Derby County’s comeback in their 2-2 draw against Birmingham City provided the latest example of their determination to pull off an almost impossible escape from relegation.
Two-nil down at the 86th minute, late goals from Luke Plange and Kyrstian Bieilk secured a point for Derby in their unlikely attempt to survive relegation.
This season has been a series of unfortunate events for Derby. Financial matters off the pitch have put the future of the club in doubt, with the club starting the season with a 21 point deduction, making survival in the Championship extremely difficult.
Despite various rumours and talks of takeovers, Derby are still under huge financial difficulty and the future looks uncertain for the Rams.
While they have had their off field problems, the spirit of this team cannot be faulted. It would have been very easy for players to leave due to the financial situation the club finds itself in. Derby admitted through the January transfer window that offers for players will have to be accepted, with Irish midfielder Jason Knight on the radar of Premier League teams.
Captain Tom Lawrence has been linked with a move to promotion chasing Bournemouth, while highly rated youngster Festy Ebosele has been linked with a move to Serie A side Udinese.
Knight could have taken this as an opportunity to jump ship, join a club with a brighter, financially safe future and Ebosele could benefit from a club that can provide financial certainty at this early stage of his career.
With Derby under a transfer embargo, the opportunity to play for quality players to join the club is also non-existent.
However, the commitment from those within the squad to achieve the almost impossible must be admired, especially from the man at the top, Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United all-time top goal scorer has brought his well-known commitment from his playing days into management.
Rooney gained a reputation during his career of chasing lost causes, emptying the tank every game and filling in at unnatural positions to help his side. To go from player/manager to manager of a side struggling financially is a daunting task for anyone, particularly for his first managerial position.
To keep the Rams up last season was an achievement, not knowing what this season had to offer. The financial outlook of the side has meant Rooney has had to dig deep into the little resources available to his disposal.
It is important to realise that the outcome of this season will not determine Rooney’s outcome as a manager. The circumstances surrounding Derby would make this a difficult task for any coach in world football.
The level of commitment Rooney has shown through this difficult time is the type of loyalty that us currently missing from modern day football. Everton attempted to bring Rooney to Goodison Park, but the 36-year-old decided to keep his commitment to the Rams.
While Everton are currently going through difficulties of their own, their problems are small and solutions can be easily created in comparison to the difficulties Derby have faced in the last two seasons.
An offer to manage in the Premier League and take over in the club where it all began would be too good to turn down for most coaches. However, Rooney’s commitment to Derby must be admired and will stand to him in the future.
Derby’s financial difficulties means it is very difficult to predict what the future holds for management. However, it is clear that Rooney will have a bright career in management ahead of him.
Rooney has a group of players that have run through brick walls for not only the club, but for him. Prior to the season, Rooney was still able to show optimism, despite doubts where players would emerge from.
Derby currently lie seven points from safety, a remarkable achievement considering they started the season 21 points behind the rest of the division. The morale and work rate by the squad must be given huge credit under Rooney.
Over the last decade, we have seen clubs such as Rangers and Portsmouth, who have faced similar financial difficulties, let their performances on the pitch spiral and are still in the process of recovery.
Derby fans will appreciate the efforts put in by Rooney and the squad, to give them even a fighting chance of staying up would have been above many fans expectations. If it was not for the points deduction, they would currently be in 15th place, 15 points from the relegation zone.