The vacant Derby County management position has been a hotly contested subject since Paul Clement was asked so abruptly to leave his post after a mere 8 months in charge. Like any managerial position in the football league, press and bookie speculation manically shift and slide as soon as a position becomes available. Three weeks later and the initial hysteria has died. So here’s a run down of the latest front running contenders, a few debatable opinions on each and what they offer and can do for our beloved club.
DAVID MOYES – 3/1
At the time of writing, David Moyes has replaced Nigel Pearson as the bookies’ joint favourite candidate to replace Paul Clement, despite Moyes describing his appearance at what would become Clement’s last game in charge as a “real coincidence“. After having a poor time at both Manchester United and Real Sociedad and with his reputation simultaneously ruined after being sacked, it is no surprise that Moyes is yet to find himself another management position at a club in any of the highest leagues. Due to these previous poor stints, most people have forgotten the superb job that he did at Everton. Not only this, but in the mere 51 games he was employed by Manchester United, he had a better win percentage than Sir Alex Ferguson (Moyes won 27/51 games, Ferguson won 23/51 games).
The main issue I raise with the potential employment of David Moyes is the style of football that he has a reputation of playing, which most definitely does not fit into the almighty “Derby Way” that Mel Morris has introduced. If he is employed, he is surely at serious risk of being condemned to the same fate as Paul Clement suffered when he did not abide by the “Derby Way” of fast Madrid-esque, free flowing football.
One major positive that I see in David Moyes is his focus on the youth of squads. This was a key component in his managerial positions at Manchester United and Everton; particularly the latter due to the obvious financial limitations of the club when compared to Manchester United. When he did have the funds at his disposal to buy the players he wanted, his decisions were still pretty good (I’m thinking of Fellaini and Tim Howard in particular). With the large transfer fees that Derby can pay nowadays, this could only be a positive should Moyes get the job.
However, he still isn’t my personal favourite candidate from the bookies’ managerial shortlist.
GARY ROWETT – 3/1
Rowett is my personal favourite of the names mentioned by the bookies and a new joint favourite candidate to get the job. Having been directly asked about the speculation that links him to the Rams management position, he did not completely deny that he would be interested in the job if approached: “Like I’ve said many times before, we’re incredibly focused on what we’re doing here. After losing our last game, all we’re focused on is to try and win the next one and continue this play-off charge.”
After the spectacular performances he has had with both Burton and Birmingham, exceeding expectations in both, I would really like to see what he could do with a large budget and a strong squad at the top of the Championship. He brings a level of managerial experience from his previous jobs, while also bringing a level of unknown due to the lack of promotion pressure at those jobs. If Mel Morris is to be believed in his statement that “Promotion is not the target”, a certain level of pressure would therefore be lifted from the shoulders of Mr Rowett.
The issue with employing him however, remains the same as David Moyes – The footballing style. We as fans have been led to believe that the reason for Clement’s departure was due to the team not playing with the philosophy set out by Mel Morris (The “Derby Way”) and if Rowett set out a Derby team as he has done with Birmingham, I am unsure as to whether he will remain in the good books of the chairman.
This further questions Mel Morris, and whether or not he believes that philosophy and style of play is more important than actual results.
NIGEL PEARSON – 4/1
Nigel Pearson is a potentially interesting proposition for Derby. He is well known for being a controversial figure since his role with Leicester and his various outbursts while in that job, which makes me believe that Pearson is the complete opposite to the character that Mel Morris actually wants to hire. It is clear, thanks to previous comments, that he would not be keen on hiring a manager that would stand up to him and not take very kindly to, let’s say Mel entering the dressing room for a post game chat. Pearson does not strike me as the kind of person who would back down to the chairman’s every whim and will, which could be an issue if the events that occurred during Clement’s tenure were repeated.
He created an incredible squad while he was in charge of Leicester, which is highly evident now they are at the peak of the Premier League table (at the time of writing). The issue seemed to be in how he made them play. Claudio Ranieri has not made many changes to Pearson’s Leicester team since his dramatic departure and yet they have gone from narrowly escaping relegation to being genuine title contenders.
This is what worries me about Derby potentially employing Pearson. Derby’s issue is definitely not in squad depth and in my opinion the only position that needs strengthening is the goalkeeper. We’ve seen what Pearson can do with a good squad in the Premier League, and it isn’t much. If we needed our squad to be built up, I think Pearson would be a superb appointment, but the focus needs to be on the way we play football rather than squad depth. In conclusion Pearson wouldn’t be the best of appointments.
GARRY MONK – 4/1
Monk’s another potentially great appointment. After his final full season in charge, Swansea finished 8th with a club record points total all while having the youngest manager in the history of the Premier League. Who could argue that he would be an interesting manager at the very least? His style of play his mostly an attractive one, which would also fit in with the famed “Derby Way”. Not only this, but his ability to build a squad on a budget is also clearly something to be admired. It’s also worth noting that a top 10 finish with a team such as Swansea is no mean feat.
A small point to note in his potential appointment would arguably be the fact that he is an Englishman. Not enough home grown managers are being given the chance at the big clubs, and he is definitely one of the best out there right now.
Having never managed at this level, I would be curious to see how his style of play carries over into our division and to see his influence shine on the younger fringe players at the Moor Farm Academy with eyes set on the first team squad.
DARREN WASSALL – 8/1
Despite Darren Wassall only being guaranteed the position of manager until the end of the season, he is also being touted as a potential candidate for the permanent role. After his first game in the job being a 1-0 defeat to the comparatively lowly MK Dons, he did not fill the Derby faithful with confidence and the football being played looked as though he had completely run out of ideas about how to win (or even draw) a match football match. This swiftly improved however, and the 3-1 victory against Brentford was an exhibition of the tenacity that this Derby side have when they are in the right mindset. The style of play looked greatly improved, and the match could be used to prove wrong any doubters of the side’s desire and passion to win.
I think the important thing that Mel Morris needs to learn, if certain reports are to be believed, is that he should leave the footballing side of the club to the people who know the game best – The professionals who are employed to manage the team. I don’t believe that it is right for a chairman to have any intervention in how the manager sets up his team, or how they play, or who the manager buys. Let’s face it, surely if Mel knew so much about football he could just be the manager himself? Derby has a strange tendency in sacking managers that won’t obey the chairman, and one of them went on to be fairly successful with another East Midlands team…
All odds taken from Sky Bet 22/02/2016