• Mark Duffy

OPINION: Next Rams move needs sense not sensationalism

Derby County looking for a new manager isn't a rare occurrence.

Since Nigel Clough left the hot seat in 2013, seven permanent managers have taken the reins (eight if you include Darren Wassall's 18-game stint in 2016) with varying degrees of success if you gauge that depending on just how close they came to getting the Rams back to the Premier League.

None have done so, of course, albeit Steve McClaren and Frank Lampard came mighty close and Gary Rowett wasn't far off either, but as things stand the 'holy grail' as far as Rams fans have become concerned remains out of reach.

Rarely has that been more the case than this very season. At the time of writing, Derby sit rock bottom of the SkyBet Championship with only one win to their name, Dutchman Phillip Cocu having been the latest head coach to have tried and failed to mastermind an exit out of the Championship, ultimately ending up looking like he'd do just that but through the trapdoor rather than the skylight.

Reasons for Cocu's failure have been hotly debated but the bottom line was he wasn't the right fit for the Rams, perhaps the right man at the wrong time and not helped by several off-field challenges he wouldn't have foreseen when taking the job on in 2019.

Wayne Rooney is in temporary charge of the Rams. Photo: Derby County FC.

Cocu was, of course, the latest in a currently-short-but-potentially-growing line of 'big names' to have come through the door at Pride Park, the somewhat throwaway term 'big name' relating more to what they've done on the pitch rather than from the touchline.

And with current caretaker boss - and player - Wayne Rooney being another worldwide household name, the club's profile if not its league position continues to hold firm.

So who next? Bookies have John Terry and Rooney currently installed as favourites for the job (time will tell as to whether they may in fact work together) but there, with another big name, lies a lot more risk involved.

Frank Lampard was untried. His appointment was a gamble for both the club and for Lampard himself, but it was much more of an educated risk. Lampard is an erudite student of the game, who had worked under some of the world's best coaches and oozed the kind of qualities you'd want to see from a modern day manager. The gamble for Derby very nearly paid off as he took them to within 90 minutes of the Premier League and for Lampard you could argue that it certainly did as he ended up there anyway by taking over at Chelsea a few weeks later.

Cocu too arrived with an impressive playing CV but with some coaching highlights too, not least having won the top flight in Holland with PSV Eindhoven three times. Although perhaps surprising to see him try his hand in the Championship, inconsistent form, team selections and tactical indecision ultimately proved his downfall, albeit he left with a lot of sympathy from Rams fans.

Many Derby fans had sympathy for Phillip Cocu after his departure. Photo: Kristen Goodall.

Terry, of course, ticks the 'high-profile playing career' and 'household name' boxes but as a head coach, like Lampard, he's untried. He's had good experience as assistant to Dean Smith at Aston Villa, emerging victorious against Lampard on that day at Wembley, and clearly has managerial ambitions that will no doubt be realised one day.

But surely now is not the time to test his mettle, nor is it the place. This appointment is crucial for the Rams, with League One beckoning should things not considerably improve - an unthinkable prospect not too long ago.

Appointing Terry would again make the headlines but one can't help but feel that the task in hand needs someone with a 'been there, done that' feel to their CV, whether that relates specifically to pulling a struggling club clear of danger or with the experience of winning lots of games in the Championship and taking teams up.

There are names that fit that bill of course, although if you're to take the rest of the top five men most fancied by one bookie at the time of writing, only David Wagner has guided a team to promotion but Steve Cooper and Lee Johnson do at least have more experience behind them than Terry and Rooney.

The likes of Paul Cook, Sam Allardyce and Eddie Howe are all possibilities too and all, you fancy, would be welcomed by the fans given their respective track records.

However, as things stand the odds are on Terry or Rooney - or maybe even both together - taking the helm and with the inevitable interest that would once again follow the appointment of either, will come huge pressure on them to guide the Rams away from danger and then beyond. Derby fans know a football legend when they see one but any failure with their team as a manager will see any respect soon depart.

Who will be next through the door at Pride Park?

Rooney is the man in place now and that perhaps gives him the edge over Terry in some respects, but again, his unfamiliarity with being the man in charge could count against him in these trying times.

The impending takeover at Pride Park could of course play a part in any decisions too, that most likely being the main reason why a new permanent boss hasn't yet been announced, with any subsequent pot of cash for transfers in January likely to tempt any suitors. That said, the very same pot of cash might also be used to bring in a coach whose fee is that bit higher.

Steve McClaren's return in an 'upstairs' role has also strengthened the belief of many that a less experienced manager will get the job with the former Rams and England boss offering a hand of guidance. It remains to be seen whether that appointment will be one of McClaren's former England charges.