Derby boss makes crucial mistake by overlooking 25-goal Chelsea loanee

Steve McClaren

Derby County boss Steve McClaren made a big mistake in the Rams’ 1-0 Playoff final defeat by overlooking the impressive Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford.

Queens Park Rangers won promotion to the Premier League in fortunate circumstances following a last-minute winner over fellow contenders Derby County.

It was tough on the Rams, as they dominated proceedings in the second half following the sending off to Gary O’Neil. However, a last minute error from Derby centre-back Richard Keogh undid their hard work and Bobby Zamora finished with aplomb to send 10-man QPR back to the top flight.

After the game, the consensus was that former Coventry City defender Keogh was the man who gifted Harry Redknapp’s men the victory. The Rams, however, should have put the game to bed long before then, and Steve McClaren’s decision to overlook Patrick Bamford will ultimately haunt supporters all summer.

The Chelsea striker has been in fine form all season, netting 25 goals in two different loan spells at MK Dons and later Derby County.

The 20-year-old former Nottingham Forest youth product provides excellent movement with a real goal threat, capable of finding the net from inside the six-yard box and from long range.

With QPR happy to sit on a 0-0 with 25 minutes remaining, the game from a Derby perspective was screaming out for The Blues striker to come on and test goalkeeper Robert Green. Unfortunately, he was overlooked, and it was the possession-based winger Simon Dawkins who was instead favoured to replace the tiring Jonny Russell.

Dawkins' introduction failed to add anything as an attacking sense, as the former Tottenham Hotspur player contributed little to Derby County's attacks other than a weak effort whilst well-placed inside the area.

By the time Chelsea’s young prodigy Bamford entered on to the Wembley pitch, it was too little, too late for Steve McClaren and his young side as referee Lee Mason put an end to proceedings within a minute of his introduction.

With Derby County staying in the Championship, a return to the iPro Stadium for the England u-21 international may depend entirely on whether Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho adds to the Blues’ striking department this summer.

There is no denying another season in the Championship would be good for Bamford’s development, but perhaps he has his sights set on the Premier League and fighting for a first-team spot at Stamford Bridge.

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