Derby look set to achieve a play-off finish, but head coach Steve McClaren has told the Rams website that they need to improve one area of their game if they are to be a success.
“We didn’t do the nitty gritty and that’s what we have got to start and do,” the ex-England manager said.
The Rams are generally considered as one of the best footballing sides in the division, and are frequently dominating games and outplaying opposition.
However, this has cost them recently this term, with a lack of plan B resulting in a slide down the table, seeing them fall from the automatic promotion places to the play-offs.
Whereas the likes of Bournemouth and Watford, who similarly play exciting and attacking football, can hold their own against strong opposition who are willing to play the game in a rather dirty manner, Derby are let down by a willingness to always stick to their guns.
There is an honourable aspect to this, as they know that people are watching them to be excited, but it certainly does not help a club who are fighting for promotion in an extremely tough and competitive division.
McClaren is correct to single out the need for the nitty-gritty in Derby’s play, but it is up to him to coax it out of his players. For all their impressive talent and skill, it is hard to see who in that squad can get down and dirty when necessary, and signing players who fulfil this role may be necessary in the summer transfer window to ensure a competitive Derby squad.