Derby County captain Tom Lawrence believes the target of staying afloat in the Championship despite suffering a 21-point deduction was just one step too far for his side this term, speaking to the Rams’ media team.
The Rams have endured horrific off-field turmoil this term, starting last summer with a transfer embargo that hampered their ability to get any deals over the line during the early stages of the transfer window and although they did manage to get signings over the line, they didn’t bring in a sufficient number of players needed to compensate for those that had left Pride Park.
Derby suffered further off-field troubles in September when Mel Morris officially put the club into administration, leaving the second-tier side in real danger of going out of business until preferred bidder Chris Kirchner was able to step in.
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With off-field distractions and a squad severely lacking in depth, Rooney encountered a major task in keeping his side in the second tier, with his task being made harder by the 12-point deduction they were handed when they went into administration.
And this quest to survive was made all but impossible when a further nine-point sanction for a breach of the EFL’s financial rules was implemented in November.
In fairness to the East Midlands outfit, they continued to fight bravely against adversity and looked favourites to get themselves out of danger just a couple of months ago.
But with key first-teamers in Graeme Shinnie and Phil Jagielka leaving in the January window and the club failing to get out of administration, they have suffered from a spell of bad form in recent months, a spell that ended their chances of staying afloat.
Lawrence believes this assignment of staying up was just out of reach, saying: “I think we all thought a few times that we could stay in the division. We went on some crazy runs but I think 21-points being deducted was just one step too far.
“It’s a lot in this league and the Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world. We gave it a good shot and I hope we made everyone proud.”
There may be 46 games in a league season – but a 21-point deduction is still a very steep one and even deductions as low as six can be decisive in relegation battles as shown by Sheffield Wednesday last season.
Considering the second-tier side have a very young squad too, they did so well to come within just a few points of climbing out of the drop zone at one point and in fairness to them, they are now 22nd which wouldn’t be a disastrous finish considering what they have been through.
This is why the squad can be proud of their efforts this season despite their loss of form in recent months, something that’s understandable during what must have been a mentally draining campaign.
Many of the players who have played a key part this season would have been fearing for their future, not just those out of contract in the summer but the whole squad with the future of the club looking uncertain not so long ago.
In fairness, the takeover process is still at a delicate stage at this point but a deal does seem to be near to completion and if a deal does manage to get pushed over the line, that’s the main positive that can be taken from this term along with the players, management team and supporters.