Derby County avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and heading into another Championship campaign, it’s not surprising that fans’ expectations are low.
The Rams narrowly avoided dropping into League One on a dramatic final day and many people believe Wayne Rooney’s side will struggle again.
Most bookmakers have Derby County as favourites to drop out of the Championship, just two seasons after they reached the promotion play-offs under former boss Frank Lampard.
And even the club’s most loyal supporters are finding it difficult to remain positive ahead of what is sure to be a long and grueling campaign.
“There are all sorts going on but unfortunately, nothing has been relayed to the fans,” Jason from the Rams Review Podcast tells FansBet.
“We’ve had a player crisis, a crisis at board level and going into the season with only nine registered players is not exactly everybody’s idea of fun.
“But we have to trust what’s going on above and hopefully they’ll get it sorted out and sooner rather than later with the season only being days away.
“It’s going to be an uphill struggle for Derby this season and possibly worse if things don’t develop in the next couple of weeks.”
Derby are being hindered by a transfer embargo for failing to submit their financial account from previous years and have yet to add new signings to an already depleted playing squad.
As a result, they can only sign free agents on year-long contracts and loan players on six-month deals, and on restricted wages.
👥 Nine senior players
🎽 Nine trialists
❌ Under a transfer embargo
🤕 Knight injured by boss Rooney
— FansBet (@FansBet) August 4, 2021
Free agents can sign at any time during the window, which closes on August 31, and also after the window closes.
The Rams also have nine out-of-contract players training with them in Phil Jagielka, Richard Stearman, Ravel Morrison, Sone Aluko, Sam Baldock, Tom Carroll, Ryan Allsop, Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom.
“We’re all very worried, as anybody would be with that amount of players to choose from but it looks like the EFL are going to let some players come in,” explains Jason.
“It’s not as many as we need as we probably need nine or 10 but four or five to have a core would be nice.
“There’s still some talent in the academy that can come into the side and do a job, not necessarily every week because they are in the under 18s for a reason, but at the end of the day, we need to get bodies in.”
It was a testing campaign for the Rams last season to say the least, one which began with Phillip Cocu in charge and ended with Rooney the sole boss of the club.
Between the first and last games of the season, Derby saw a takeover fall through, Cocu leave the club by mutual consent, a four-man team including Rooney takeover and then the England legend given the reins by himself.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that expectations are pretty low amongst the Pride Park faithful, something that Jason is more than aware of.
“It’s very much the same, unfortunately,” he says.
“It all depends on what the state of the squad is after the transfer window and we have to rely on the kids then it’s going to be an uphill battle.
“I can’t see how it won’t be a tough season but fingers crossed, it won’t be quite as bad if we manage to get a few bodies through the door.”
“We’re still going into the season with an air of optimism and positivity, I think every fan does at the beginning of the season, it just all depends on where we are on August 31st.
“The aim is survival and anywhere above that dreaded line would be a positive.
“The optimism is still there at this moment in time among some fans, but for me, I can only see a relegation battle and I don’t think it’s going to be anything too pretty.”
The Rams were 17th after a run of five wins in six games from January through to February, but their form fell off a cliff and Rooney’s side ended the season with just seven points from a possible 42 on offer.
Wayne Rooney’s side survived relegation to League One on the final weekend of the season when they drew 3-3 with Sheffield Wednesday.
That result, coupled with Rotherham United’s late slip-up at Cardiff City to draw 1-1, ensured Derby would begin another season in the Championship.
But the fact that Rooney secured just one win in the last 15 games of the campaign has thrown the future of the former Manchester United and England striker into doubt.
“In any normal scenario, the manager would have gone last season,” says Jason.
“I don’t know the facts but I’m not 100 percent sure who is paying Wayne Rooney’s wages and who even owns the contract if I’m being honest.
“Could Derby afford to pay him out? No, I wouldn’t think so and I think in all fairness it was difficult for him last season.
“I think it would be very difficult to get rid of him if that’s what they wanted to do so I would fully expect to see Rooney stick around for a while to come.”
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