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Mel Morris' managerial merry-go-round continues as Derby appoint a fifth manager in just over a year.

Tuesday 14th March 2017
The philosopher George Santayana once said: 'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.' It seems apparent that Derby County Chairman Mel Morris has never heeded that statement, or simply has just chosen to ignore it altogether.
Morris has already shown himself to be a man of very little patience during his two-year stint as chairman at Derby. The Chairman has decided to wield the axe once again to bring a premature end to Steve McClaren's second spell as Derby head coach. Just five months after re-appointing McClaren to the position earlier in the season.

The decision to relieve McClaren of his duties is probably a harsh one. However, it is not entirely shocking given that the chairman of the club has a tendency to make managerial changes at the first sign of a downturn in Derby's on-field fortunes. Unfortunately for McClaren, recent results for the Rams have certainly taken a nosedive. A run which has seen the club win only one of their last nine games. This has effectively ended the club's hopes of promotion to the Premier League for another season.

Word from McClaren's camp seems to indicate that the former England manager feels hard done by. Given the position of the club when he took over in November. Sitting in 21st place in the Championship table at the time of his re-appointment following the calamitous tenure of Nigel Pearson. It is doubtful that McClaren would have been expected to mount a promotion challenge as part of his remit for the season.

After making an excellent start to his reign, which saw the Rams rapidly rise up the table into the play-off places, evoking memories of McClaren's first season in his previous spell in charge at Pride Park where his side were unfortunate play-off final losers. Expectations for this season were likely raised again, and McClaren probably became a victim of  his own superb start to life during his second reign as Rams manager.
Had Derby made a steady rise up the table and sat in tenth place in the table, as they currently do, then Steve McClaren would likely still be in a job. Instead, the sharp downturn in form after the initially impressive climb into promotion contention would cost McClaren and leave Derby looking for their fourth manager in little over a year. A truly worrying statistic for Derby fans.

The next manager on the Mel Morris managerial merry-go-round is former Rams player and ex-Burton and Birmingham manager Gary Rowett. In what is likely to be a popular appointment amongst the Derby supporters.

Rowett seems to be well-liked and well-respected by his former players and fellow managers. After impressing in not always ideal conditions at Burton and Birmingham, two teams who did not possess the resources and financial muscle that he is likely to enjoy at Derby.

It will be intriguing to see whether Rowett can translate his success from his previous two jobs amid the considerably greater expectations he is likely to face as Derby manager. The actions of Mel Morris have made it abundantly clear that promotion to the Premier League is an absolute necessity. Perhaps reasonably given the financial backing he has given the club in his time as chairman - and anything else will be deemed a failure and result in a sacking.

Another big problem facing Rowett will be to try and reverse the mentality of a group of players that have frequently under-performed and wilted when faced with the pressures of sustaining a promotion push. For four seasons Derby has failed to get out of the Championship. While Mel Morris may have decided that to not be coincidental and rather the fault of the various former managers, the Derby players now have to be held accountable for failing to hold up their end of the bargain. It is reasonable to expect that a clear out of the playing staff is imminent over the summer transfer window. With many of the under-performing members on the squad needed to be jettisoned to try and remove the soft underbelly that Derby undoubtedly possess.

As baffling as it would be to happen at a mid-table second division side, reports of player power and senior players complaining about and undermining the two previous managers at Pride Park have emerged in the aftermath of Nigel Pearson and Steve McClaren's dismissals this season.

If true, it is a truly shocking reflection of the inner workings of the club. It also provides an insight into the psyche of a group of players that have proven themselves to be over-paid, insipid, and incapable of dealing with adversity when strength of character is needed to sustain a challenge for promotion to the Premier League.

New manager, Gary Rowett will have to redress the balance of the squad and stop the familiar failings of the current crop of players from rearing their ugly heads again. Stronger characters are needed, as is a killer instinct. Along with a winning mentality if Derby are to transform the on-field fortunes of the team. Rowett will have the time before the end of the season to get to know the current squad of players available to him and decide which players need to be moved on and which areas of the team need the necessary reinforcements to mould a team in his image and ensure the team is more adequately prepared to finish in the top six of the championship table next season.

The hope is that Gary Rowett will be given the sort of time that has not been afforded to his predecessors, to facilitate the environment for himself and for Derby County to succeed.

Recent history at Derby however, would suggest that the chances of that are highly unlikely, so long as Mel Morris gets to run this football club as he sees fit.
Michael Soloman
Journalist. Long-suffering Derby County fan, Lionel Messi and Barca bandwagon-er.

Total articles: 38

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