Derby County remain on the lookout for a new manager following the departure of Phillip Cocu last week.
The Dutchman endured a turbulent time in charge of the Rams, after taking the reins from Frank Lampard at the start of 2019/20.
A hectic campaign followed, with Derby finishing 10th in the Championship and coming within only six points of the play-offs. A respectable finish, considering their off-field issues last term.
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This season has been a disappointing one for the Rams, though. They find themselves bottom of the Championship after 11 games, having only picked up one win thus far.
That ultimately culminated in Cocu’s departure, with the Dutchman leaving having won only 21 out of 65 games in charge, losing 26 times.
Cocu tried his best to turn around Derby’s fortunes, but it wasn’t to be in the end. A polite, respectable character, who struggled to fully adapt to life in English football.
Here, we take a look at two errors that perhaps led to his sacking at Derby…
Too much focus on style rather than substance
For large parts of Cocu’s tenure, we saw the Dutchman adopt a philosophy similar to fellow countrymen Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman. Slow attacking build-up, and patiently waiting for openings in front of goal.
His side failed to get to grips with that ethos, though, and ultimately find themselves sitting rock bottom of the Championship.
In six of Derby’s seven defeats in the Sky Bet Championship this season, the Rams have had more of the ball than their opposition, but despite dominating proceedings for the large part, their opponents have taken their chances when they have come their way.
For instance, in the 2-0 home defeat to Barnsley last time out, Derby had 71% of the ball over the course of the match, but an impressive Barnsley side took advantage, scoring twice either side of half-time.
Furthermore, in each of Derby’s seven defeats this season, they have conceded the first goal and have failed to respond. Cocu’s philosophy doesn’t rely on his side going out and scoring three or four goals, so they struggled to find their way back in games far too often.
Sometimes, style needs to go out the window. Results are so crucial in the Championship, as they are in any league, so it’s all about trying to find a way to win a game by any means possible.
Poor use of the loan market
Cocu’s predecessor – Frank Lampard – oversaw Derby reach a play-off final in his first season as a manager in 2018/19.
Lampard used his contacts to full effect, bringing in the likes of Harry Wilson, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori on loan, three players who played influential parts in their play-off surge.
Cocu failed to make the most of the loan market, though. Granted, they brought in Matt Clarke on loan from Brighton last season, and he impressed enough to earn a second loan spell at Pride Park.
But the likes of Kieran Dowell and Jamie Paterson failed to have anywhere near the sort of impact Mount and Wilson had on Brighton going forward, leaving Derby short of creativity and guile in midfield.