Ever since that goal was scored by Bobby Zamora to send QPR up, and condemn Derby, in the 2013/14 Playoff Final, Derby have had a rough time of it.
The likes of McClaren (twice), Clement and Pearson have all tried, and failed, to get Derby up. Gary Rowett is the next ‘chosen one’ to guide them to the promised land, and might be the best placed manager so far to achieve it.
Rowett overachieved for years with both Burton Albion and Birmingham City.
In both cases money was tight so rather than resorting to transfers, he actually coached his teams to be a better side.
His promotion with Burton was remarkable, whilst his record at Birmingham was shown to be magnificent when after he left the club last season they slipped from 8th under Rowett to 20th in a matter of months.
Huge expectations rest upon his shoulders
However, he now has one factor he has never had at a club; expectation.
At Burton and Birmingham no one expected them to do well, everything was done under the radar and away from the spotlight. Every interview, every game, every signing will be scrutinised by the Derby faithful as the historic old club try to get back to the big time.
No major overhaul of the squad this summer, but the signings of Huddlestone and Davies stand out as particularly good ones. Both nicked from Championship rivals Hull they will provide the experience and know-how the get into the Premier League, plus their quality is still evident at this level.
It is easy to forget the quality they’ve already got as well. They boast a plethora of forwards capable of scoring goals, centrally and wide.
Losing Ince and Hughes to the Premier League will be a loss to them but the squad has been assembled over a long period of time, and Rowett has a squad deep enough to cover most positions.
The key addition this summer could be getting Chris Martin back from Fulham.
The decision to let him go on loan was bizarre from Pearson when in charge, seeing as he was the top scorer in the Championship during the last 4 seasons combined.
Promotion matter of when, not if
Derby County have been looking at promotion as a matter of when, not if, in the last few years. Under Rowett, with a good squad to work with and some sensible additions, this year could be one to remember for Pride Park.
Written by Dominic Mehlig
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