Derby County opted to part company with Phillip Cocu last weekend, with the Rams rooted to the foot of the Championship table.
Cocu was appointed on the back of Frank Lampard’s sole season at Pride Park and, in a turbulent 2019/20, he led the Rams to 10th in the table and six points off the play-off picture.
The football had been good, but the results weren’t quite there for a top-six side.
20 quiz questions about Derby County’s current squad that Rams fans should be getting correct
Onto 2020/21, then, where Cocu was tasked with mixing style and substance to get Derby into the play-off mix.
11 games into the season and Derby have won only once and sit rooted to the bottom of the table. Cocu lost his job on Saturday evening.
Here, we look to identify THREE words that sum up Cocu’s time with Derby…
This is the place to start as, ultimately, Cocu wasn’t consistent enough in terms of results.
Last year was a mixed bag, but there was enough there to build on. However, 2020/21 hasn’t been good enough.
A late win over Norwich City ahead of October’s international break should’ve given Derby the platform to build, but they haven’t won since.
It begs the question: How can a side beat an impressive Norwich team, but lose at Huddersfield and then suffer defeat in back-to-back home fixtures with QPR and Barnsley?
The consistency has just never been there.
One thing Cocu can look back on with pride is the way he’s promoted youth at Derby.
Nobody will ever forget Louie Sibley’s hat-trick at Millwall last season, with Max Bird and Jason Knight two other players that have emerged under the Dutchman’s watch.
Cocu might leave Derby bottom of the Championship table, but he’s blooded youth and set the Rams up for a bright future, with the club’s own at the heart of things.
Cocu will leave Derby with regret that it hasn’t worked out, but, deep down, he will be angry that he was never fully supported.
He was tasked with bringing through the kids and he did. He was tasked with losing key players in the transfer window without moaning, something else he managed.
Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle went last summer and Derby failed to reach agreements with players Cocu wanted to keep. Chris Martin and Tom Huddlestone weren’t signed up again, but Cocu never hit out in public. He remained dignified.
The transfer window just gone left him short of the attacking options to succeed in the Championship and, in the end, he was left leaning on the youth he’d promoted to perform beyond their years.
Cocu dealt with everything thrown his way at Derby like an ultimate professional, but he was never supported properly in building a squad.
Forget the likes of Krystian Bielik and Kamil Jozwiak coming in to bolster his squad and even the sensational, yet weird, signing of Wayne Rooney. Cocu was never given the backing to get it right.