A YEAR ago, Paul Clement was on the Real Madrid bench as Gareth Bale netted his first La Liga goal since moving to Spain in a world record transfer.
Real went on to lose that August 31 trip to Real Sociedad 4-2 but there was little doubt that Clement, Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant, had one of the plum jobs in football.
Working with not only Bale but Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez et al was the pinnacle for someone whose own playing career had never risen higher than non-League.
Now, however, it is the more mundane surroundings of the Championship that Clement is focused on after taking charge of Derby County during the summer.
As with today’s visitors Leeds United, the Rams have drawn all four league games this term and Uwe Rosler is eagerly looking forward to pitting his wits against the 43-year-old former Chelsea and Paris St Germain assistant.
“Paul is a fantastic coach and he comes from one of the biggest clubs,” said the United head coach. “You don’t work on that level, and PSG again, if you are not an excellent football man. That was a scoop for Derby to get such a highly regarded coach in. I am sure he will make his mark with Derby.
“For me, now we are all sitting down in one boat. It doesn’t matter what happened a month ago or two years ago, now we are all competing against each other.
“I like to compete against such a high-profile manager. Hopefully, we can come out on top.”
United, who have ended their interest in Watford forward Fernando Forestieri, head to the East Midlands for the lunchtime kick-off hoping for a big turnaround in fortune at the home of the Rams.
The club’s last seven visits have ended in defeat and Rosler is certain today will bring a tough test.
“Derby County is one of the top fixtures in a season and it is coming at the end of a very hectic schedule,” he said. “They are an exciting team with very good core players who are drilled in a certain and exciting way from Steve McClaren’s time in charge.
“They have got new players, exciting players, expensive players and we want to measure ourselves against one of the favourites in this league.
“Sometimes, of course, when a new manager comes in it can take a little bit of time. But I have seen them against Charlton recently and in other games, and they have a good way of playing football.
“We will have to cope with that and then expose ourselves onto them and try to punish them.”