An overview of Paul Clement's Rams
Home ground: iPro Stadium
Head coach: Paul Clement
2014/15 league position: 8th
2014/15 top goalscorer: Chris Martin (21 in all competitions)
After missing out on a play-off place altogether last season, despite leading the Championship table as late as February, Derby County will once again be keen to challenge for promotion to the Premier League this time around.
Having cruelly lost to Queens Park Rangers in the 2014 Play-Off Final, the Rams were many people’s favourites for promotion last season.
Starting the campaign well with star striker Chris Martin at his inspirational best, the East-Midlands side were one of the division’s pace-setters during the first half of the campaign as they fought it out at the top of the table in what was one of the closest ever Championship battles for promotion.
However, a late season collapse saw Derby’s season once again end in disappointment.
While Darren Bent and Tom Ince both shone after signing on loan from Aston Villa and Hull City respectively during the January transfer window, the loss of Jordon Ibe after he was recalled by parent-club Liverpool proved to be vital come the end of the year.
Worse was to come as they lost Martin to a hamstring injury for two months during a 2-2 draw with eventual league champions AFC Bournemouth in early-February.
Top of the table at the end of the month, they won just two of their final 13 games of the campaign.
To compile further misery on the Rams, a heavy final day home defeat against Reading not only cost them a place in the play-offs by the smallest of margins, but also cost head coach Steve McClaren his job.
The man chosen to replace the former England boss at the helm is Paul Clement – Carlo Ancelotti’s former number two at Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Chelsea.
Quick to strengthen his side ahead of August’s Championship opener against Bolton Wanderers at August 8 with six new faces already through the door at the iPro Stadium, Clement will be calling on all of his star-studded experience as he looks to make his first managerial stint a success.
Chris Watson, sports reporter for the Derby Telegraph, offers his thoughts on the campaign ahead as the Rams prepare for their opening day visit to Macron Stadium.
“Having challenged for promotion in the past two seasons, Derby County will be hoping it is third time lucky in their quest to reach the Premier League.
“There is a new regime in place at the iPro Stadium, with Steve McClaren dismissed following a disappointing end to the last campaign, which saw the Rams slip out of the play-off zone on the final day.
“Paul Clement, who has been Carlo Ancelotti's number two at Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Chelsea, has been appointed as McClaren's successor.
“It is his first head coach role but with his impressive CV and the backing of new chairman Mel Morris, much is expected by Derby fans and they go into the new campaign as one of the bookies' title favourites.
“At the time of writing, five new signings have come through the door - and there are likely to be more on the way [Tom Ince has since joined the club permanently after a successful loan spell from Hull City last year].
“Striker Darren Bent has joined the club on a permanent deal after a productive loan spell last term and is joined by former Aston Villa team-mate Andreas Weimann.
“Goalkeeper Scott Carson has been snapped up from Wigan Athletic, with defender Alex Pearce and the versatile Chris Baird arriving on free transfers from Reading and West Bromwich Albion respectively.”
FIXTURES V BOLTON IN 2015/16
Saturday 8 August 2015 – 3pm kick-off at Macron Stadium
Saturday 9 April 2016 – 3pm kick-off at the iPro Stadium
RESULTS V BOLTON IN 2014/15
Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Derby County – 27/9/2014 - (CLICK HERE for highlights)
Derby County 4-1 Bolton Wanderers – 7/2/2015 - (CLICK HERE for highlights)