STEVE McClaren was quick to praise the character of Derby County’s players at the end of a ‘traumatic and emotional’ week for the club.
The Rams have taken four points from six since Nigel Clough was sacked following the defeat by rivals Nottingham Forest.
A spirited recovery in the second half saw them earn a point in a 4-4 draw against Ipswich Town last Tuesday, and they beat Leeds United 3-1 at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday.
McClaren, appointed head coach seven days ago, has been impressed by the way the players handled a difficult week.
“They had a tough week and they have shown some character,” he said. “The performance against Leeds was full of character, commitment, grit, discipline and on top of that great goals and some good football.
“It came at the end of what was a traumatic, emotional week for everybody – the club, the chairman, the players, the staff, the tea ladies.
“The players deserve tremendous credit for the character they showed from half time onwards on Tuesday against Ipswich.”
Two goals in a three-minute spell in the first half from Chris Martin and Johnny Russell put Derby in control against Leeds, but the visitors pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time.
“For 20 or 25 minutes we were excellent,” McClaren said. “We really hunted the ball and worked.
“There was a commitment, we were dangerous on the break.
“We got two goals ahead and just dropped back a little too deep. We invited the pressure and conceded the goal.
“That Leeds goal could have been a killer, a real flattener, but the boys carried it on in the second half.
“You have got to fight, you have to run back, you have got to chase. To win football matches in the Championship everybody has to be hurting at the end in the dressing room, and it is worth it if you pick up three points.
“We defended well second half, especially Zak Whitbread and Richard Keogh.
“We could have done with that third goal a bit earlier but we got it and saw the game out.
“In the two games we have seen all of our frailties and all of our strengths, and a lot of work to do
“This is a start, a nice start.”