STEVE McClaren says he would love to replicate at Derby County what he helped to build and achieve in his five years at Middlesbrough.
Rams head coach faces his former club for the first time as a manager tonight.
He established himself as Middlesbrough’s most successful boss while in charge at the Teeside club.
McClaren guided Boro to their highest finish in the top division since 1975 and to a League Cup triumph in 2004. They also reached the UEFA Cup final in 2006.
“The five great years we had there will always live with me and we want to create something at Derby like we created at Middlesbrough,” said McClaren, ahead of tonight’s meeting of the clubs in the Championship .
Looking back on his time at Middlesbrough, McClaren added: “It was my first job (as a manager) and I was very fortunate my first chairman was one of the best chairmen anybody could have.
“Steve Gibson was a fantastic chairman – one voice, one man, one owner. He built the club for the community.
“We had some fantastic nights at the Riverside, some fantastic nights in Europe. They were really special.
“Probably more special now than when we were going through it.
“We went there looking to build. It took us a good two years to turn it around and it was credit to Steve, who gave us the time to do it, and gave us the resources.
“It was a great example if you follow it of how to build a football club and get a community, people, players – get everybody together and create something special for the fans.
“We had lots of ups and downs in that five years. I remember somebody threw a season ticket at me when we got beat 4-0 by Aston Villa at home. I think three months later we were in the UEFA Cup final!”
JAMIE Ward could return to Derby County’s squad for tonight’s clash with Boro at Pride Park Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm.
A knee injury kept the forward out of Sunday’s victory over Wigan Athletic and it was feared he might be missing for two weeks or more, but the Northern Ireland international was back in training yesterday.
“We will see what kind of reaction he has,” said head coach Steve McClaren.
Ward had scored five goals in seven matches including the winner at Bournemouth before he was sidelined.
Derby have six more matches this month. “We want as many players as possible available for the games,” said McClaren.
“It was good have Johnny Russell, Jeff Hendrick and Kalifa Cisse back at the weekend, and Mark O’Brien and James Bailey played for the under-21s yesterday.
“All of a sudden training becomes very, very competitive.”