DERBY County chief executive Sam Rush says that his new coaching team’s history with the club was an important factor in their appointment.
New boss Steve McClaren was handed a two-and-a-half year deal yesterday to replace Nigel Clough, sacked on Saturday night in the wake of the 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest.
He is joined by first-team coach Paul Simpson and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele, with all three having enjoyed playing careers with the Rams.
Steele and McClaren were also coaches at Derby under Jim Smith in the 1990s, and Rush said: “It is important that Steve, Paul and Eric know what it means to play for Derby County and they have been at the club during the good times.
“Steve was a driving force behind the club’s promotion under Jim Smith in the 1990s and you only have to look at his CV to discover what a hugely talented coach he is.”
McClaren – who won the League Cup with Middlesbrough and the Dutch Eredivisie with FC Twente – will not officially take up his new role until Wednesday, with tonight’s match against Ipswich Town left in the hands of academy chief Darren Wassall.
The 52-year-old’s first match will be Saturday’s home game against fierce rivals Leeds United.
Rush revealed over the weekend that Derby were keen to bring in a technical director to assist McClaren, who has been praised in the past for his coaching skills, which revolutionised Manchester United when we was assistant manager to Alex Ferguson.
Rush said: “When we announced the departure of Nigel Clough it was stated that we were conducting a comprehensive review of the football structure, and we believe this is a major step forward in that regard.
“We are thrilled to announce Steve McClaren as well as Paul Simpson and Eric Steele in their respective roles.”
Rush has repeatedly stated that Derby’s target should be to make the Championship play-offs this season, and Clough looked to be making great strides towards that lofty goal with a solid start to the season that saw them win four successive away matches.
However, they are yet to taste victory at Pride Park, and have lost their last three games in all competitions, including back-to-back defeats to East Midlands rivals Leicester City and Forest.
Rush said: “Our goal is to have Derby County competing for a play-off place and beyond, and we feel with Steve and his team at the helm we have a great opportunity to do so.
“Steve is a highly qualified coach with all the skill sets required to be a success here at Pride Park.
“He also has a network of contacts both on a European and global scale.”
One of the shining lights of Clough’s time at Derby has been the successful academy, with the likes of Will Hughes, Mason Bennett, Jeff Hendrick and Mark O’Brien coming through the ranks and into the first-team.
And Rush emphasised that the youth set-up would remain a crucial part of the club under McClaren.
Rush said: “We are very much looking forward to letting Steve get on with the job in hand and helping Derby County move in the right direction.”
“He has also proved in the past that he can identify talent and develop it on the training ground, especially younger players, which is where our academy comes into play, and his working relationship with Darren Wassall is critical to our ongoing success.”
Zac Whitbread is in line to make his Rams debut tonight after joining on a three-month emergency loan from Leicester City.
The former Liverpool centre-half was signed after skipper Richard Keogh was sent off against Forest.
Keogh faces a one-match ban.