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At this stage last season, Derby County were well off the EFL Championship playoff pace. After a run of one win in nine games, it was time to make a change and Steve McClaren was shown the doors and in came Gary Rowett.
Fast forward one year under Rowett, the club are sitting 5th in the standings and look set for a comfortable finish in the top-six. The Rams were even pushing for an automatic promotion spot not very long ago but results in recent weeks have hampered their chances.
Derby’s recent form may have been shaky but one thing is for certain – Rowett has hugely improved the club since taking over towards the back end of the last season.
He had nine games in the 2016/17 campaign to gauge the players that he had at his disposal, to get an idea of what he needed to do in order to improve the club’s fortunes going into the new season. Rowett managed to lead the Rams to a 9th place finish last time out and looks set to better it this time.
When Rowett took over at the Pride Park, the team looked like lacking the right balance. They could be brilliant with the ball but at the same time they did not lack the solidity and the structure needed when not in possession. That is needed to succeed at the Championship level. The consistency was missing and that ability to pick points up when not playing at their best was something that was non-existent.
However, after the 44-year-old took over, he has managed to address most of these aspects which have taken the club in the right direction. Derby have registered just 7 losses in 37 games so far in the Championship this term – only leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers have lost fewer games (6), highlighting the element of consistency in the side.
They have won two more games, scored 16 more goals, conceded two goals lesser and have 10 more points at this stage now than last time around. Their tally of 34 goals conceded is the third-best in the division, while only four teams have managed to score more than their tally of 55 goals this term. The wins against the likes of Norwich City, Leeds United earlier in the season highlighted the team’s doggedness and the ability to dig out results even when not in their elements.
Rowett’s ability to get the best out of the players has been another major positive from his year-long tenure at the Pride Park. Matej Vydra is back to his best after subpar displays under both Rowett’s predecessors – McClaren and Nigel Pearson and is leading the goalscoring charts in the Championship. The recruitment of experienced heads like Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley has strengthened the team to a great extent as well.
So far in his time at Derby, Rowett has overseen 49 games, leading the club to 21 wins and just 11 defeats, with a win percentage of 42.9.
The recent drop in the levels of performance indicates that there is still plenty of work to be done but the work that the 44-year old has put in over the last year is very much evident. And on the basis of this evidence, it would only be fair to say that Rowett is definitely the right man to lead the club in the future.