Daily Mail

Vydra on target to boost Rowett

- JANINE SELF at Pride Park Stadium

THE journey from pundit’s chair back to the dug-out has been an unexpected one for Gary Rowett.

Derby’s new manager was inked in for a stint on Sky last night to say what he thinks about County and Queens Park Rangers. A penny for those thoughts now.

Sadly, Rowett is unlikely to reveal what is really going through his mind as he gets to grips with the job. A draw at Nottingham Forest a fortnight ago was a decent start and Matej Vydra’s third goal in four games last night is an equally decent return.

Forget the fact that the £8million forward’s strike halfway through the second half was a short-range rebound after Alex Smithies fumbled Tom Ince’s initial effort. Vydra is beginning to look like a finisher after two in two for Rowett.

Derby’s recent slump cost Steve McClaren his job but poke under the sorry statistics and a positive one immediatel­y jumps out.

County continue to be formidable at Pride Park. Of the four home defeats in the league this season, three were in September under the first manager of the campaign, Nigel Pearson. It gives Rowett a base on which to build.

QPR have come at it from the opposite direction, a relegation battle now a fading nightmare thanks to the rejuvenati­on of Rangers under Ian Holloway.

It will not have escaped Holloway’s notice that Derby dominated the match in terms of attacking chances against stubborn resistance.

Johnny Russell was certainly on a one-man mission to make the breakthrou­gh. The winger’s workrate has never been in question and he covered some hard yards last night. First he shot wide after a great run, then he was inches away from a Chris Baird cross and finally he glanced a header just wide. It was also Russell’s initial pass which led to the goal.

Rowett’s remit is to produce a high-intensity performing side who will challenge next season, which means most of the Derby players on view are also auditionin­g for their futures.

There is still a way to go.

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