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Phillip Cocus future, Wayne Rooneys role and why something has to change at Derby County – Derbyshire Live

Phillip Cocus future, Wayne Rooneys role and why something has to change at Derby County – Derbyshire Live

Derby County sit bottom of the Championship for the first time in 12 years.

Six points from 11 league games is a pitiful return and the manager, his coaching staff and the players have to accept a collective responsibility for the mess.

The Rams are not where they are by accident or by bad luck. Derby are there because they deserve to be.

Question is: How are they going to get out of the mess, how is the team going to move forward?

Something has to change.

Off the field, a takeover is imminent and could be completed in the coming week but there needs to be a spark on the field. That has not come so far this season, and this means the spotlight is burning on Phillip Cocu and his staff.

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It is widely accepted that Cocu has been dealt a number of difficult cards in his 16 months in charge and he could not attend the 2-0 defeat by Barnsley as he was having to self-isolate, another difficult card dealt. Despite all this he has handled tough situations with commendable and remarkable dignity.

Given that, there is an argument to say he deserves some more time to show he can guide Derby up the table.

For me, 12 to 15 games of a season usually provides a more clear indication of where a team is going or not going, but results ultimately decide a manager’s future and Cocu has not had enough good results, certainly not this season nor since early July as two wins in 17 league games shows. The axe tends to fall on such poor records.

Will he pay the price? Managers and coaches usually carry the can in times of struggle although the players need to take a long hard look at themselves.

Changing manager tends to be the simplistic call at times like this, although an expensive call. If a manager is to depart then whoever comes in has to be the right fit, a different voice and approach, somebody who can extract improvement from the same group of players. Finding such a person is not straightforward.

Nobody outside the inner circle will know what plans the prospective new owners have for the club. Will they have their own ideas on who should be manager, be it Cocu or somebody else?

This makes things more tricky to predict, but there is an urgency to dilute the uncertainty.

Will the two-week international break be a time for restoring some calmness or a time for change?

ROONEY’S ROLE

It is time Derby’s manager and coaching staff decided on where Wayne Rooney is most effective in the team.

Rooney has come in for criticism from some fans. Some believe he should not be in the starting 11, but the skipper has the quality to be in the side.

His best position, the role in which he can shape the play most effectively is in midfield.

From there, he can get on the ball and play short or long, he can dictate the tempo. This was seen last season, and it was seen against Barnsley when he moved back after starting the game as the No.9. The thinking behind the switch could be seen.

But has he got the legs to play midfield? The answer is to get legs around him, it is called balance.

The ‘9’ role in this team does not seem to suit Rooney, nor has it really worked for him as a ’10’ at Derby.

The ‘9’ position remains a thorn in Derby’s side because a focal point of the attack is key to the way Phillip Cocu has wanted to play.

Scotland international David Marshall playing for Wigan at Pride Park last season
(Image: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

RARE MISTAKE BY MARSHALL

Derby are struggling enough without gifting goals to opponents.

They started brightly against Barnsley, there was greater energy and urgency about their performance compared with the lethargic show in the first half against Queens Park Rangers a few days earlier.

Tom Lawrence was twice denied by Jack Walton before Rams keeper David Marshall, in trying to find Krystian Bielik, only picked out Conor Chaplin, who drove the ball back past Marshall to put the visitors ahead after 30 minutes.

It was a mistake, and a costly one, and tough on Marshall because he has been Derby’s best new signing, and best player so far this season along with Jason Knight.

TOOTHLESS IN ATTACK

Derby have failed to score more than once in any of their 13 games in all competitions this season.

Indeed, they have failed to score in seven of those matches including six of the eight home fixtures!

They have not won a home league game since June and their return of five goals in 11 Championship matches is not only the worst in the division but it is the second worst record in the three divisions of the Football League.

The stats are inescapable and proof, as it stands, Derby have not had enough craft and guile to open up and punish opponents.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the defeat by Barnsley was that by wasting a number of good situations in the second half the visitors gave Derby a chance to get back into the match. They were unable to accept that invitation and Barnsley substitute Victor Adeboyejo scored seven minutes from time to finish off the Rams.

Derby County’s Tom Lawrence (centre) battles for the ball Barnsley’s Michael Sollbauer (left) and Alex Mowatt

PROMISE PETERED OUT

The resilience shown in the win at Norwich, Derby’s only league win this season, was praised, and deservedly.

The performances in drawing away to Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth also earned applause as Derby took the game to both teams in the first half.

They pressed in those games, there were encouraging signs even though the team was unable to sustain it over 90 minutes.

Consecutive home games against Barnsley and Queens Park Rangers offered an opportunity to move forward, but results have fallen away again. Not what Cocu and his coaching staff needed in what always looked to be an important week.

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DERBY COUNTY: Marshall; Bielik, Davies, Clarke (Jozwiak, 46); Byrne, Shinnie (Sibley, 58), Knight, Buchanan; Waghorn, Lawrence (Kazim-Richards, 79), Rooney.

Subs: Roos (gk), Wisdom, Holmes, Bird.

BARNSLEY: Walton; Sollbauser, Helik, Andersen, Brittain, James (Kane, 60), Mowatt, Styles, Frieser (Adeboyejo, 77), Woodrow (Halme, 90), Chaplin.

Subs: Collins (gk), Odour, Thomas, Simoes

REFEREE: L Doughty (Lancashire)

SCORERS:

Chaplin (30) 0-1

Adeboyejo (83) 0-2

BOOKINGS:

Derby County: Byrne (45) foul on Chaplin; Jozwiak (53) foul on Styles; Sibley (90) foul on Kane;

Barnsley: Andersen (59) pulling back Jozwiak; Sollbauer (61) foul on Sibley;

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