Gary Rowett surprised an entire city, and more besides, with his decision to leave Derby, a club he was connected to on so many levels.
His time spent both as a player and, more recently, as a manager has now certainly been tainted by his unlikely move to recently relegated Stoke City.
There was an idea…
The idea couldn’t have been more perfect: to bring in a manager with strong club connections to finally see Derby through to a prestigious Premier League status. With his appointment came sentiment, excitement, freshness and supposed loyalty. All of which lasted no longer than a year which is why, when the news sprang, many supporters couldn’t quite believe it.
A binding contract- not so binding.
Derby were led into a deep false sense of security after Rowett seemed to show his dedication to the team where he recorded over 100 caps as a senior player. Rowett signed a three-and-a-half-year deal extension with Derby at the beginning of the year after the Stoke rumours initially began. But, after the second time of asking, the Potters have taken Rowett with the promise of a three-year acquaintance.
More of this to come…
Derby departures this season were inevitable after another underwhelming campaign. Players, for many seasons now, have been on the cusp of leaving the club. Some are returning from loan after falling well out of favour with the Rams’ first team. But by no means did Derby expect a departure emerging from the managerial department.
With this withdrawal comes many more; Jason Shackell, Ikechi Anya, Darren Bent, Nick Blackman, Chris Martin, Jacob Butterfield and Craig Bryson, to name a few, could, like Rowett, be on their way out of Pride Park this Summer.
Rowett, following the first attempt by Stoke to appoint his services, spoke about his desire to finish and see the job through with Derby. For many ‘the job’ was inferred to be promotion to the Premier League. Instead ‘the job’ seemed to be what Derby have been doing for season upon season before. The 44-year-old jumped ship after making sixth place and losing in the play-off semi-final to a strong Fulham side.
Seeing the entire job through in just one year was going to take some doing, no one at Derby questioned that. Neither, though, did they question Rowett’s commitment to the club.
A good fit?
Stoke, though, have gained a good, young, English manager and are perhaps perfectly poised to work with a mind like Rowett’s.
After their admirable and lengthy stay in the Premier League, Stoke were in desperate need of a manager who knows just how different life in the Championship can be. The unpredictability and demanding nature of the league can be too hot to handle for some recently relegated sides… just ask Sunderland.
Stoke are a team who have built up a reputation of being tough to break down. Rowett is keen to sure up the defensive capabilities of his teams. Stoke may reignite the resilient flame under Rowett’s reign.
In addition, the opportunity to man manage a player like Ryan Shawcross was possibly one that a defensive minded manager like Rowett couldn’t resist.