Derby County centre-back Curtis Davies had said his side want to maintain their standards and finish the season on a high going into the summer period, making this revelation to the Rams’ media team following confirmation of their relegation to League One.
The East Midlands side were always facing an uphill battle following their points deductions earlier this term, suffering a 21-point sanction in total for their entrance into administration and previous financial misdemeanours.
But despite operating with a transfer embargo and a clear lack of squad depth, the second-tier strugglers fought back bravely and had taken themselves to 22nd spot in February, taking themselves above Peterborough United and Barnsley.
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At that point following a 1-0 victory against the former, they came within five points of Reading who were and still are in 21st place as things stand – but the Rams were unable to capitalise on their momentum as they struggled for form.
This led to their relegation being officially confirmed on Monday following their loss against Queens Park Rangers and the Royals’ draw against Swansea City, a real kick in the teeth for Derby who looked as though they were going to pull off the great escape just two months ago.
However, Davies and his side aren’t throwing in the towel yet as they look to finish the campaign on a high note in what would be a fitting end to a season full of on-field memories.
He said: “No one gave us a chance of staying up with the first points deduction, so when the second one came in November it was the impossible dream for us.
“We’ve taken it this far, and would have loved to have taken it further, which is a credit to us. We didn’t lie down or surrender, we have always kept trying, and that is the message we will take into the final three games.
“We want to end the season on a high to take into the summer with our pride and standards.”
Suffering heavy defeats now would taint what has been a positive season on the pitch for Wayne Rooney’s side despite their relegation, battling against the odds to win big games and impressing at Pride Park for much of the campaign.
Unfortunately, their away cost them in the end, but this is no real surprise considering how inexperienced sections of their squad are and this makes some of their performances even more remarkable.
The one thing they desperately need to do is stick to their principles and continue playing how Rooney wants them to play. If they can get positive results playing that way, that will give them plenty of confidence going into next term.
They may be dropping down a division next season, but as Sunderland have shown in recent years, getting back up at the first time of asking won’t be a walk in the park and this is why they need as much momentum as possible.
Some would argue that the scale of changes likely to be made in the summer mean these next few results are meaningless – but getting points on the board will only help to improve morale ahead of what could be a tricky and complicated next few months.