They always say never go back to your ‘ex’. It seems Derby County chairman Mel Morris didn’t hear the warning when re-appointing Steve McClaren as manager in October, just 17 months after sacking him.
On Sunday evening McClaren joined a unique list of managers sacked twice from the same club and by the same chairman.
Morris stated his decision for the second sacking was down to a lack of “unity and togetherness.”
He was reportedly left seething after watching an abject and embarrassing performance in the Rams’ 3-0 thrashing by Brighton on Friday evening.
A run of one win in 10 games; a run that left the Rams 10 points off the play-off positions with 10 games to go, having been in the top six at Christmas; and a poll that showed 60% of Derby fans didn’t think McClaren was the right man for the job — it was only going one way.
There is no doubt that the former England boss was starting to lose his way. Despite repeatedly telling the fans he had the solutions, they weren’t arising and ultimately Morris had enough.
A New Year period that saw the Rams fall flat on their faces in terrible performances at Leeds, Norwich, Aston Villa and Blackburn — and with just the one victory against out-of-form Barnsley — meant McClaren has left on a sour note.
The man who seems to make an instant impact on the club upon his arrival but then fade away badly is looking for a new role after less than a year in charge this time around.
McClaren lifted Derby from 20th to the brink of automatic promotion in his first spell with the club before fading away to leave Leicester and Burnley as runaway winners and then losing in the play-off final, despite having an ‘extra’ man more for most of the second period.
McClaren again lifted the Rams’ up to the play-off positions with a run of eight straight wins this time around before an uninspiring run has left the Rams season petering out into disappointment.
His recruitment you could say is questionable. Signing a 19-year-old midfielder in Julien De Sart was hardly something to set the Derby fans’ pulses racing.
Despite a very encouraging debut in the FA Cup win at West Brom, the young man has looked out of his depth and gone missing in recent weeks.
And David Nugent, a man the club have tried to sign many times but failed, seems to not have the correct attributes to revitalise their goal-shy attack.
I wonder what Chris Martin is thinking of all of this? The man who signed a new contract to work with McClaren again will now not get that chance.
Will he return to the club? It says something that the head of recruitment, Chris Evans, has also been asked to leave.
Chris Powell has also been sacked by the ruthless Derby chairman, who will certainly be criticised for the move by many, but he is not the kind of man who will listen to the negative comments.
Morris has said he wants the best for the club, and if he feels the players are not playing for their manager then he must make the best decision for the club. We have seen how quickly player attitudes can change at fellow East Midlanders Leicester and the chaos that has been going on at the Premier League champions.
McClaren and Powell have left a week before the Rams travel to arch rivals Nottingham Forest, Gary Rowett has emerged as the early favourite for the manager’s role, but how quickly will Mel Morris wait to appoint his successor?