Derby Telegraph's Chief Football Writer Steve Nicholson gives the inside track on tonight's opponentsHow have fans taken to the shock return of Steve McClaren to Derby County?
There was surprise at first since they sacked him only 17 months ago. However, the Chairman, Mel Morris, liked the style of football that they played in his previous spell with the club. It was high tempo, attacking, and expansive and that is what the Chairman and fans enjoyed. There is always a mixed reaction when a new manager comes in, no manager is ever everyone’s first choice, but most Derby fans have been pleased to see him come back.
McClaren got off to a winning start on Saturday at home to Leeds United, how important was the win for him and the club?
It was the first home league win for six months. The fans at the iPro haven’t had much to cheer about lately. It was a big win for the team on Saturday. They got the goal and should have added to it but didn’t so it got a bit nervy. Leeds hit the post in added time but they held on and took the three points.
Steve Bruce said that Play-Offs were still the aim when he took over at Aston Villa earlier this month, are there any similar aims at the iPro?
When you are in the bottom three after 11 games the thing is to start winning games. At the moment the season must just be looked at in chunks of games. They need to walk before they can run and find a bit of consistency in terms of results to climb the table as soon as possible. Once they have done that then they can take stock of where they are.
It's a star-studded squad assembled at Derby, who will be the men to look out for tonight?
One of the problems so far this season has been the lack of form of some key players. Usually a team can carry a couple of out-of-form players but there have been six or seven key players at Derby struggling this season. Saying that Will Hughes and Jacob Butterfield are excellent players on the ball and there’s the pace of Ikechi Anya and Tom Ince on the flanks. Johnny Russell and Andreas Weimann can also play in those positions and, up front, Matej Vydra has scored plenty of goals at this level.
How do you see tonight's game panning out?
Steve McClaren said that he watched Brentford at Rotherham United and was impressed by the football. He knows Derby are going to have to be at their best if they want to win. They will have to do the basic things right and then go from there. I think Saturday did Derby a world of good. They are difficult to beat at home so I can see a home win.