Derby County recorded a significant win in the Championship on Monday night, but Steve McClaren has played down their chances of promotion.
A John Eustace header in the first half was enough to give the Rams a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at the iPro Stadium, a result which saw the hosts close the gap on the visitors and second-place Burnley to just a point. This has naturally caused huge excitement amongst the Derby fans, who are dreaming of a return to the big-time next term.
McClaren’s side have lost just two of their last 16 matches in the division, and this has seen them surge up the table. However, rather than set his sights on automatic promotion, the former England coach believes a lack of experience in his ranks has forced him to set his players a target of the playoffs, which would still be a marked improvement on last season’s showing when, under Nigel Clough, they finished in 10th position.
“I still say no because we haven’t got the experience,” he said when asked of their chances of a top-two finish. “We’ve got to show more consistency, especially against the big teams. We’re still looking at seventh position. That is our target at the present moment. The likes of Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers and Burnley have got all the experience.”
The last time the Rams played Premier League football was in 2007-08, after Billy Davies had led them to glory in the playoff final the previous season. The Scot was sacked in November to be replaced by Paul Jewell, the former Wigan Athletic manager, but he was unable to keep them in the top-flight and relegation was confirmed as early as March.