Derby County have flirted with the relegation places for the entirety of the 2020/21 Championship campaign and they are once again in an unfavourable situation with just eight games to play.
A bizarre statistic to come from this campaign is that the Rams recorded just the single victory in their first 15 games – an away win at league leaders Norwich City, in what is still their only home defeat this season.
Their start to the season raised a few eyebrows and led to the sacking of Phillip Cocu, with Wayne Rooney stepping into the vacant role. Fortunes began to change for Derby and a run of three defeats in 13 games gave the ex-Manchester United star a bit of breathing space from the relegation places.
Derby’s situation has once again taken a turn for the worse and they have since been dragged into the relegation scrap they were seemingly avoiding. The Rams have picked up a mere three points from their last seven games and sit just five points above safety.
Adding to their troubles is that Rotherham United, who occupy the highest relegation spot, have four games in hand on Rooney’s side.
The power appears to be in the Millers’ hands but it also means that they have 12 games to play in a month and a half.
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Also threatened by the drop, are the ground-sharing duo of Birmingham City and Coventry City. The Blues are two points below Derby, whilst the gap is just a point from Coventry. Both sides are in slightly better form than the Rams, with Birmingham appointing Lee Bowyer in the last week, in pursuit of bridging a sizeable gap from the emerging relegation scrap.
Goals have been the ultimate issue this season, with only bottom club Wycombe Wanderers scoring fewer than the rather blunt Rams.
27 goals in 38 games is not good enough for a club of Derby’s stature and is something that will need addressing in summer.
However, the calibre of forwards that they will be able to attract will be dependent on what division they will be in next season.
Their striking situation has been particularly disappointing in recent weeks, with the Rams failing to net in five of their last six matches.
This has stretched the number of games without scoring to 19, meaning that they have failed to score in half of their Championship fixtures this season.
The international break could prove pivotal with the Rams in desperate need of recuperating and focussing on avoiding a relegation that would be extremely damaging for a club like Derby County.