Written by Jack Hasler
Seventeen months after being sacked, Steve McClaren has been re-appointed as head coach by Derby County.
He is set to lead the clubs current coaching team as he aims to bring back the high octane football he oversaw in his first spell as Rams boss. McClaren left Derby in despair as he angered the clubs officials by not committing himself to Derby amid rumours of then Premier League side Newcastle’s interest. After being sacked, McClaren moved to the North-East as he was finally, after four months of persistent rumours, appointed as Newcastle United manager. Things didn’t go to plan for McClaren at St James’s as his side won just six of his 28 league games in charge, meaning ultimately he for many fans was to blame for their relegation.
At Derby, in his first season, McClaren changed Derby from a mid table side under Nigel Clough to a side who finished in third place, scoring the most goals in the league (84, plus another six in their play-off semi-final with Brighton) and missing out on promotion at Wembley where they dominated a QPR side who snatched a dramatic 1-0 win to return to the Premier League. Though this was a huge setback for the Rams, in the 2014-15 season, they continued their form and topped the table in March until Newcastle took McClaren’s mind off the task. Derby then won just two of McClaren’s final 13 games in charge, finishing the season with a 3-0 defeat at home to Reading ensuring they would miss out on a play-off place.
Since McClaren’s departure last year, Derby have had two official appointments, last season Paul Clement who was soon sacked and replaced by Darren Wassall for the remainder of the season. After losing in the play-off semi final against Hull, Derby began the search for a new boss and appointed ex Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson; this appointment didn’t go to plan as he was sacked on Saturday with only one league win to his name after a suspected row with Rams chairman and owner Mel Morris. Morris, who spoke just yesterday about McClaren in a club Q and A, was part of the team that made the decision to sack McClaren meaning the pair must build a relationship in order to become effective.
One certainty about Derby this season is that they’ve lacked goals (scoring only 3 in 9 games before Chris Powell took caretaker charge), in addition to his 52.4 win percentage, McClaren’s Rams who were renowned for their unity and skill were persistent goal scorers. In his last season at Derby, McClaren’s side scored 85 goals in 46 league games compared to just 72 in the 57 games since his departure.
Ironically, as in his first spell, his first match in charge will be at home to Leeds which they last time won 3-1. The Rams are also coming into this fixture with four points from their last two matches as caretaker boss and formerly Pearsons assistant Chris Powell, managed the Rams to a 2-0 win at Cardiff and a 1-1 draw at Reading. One question that may be asked is whether McClaren’s return means a return for Chris Martin who is currently on loan at Fulham (likely to only be eligible for a return in January when his loan ends, unless there is a recall clause in the deal) after an awful few months goal wise. But it was Mac who made Martin a fan favourite at Derby as he based the clubs flowing football around the Scotland international and if there is anyone who can bring him back to being his former self surely McClaren is the man. Chris Martin scored 40 in 80 appearances (all competitions) under McClaren, since he’s scored just 15 in 61.
My personal opinion on McClaren’s appointment in that as is any, it is a risk, we are going back to something that ultimately failed due to its success. Some Derby fans will be happy, others won’t, I’m in between the two; for what he did to us he could be seen as a traitor, though if he does bring back the free flowing football we endured in his first spell, I’m sure my opinion along with many others’ will change.
Welcome back Stevie Mac!
Derby fans, are you happy with this appointment? Let us know in the comments below!