Derby County striker Martyn Waghorn netted a brace at Stoke City on Saturday, ensuring that the Rams kept their unbeaten start to the season.
Phillip Cocu’s side went ahead early on, but found themselves trailing 2-1 with half an hour left to play. Derby got their second of the game as did Waghorn as they left the Bet365 Stadium with a point.
Despite scoring early, the first-half certainly wasn’t one of the Rams’ best as they failed to get a foothold in the game.
Cocu decided to switch it up ahead of the second-half and brought on a third centre-back, Krystian Bielik, who changed the game for the Rams.
The extra defender allowed Derby the time to play out from the back, creating space for wing-backs Max Lowe and Florian Jozefzoon on either side.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, Waghorn said: “I think the kind of pressure we were under in the first half didn’t allow us to get a foothold in the game – to play out and get going.
“So I think the extra man at the back in Krystian gave us that extra body there to play out and play through the lines.
“We had Max and Flo pushing on forward, which kind of gave us a bit of space if we needed to get out on the wings.
“It was just a little tweak, which I don’t think they were really expecting. It gave us an opportunity to get going, and get a foothold in the game again.
“It’s something that the manager has brought in – different styles of play.”
Derby County supporters will be very pleased to have seen a different style being used, knowing that the squad have the potential to mix it up if the game isn’t going their way.
It also demonstrates Cocu’s tactical prowess which is exciting for Rams supporters. Although they’re currently unbeaten so far, performance wise it hasn’t been outstanding.
This is good as it gives Cocu the opportunity to make improvements whilst still picking up points on the board – that’s the hallmark of a good side.
It will be interesting to see whether Derby stick with three centre-backs on Tuesday night. If they do decide to go with two, Cocu has a big decision to make on who he’ll pick.