much improved, and despite a mixed bag of results, it feels good to have the managerial situation resolved, at least. There’s no doubt that he’s been thrown right in at the deep end.

You seem to let players I quite like – Marriott now Holmes – leave without adequate replacement. What January business has been done, and is still to come?

The club’s cash flow problems have made it necessary to flog some of our players. Summer signing Mike te Wierik has returned to Groningen after only a handful of league appearances. Holmes and Marriott are two great players on their day but do struggle to find consistency. It’s a mix of getting players off the wage bill, and also getting a fee where possible (Holmes, for example, is out of contract in the summer). In terms of incomings, it’s hard to see any happening whilst we’re under embargo. That situation would have to be resolved ASAP, which seems unlikely right now, or we may have to look in the free agent market.

Summer Ins >>> Kamil Jozwiak, 22, LW, Lech Poznan, £3.8m >>> Nathan Byrne, 28, RB, Wigan, Undisclosed >>> Mike te Wierik, 28, CB, Groningen, Free >>> David Marshall, 35, GK, Wigan, Free >>> Emmanuel Idem, 21, GK, Canvey Island, Free >>> Jordan Ibe, 24, RW, Bournemouth, Free >>> Colin Kazim-Richards, 34, CF, Unattached, Free >>> Matt Clarke, 23, CB. Brighton, Loan

Summer Outs >>> Max Lowe, 23, LB, Sheff Utd, £10m* >>> Jayden Bogle, 20, RB, Sheff Utd, £10m* Mason Bennett, 24, AM, Millwall, Undisclosed >>> Chris Martin, 31, CF, Bristol City, Free Scott Malone, 29, LB, Millwall, Loan >>> Jonathan Mitchell, 25, GK, Northampton, Loan >>> Florian Jozefzoon, 29, RW, Rotherham, Loan >>> Henrich Ravas, 23, GK, Hartlepool, Loan >>> Jack Marriott, 29, CF, Sheff Wed, Loan >>> Ikechi Anya, 32, LM, Released >>> Tom Huddleston, 33, DM, Released

Winter Ins >>> N/A

Winter Outs >>> Mike te Wierik, 28, CB, Groningen, Undisclosed >>> Wayne Rooney, 35, CF, Retired

Where is the team strong and where is it weak?

Since Rooney took over as interim manager, we’ve conceded five goals in ten games, so we’ve been fairly solid defensively, but as you found out earlier this season we do have a tendency to throw away results late on. We’ve thrown a total of ten points away in the last 15 minutes of games, for example. Our best player is easily Krystian Bielik in midfield, who is a man mountain of a defensive midfielder and is a gem on the ball, too. Our issue, largely, has been scoring goals – 14 goals in 23 games this season says it all, and that figure was evenly recently inflated by our 0-4 away at Birmingham, which we followed up with two consecutive 1-0 losses to Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham.

Almost incredible I’ve got to ask this, but do you think you’ll stay up?

I really hope I don’t regret saying this, but I think we will. That could just be driven by blind optimism, but with Rooney in charge, and the quality that we do have in the squad in areas, I think we’re too good to go down. But you’re only as good as your league position, and there’s no doubting that we’re in a relegation battle. Fingers crossed, anyway.

Links >>> Official Website >>> Derby Telegraph – Local Press >>> Derby County Blog – Blog >>> DCFCFans – Forum >>> 11 Points – Blog

The Twitter @loftforwords, @11pts1win

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loftboy added 11:12 - Jan 22
Looking at some of his answers you have to ask why they aren’t top!!
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TacticalR added 14:36 - Jan 23
Thanks to James.

It sounds a pretty unstable situation with changing ownership and changing management. However, teams in crisis usually get a boost from QPR!
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