Philip Cocu was brought in by Derby County in the summer with plenty of pedigree, having won titles with PSV but made a poor career choice in taking over Fenerbahce when they were in turmoil.
But things have not gone well this season. Losing three of their key players from last season – Fikayo Tomori, Harry Wilson and Mason Mount – as well as Frank Lampard meant it was never going to be easy, but the Rams currently sit 16th in the table.
A five-game unbeaten run recently suggested that things might be on the turn, but defeat to Luton on Tuesday halted any progress they might have made, and was another poor result on the road in a season when they have struggled away from Pride Park.
And on the Totally Football League Show this week, Adrian Clarke’s patience with Cocu ran out.
“I don’t rate Cocu. I don’t rate him at all. Every Derby fan I speak to says “he’s not going anywhere, he’s here for the long-term, the club are backing him, he’s sticking around” but…he’s not very good.
“Honestly, he’s not very good. In terms of his tactical approach, he doesn’t know his best team, doesn’t know the formation, he’s using players in strange positions. I think they need to get rid.
“Derby are just soft on the road, aren’t they? They’re flimsy. I always think a good gauge of a dressing room, of a team’s shape and organisation, is their away form – and Derby’s has been awful. Eight away points is relegation stuff.”
They go into the weekend’s encounter with Stoke in the curious position of being second-favourites to a side who have struggled desperately for most of the season and are still not yet clear of relegation trouble, not least because Michael O’Neill’s side had a clear week to prepare for the game, whereas the Rams had that trip to Kenilworth Road.
“It definitely helps,” said Adrian, about the gap in their fixture list. “Tactically, you can work on your shape, your pattern of play, the gameplans and whatnot. Cocu will have a lot less because he’ll have been concentrating on Luton. You’ve got to fancy Stoke, haven’t you?”
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