Wayne Rooney was relishing the build-up to this Saturday’s East Midlands Derby in his pre-match press conference this afternoon, with quotes provided by The Athletic’s Ryan Conway.
The Rams may have been dreading their matchday five meeting with Nottingham Forest before the season, after a summer of turmoil off the pitch, however having picked up five points from their opening four compared to Chris Hughton’s men’s zero they will be feeling far more optimistic.
Rooney is instilling a siege mentality with the group of players clearly motivated by the adversity that has compromised their capabilities in the transfer market this summer.
He said jokingly: “I think we’ve gone past deadline day here. Especially for my players.”
WR on deadline day, sort of joking…I think: "I think we've gone past deadline day here. Especially for my players."
He laughed when he said it. But wonder if its the sort of joke that only works if you know the punchline to be true.
— Ryan Conway (@RJConway92) August 26, 2021
The Rams had to apply for permission from the EFL to sign Sam Baldock in the last fortnight, with their four other additions including 39-year-old former England international Phil Jagielka and exiled attacker Ravel Morrison.
There is a lot riding on this East Midlands Derby, maybe hinting to why Rooney is relishing the main scrutiny being on the opponents. Chris Hughton’s time at the City Ground feels untenable if Forest are defeated at Pride Park.
It will be great to see how Rooney’s determined and youthful Rams throw themselves into the heat of the battle.
The atmosphere will be electric in the early kick-off on Saturday, Derby are slight favourites despite all that has gone on.
Forest have a depth of quality in their squad and on paper it is no contest, but that is not how the Championship operates, it is a truly mouth-watering encounter.
It would seem that unless the off the pitch problems are resolved, Rooney is expecting to be involved in a relegation battle and the best way to combat that is to delay their slide down the table for as long as possible.
The blend of experience and youth at the core of the squad will ensure a committed display at the weekend, but that may not be enough as a Forest side desperate for points.