Amidst all the turmoil surrounding the club this summer, it looks like Wayne Rooney may be able to get a tune out of Derby County after all.
The Rams have been forced to bring in free agents this summer due to restrictions imposed on them by the EFL after breaching multiple regulations, which led to the club being one of the favourites for relegation to League One this season.
But their start to the season has been a surprising one – and it could have been a lot better if they didn’t squander a 1-0 lead in stoppage time on Saturday to lose 2-1 against Peterborough United.
An opening day draw against Huddersfield Town and a 1-0 win at Hull City came before and after that loss to Posh, which means that they have had a better start to the season than many would have predicted – let’s take a look at three things we’ve learnt about County in the opening two weeks of the season
New recruits have a lot to offer
With Derby being heavily restricted in who they can sign this summer, Rooney has had to make do with signing trialists that perhaps would never have been looked at if the club weren’t under an embargo.
The early signs are good though. Ravel Morrison looks to have a bit of class about him and he may be finally ready to settle at a club at the age of 28, Ryan Allsop and Richard Stearman should provide some decent depth whilst the signings of Sam Baldock and Phil Jagielka were confirmed this week.
Jagielka was a rock at the back against Hull on his debut and Baldock, despite not scoring in 20 Championship matches for Reading last season, netted the winner from close range at the MKM Stadium.
Whilst in the long run these acquisitions may not make Derby a top half club, they could certainly be enough to steer them away from any fears of relegation on first impressions.
Quiz: Have Derby County won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
Stretton is ready to step up
Colin Kazim-Richards played a big role for Derby last season, but for the whole of the summer he has been the only senior striking option that Rooney has had to call upon.
He has now been struck down by a long-term achilles injury which made the Baldock signing a necessity, but young Jack Stretton showed against Peterborough that he’s got a big part to play this season.
The 19-year-old fired in eight goals in 10 games for Derby’s under-23’s last season in the Premier League 2 competition and also went on loan to Stockport County in the National League, where he netted three times in five outings.
Stretton clearly knows where the back of the net is and he showed that when he opened the scoring against Posh on Saturday – it’s a lot to ask of a teenager but this could really be a big season to show what he’s made of.
Wayne Rooney’s determination cannot be questioned
When Derby were going through a bad patch towards the end of last season, Wayne Rooney’s managerial skills were questioned by many and his head could have easily been on the chopping block if the Rams had succumbed to relegation.
With all that is going on at the club though it is a tough task for your first coaching role, but he has shown this summer that he’s completely determined to keep County out of another struggle.
The England legend revealed that he had been sleeping on his office sofa at the training ground as he was working day and night to try and get signings over the line – that’s the kind of thing that gets a squad playing for you so it should be no surprise to see that Derby ground out a victory against Hull this week and more of those performances are likely to follow.