Wayne Rooney did not hold back laying into his players after their disappointing loss at Oakwell on Wednesday evening.
The Rams took the lead inside 24 minutes through Sam Baldock but were pegged back either side of half time by Victor Adeboyejo and Aaron Leya Iseka to lose ground on climbing out of the bottom three.
Rooney offered his brutally honest thoughts on the performance to DerbyshireLive after the game.
He said: “Tonight (Wednesday evening) I am disappointed and hurt. The performance wasn’t good enough, so we didn’t deserve anything out of the game. I expect more from the players as individuals and as a group. We played with a lack of intensity, a lack of energy, a lack of aggression, and we need more. We are in a relegation battle, we need more.
“I am expecting a reaction Saturday.”
It is not going to get any easier for the Rams who play the current top two in succession before hosting fifth placed Queens Park Rangers, after their trip to Millwall going into the international break on Saturday.
It was always going to be difficult for Derby to stay in the Championship regardless of points deductions this season. The Rams would be in 19th if it was not for the 12 points docked and heading towards the battle for survival anyway.
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It is surprising to see Rooney reading the riot act when the squad have put so much into the first third of this season. However, the adversity has definitely brought the group closer together and therefore the 36-year-old will know how he should act and what he should say to provoke the best possible reaction.
Sam Baldock returning to the side and the goals at Oakwell is a huge positive moving forward, the 32-year-old is vastly experienced in the second tier and can give greater flexibility to Tom Lawrence and Colin Kazim-Richards operating around him. The Rams have drawn eight matches, comfortably the most in the division, so far but really need to take three points from The Den on Saturday to create some optimism going into the break.