STEVE McClaren says Watford will provide another big test of character for his Derby County team today, writes STEVE NICHOLSON.
McClaren has watched the Rams pass two tests already in his first few weeks as head coach.
Derby stormed back from 4-1 down at half time to draw 4-4 with Ipswich Town on the day McClaren was officially installed as the new man at the helm.
A few days later, Derby beat Leeds United 3-1 to record their first home league victory of the season and give McClaren a winning start.
A third test awaits this afternoon at Vicarage Road where the Rams take on a Watford team who aim to go one step further this season after losing in the play-off final last season.
Gianfranco Zola’s side are unbeaten at home in the Championship and they are top scorers in the division with 22 goals in 11 matches.
They have scored another seven goals in three Capital One Cup ties.
McClaren has spoken to other managers about Watford and has received glowing reports.
“When I was at Queen’s Park Rangers earlier this season we didn’t actually play Watford, but I watched them,” McClaren said.
“I have spoken to other managers about Watford.
“I talked to Huddersfield manager Mark Robins and he said Watford are the best team they have played this season,
“Bournemouth said the same. Watford beat Bournemouth 6-1.
“They score a lot of goals. They are strong at home, and play football, as Zola does.
“He has built from last season when he had a good team and he has another good team this season.
“This is another big test for us.
“Since I have been here we have had the test against Ipswich, and also Leeds.
“It will be great to watch the team at Watford because games like this really test the character of the team.
“But it is about what we do. It is about getting ourselves right.
“It will be an interesting, fascinating game.”
McClaren says Derby have already shown this season that they can be formidable on their travels.
Victories at Brighton, Yeovil and Millwall help to make up the second-best away record in the Championship.
“The lads have been very good on the road,” McClaren said. “I have seen the games at Yeovil and at Brighton, and some of the draw at Bolton, and they played very well.”