We Rams fans have been through the mill for some time. We had a manager (Nigel Clough) who was appointed from the lower leagues and actually did quite a good job. He had little financial backing and had to keep the team in the Championship by scavenging from the lower leagues and developing the Academy team.
In that aspect he did a really good job BUT and it is a big BUT, once he had put a team together that was the limit of his ability. Time after time Derby County gained the upper hand and threw it away by negativity. If Derby scored a goal then Nigel's response was to defend and he never wanted to push forward the advantage.
His negativity was almost legendary. He never seemed to have a promotion ambition, he only had a, let us not be relegated, ambition so Derby have stuttered forward for some years since Clough was appointed. Give him credit but let's get real because under Nigel we would never have reached the Premiership.
The Board were therefore dead right because they sacked him. Step forward Steve MacLaren. His CV is exemplary. Look, wherever you want, because football management is a precarious occupation, but Steve MacLaren is one helluva coach/manager. He was a respected No 2 to Jim Smith and he set up the Rams academy . He moved onto, would you believe Manchester United, where they then won the elusive treble.
Yes Steve was the first team trainer under Alex Ferguson when they won the treble. He then took on the England job which is a kiss of death and ended up with the 'wally with the brolly' jibe. He then took bloody Middlesborough to the UEFA Cup Final and then guided FC Twente in Holland where they became Dutch Champions for the first time in their history!
Suddenly he went wrong (was it money)? He joined FC Wolfsburg who amazingly had won the Budesliga the year before and could not repeat it so he next emerged at Nottingham Forest where he had apparently misjudged the 'situation'. Steve Maclaren then disappeared out of sight until he turned up as first team coach at QPR under no other than Harry Redknapp! No matter what you think about Harry he REALLY knows his football. If Steve MacLaren is chosen by 'Arry as his first team coach then he is a special coach.
Suddenly Derby County are fifth in the Championship! We are only half way through the season! The difference between the squad inherited from Nigel Clough comes down to three players. Steve signed Simon Dawkins (who?) and Kalifa Cisse (who?) and then loaned Andre Wisdom from Liverpool! We have recently signed Michael Keane from Manchester United who is widely expected to replace Rio Ferdinand but I cannot see how this talented central defender can replace Jake Buxton (ex Burton Albion).
Suddenly we are looking up and not looking down. The record of Steve Maclaren is already impressive but he will add to his record when the Rams get promoted this year. You heard it here first!