Derby County v Middlesbrough: Reports of Rams demise greatly exaggerated, says Neil Warnock

MUCH attention may have been devoted to Derby County’s off-the-field problems this year, but for his part, Neil Warnock is not reading too much into them.

Despite last season’s close shave with relegation, ongoing uncertainty regarding the ownership of the club, cash problems and a temporary transfer embargo in the close season, Derby have shown enough about them to take four points already this term.

With some seasoned Championship operators buttressing a number of young talents, reports of the Rams’ demise may have been greatly exaggerated according to someone who is an authority on the division in Warnock.

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The Boro chief, whose side were undone in the East Midlands in February, said: “I think they have some good players.

Phil Jagielka: One of Neil Warnock's boys who is now at Derby County.

“They signed Jags (Phil Jagielka) this week, one of ‘my lads’ and (Sam) Baldock, who are two good players and numbers-wise, I don’t think we have many more than them.

“They are a big club, who have had a bad time. I think Mel (Morris) has been trying to sell it for years and hopefully, they will get new owners soon and Mel can relax a little bit and Wayne (Rooney) can take the club.

“He (Rooney) has been inside the club and knows what he has got. I don’t think he would have taken it if he did not know he had a decent squad to work with.

“Yes, I know there’s the financials. But everyone is financially tight at the minute.”

A lack of goals was cited as the big reason for Boro failing to reach the play-offs last term, but a tally of five goals scored – and five against – in 2021-22 suggests that conceding has been the main early issue.

Warnock added: “We must try and eliminate the errors and work harder to make sure we defend in better positions. We have done in the past.”