GARY NEEDS TIME TO SORT OUT SOFT RAMS
GARY Rowett is a talented manager, but I think it might take him a couple of years to change the mentality at Derby. I saw the Rams lose 3-0 at Brighton in Steve McClaren’s last game. He was sitting just in front of me and he left the stand after about six minutes. Even at that stage, they looked disjointed. Any one of that starting XI could get into most Championship sides. I bet training is absolutely brilliant. Great tempo, great keep-balls and five-a-sides. But, come match day, they have such a soft underbelly. They get knocked over very easily. You saw in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Forest that Achilles heel of failing to see a game out. Yes, Chris Martin has been a big miss. Why they let him join Fulham is anyone’s guess. He was the only striker they had who liked to come short and link play. I guarantee McClaren would have had him back in August and I’d be surprised if Gary, inset, didn’t, either. But the bigger issue seems to be one of mentality. Before the Brighton game, Derby weren’t mathematically out of play-off contention, but it looked like they were on their holidays. Gary won’t allow that. I think he’ll want to sign more leaders and characters. But there will be players on decent contracts. Big names who want to stay put. As with Steve Bruce at Aston Villa, it could take a couple of windows to sort out. Nevertheless, Gary comes in with real pedigree. He’s done well wherever money is tight. That tells you he’s had to work on shape, organisation and man-management. At Burton and Birmingham, his sides were well organised and difficult to beat. Recently, Derby have been disorganised and easy to beat. Defensively, I expect to see improvement in the final eight games. The speed of Gary’s appointment should give him confidence. Clearly, there was nobody else in the frame. Give him a decent budget in the summer and Derby will make strides.