Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray admitted the sacking of Paul Clement as head coach of his former club Derby County had been a ‘strange one’ this week.
Clement had been in charge of the Championship club for just eight months and they were fifth in the table, so fans were naturally confused by the move.
Clement was dismissed after seven league games without a victory, though chairman Mel Morris then said promotion ‘was not the primary target’ but he felt Derby had ‘not made enough progress’ under the 44-year-old former assistant manager at Chelsea and Real Madrid.
“It was a strange one,” said Murray, who began his career with the Rams and played in both the Premier League and Championship for them, making 54 appearances between 1998 and 2003.
“They have obviously got a lot of expectation and their target was getting into the Premier League.
“From the outside world they look like they are on course for a good season. But you don’t know and I think they have now come out saying their primary goal wasn’t to get promoted. It’s a confusing time, but this game is a confusing game.”
As a manager himself, he admitted: “You are never safe. You don’t know what’s round the corner. You are always looking over your shoulder.”
However, Murray firmly believes Derby would be a success in the top flight if they could get back up there.
“The one thing Derby have got – and they’ve always had – is a ridiculous infrastructure. It is Premier League,” he said.
“The fan base, the supporters, they get through good and bad times is incredible and they deserve to be in the Premier League.
“With the backing they’ve got now from the owner I think they could compete in the Premier League. The tough thing is getting there.
“To get out of any division is hard work. But sometimes certain clubs suit a higher division and I do think Derby will be one of them if they do get there.”