Steve McClaren admits he may have to show a ruthless streak this summer if Derby County are to push for promotion again next season.
The Rams were in the shake-up for a place in the Premier League for much of the current campaign, until a 3-0 defeat at home to Reading on the final day saw the miss out on a playoff position by a single point. McClaren was expected to quit the iPro Stadium in the wake of this disappointment, but he has since stated that he will remain and finish the job he has started.
The former England coach will now spend the coming weeks analysing where things went wrong for his side, whilst also planning on how they can finally escape the Championship next season. And although he is happy with the majority of his current squad, he has told the official club website that there are likely to be changes which may require him to show a ruthless streak.
“It’s about refreshing things now in order to move forward,” he said. “In the time we have been here we believe that we have created a culture and a positive environment, but now I think it is time to put a bit more of our stamp on things. We want kick on; perhaps we have to be ruthless in regards with what we keep, what we let go and what we continue to do moving forwards.
“Ninety per cent of everything here has been perfect but we just need to find that extra few per cent to push us on. The dressing room we have is fantastic but at the end of the season we just didn’t have enough on the field. There’s not wholesale changes needed, we just need to tinker with a few things because there isn’t a lot wrong here. We have to look at kicking on.”
Two players who won’t be involved for the Rams next season are Shaun Barker and Jamie Ward. Defender Barker made 105 appearances for the club during a six-year spell, and striker Ward scored 34 goals in 149 matches. Meanwhile, Darren Bent hasn’t ruled out signing permanently with Derby, although he would also consider signing a new deal with parent club Aston Villa where he will soon be out of contract.
“Who knows? It (Villa) is a fantastic football club, I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t be nice to go back,” said the striker. “But at the same time I have had a great time at Derby, they are firmly in my thoughts too, so I will go away and have a think in the summer. Everyone wants to play in the Premier League, but if not then Derby in the Championship would be a good option.”
What does Steve McClaren have to do to improve Derby County ahead of next season, and should he do all he can to retain the services of Darren Bent?