90min
Derby County FC

A timeline of Derby County's recent disasters

Ross Jackson
Wayne Rooney has his work cut out at Derby
Wayne Rooney has his work cut out at Derby / Athena Pictures/Getty Images
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Think your club is a shambles right now? Spare a thought for fans of Derby County.

The Rams have spent years threatening to finally break back into the Premier League since their relegation in 2008 - a season which gleaned just one win and a record low points tally of 11 by the way - and despite four attempts at promotion via the play offs they still find themselves in the Championship.

Still, they should probably be glad of that to be honest considering they could - and quite possibly should - be in League One right now, after years of terrible decision making by both the club's hierarchy and squad members left them in an absolute mess.

If you've forgotten just how bad the last few years have been for Derby County, treat yourself to a little refresher of arguably the must turbulent few years a single football club has ever experienced...


1. Mel Morris buys Pride Park (June 2018)

Mel Morris bought Pride Park in 2018
Mel Morris bought Pride Park in 2018 / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Arguably the catalyst for Derby's woes was owner Mel Morris' decision to buy Pride Park back in June 2018.

The move was intended to help balance the books as Morris looked to, for want of a better word, fudge his club's accounts.

The purchase meant Derby's bank balance was made healthier by the sum of £80m, meaning they'd technically be complying with FFP (Financial Fair Play) rules.

You probably don't need to be a footballing expert to work out that the move didn't go down too well with the rest of the clubs in the Championship, and it eventually came back to bite them in the a***.


2. Marcelo Bielsa & 'Spygate' (Jan 2019)

Marcelo Bielsa was accused of spying on Derby in 2019
Marcelo Bielsa was accused of spying on Derby in 2019 / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

How could we forget the infamous 'Spygate' saga?

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was accused of spying on Derby County's training sessions prior to their meeting in January 2019 - well, we say he was accused, one of his staff members was actually caught at the Rams' training complex and the Leeds manager openly admitted to spying on other sides.

While the whole debacle obviously reflected worse on Leeds than it did Derby, it just caused the Rams a load of unnecessary publicity.


3. Play-off final defeat (May 2019)

Derby were beaten by Villa in the 2018/19 play-off final
Derby were beaten by Villa in the 2018/19 play-off final / Tom Jenkins/Getty Images

Derby would get their own back on Leeds as they came from behind to knock Bielsa's side out of the play-off semi-final later that season, but their wait for promotion to the Premier League would go on.

Frank Lampard's side suffered the agony of play-off final heartbreak as they were beaten 2-1 by Aston Villa at Wembley.

Still, it's not like Derby should definitely have won the game given their squad was full of loanees who would go on to secure big-money moves or win the Champions League in just a few seasons time.


4. Frank Lampard jumps ship (July 2019)

Frank Lampard was named as Chelsea boss in July 2019
Frank Lampard was named as Chelsea boss in July 2019 / Pool/Getty Images

Right, Derby had come so close to booking their place in the Premier League, all they needed to do was add a few more decent players and surely next season would be their time - and then their manager left.

The opportunity to manage Chelsea was always going to prove too tempting for Lampard to stick around at Pride Park, and the rookie boss departed the club after just one year in the job.

Time to rebuild once again.


5. 32Red sign Wayne Rooney (August 2019)

Wayne Rooney signed for Derby
Wayne Rooney signed for Derby / Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Signing a player like Wayne Rooney should hardly be on a list of disasters for a Championship club, but once again Derby were accused of further dodgy dealings.

The former England captain wouldn't officially move to Pride Park until January 2020, but in August 2019 it was revealed Derby had reached an agreement to bring him to the club.

How had they possibly been able to afford such a high-profile player? Ahhh the move had been funded by the club's sponsors, obviously.

Rooney was handed the number 32 shirt upon his arrival, a decision which had nothing to do with the fact the club are sponsored by 32Red and they paid for the whole thing.


6. Car crash (September 2019)

Richard Keogh and Mason Bennett were involved in a car crash
Richard Keogh and Mason Bennett were involved in a car crash / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Derby's 2019/20 season looked like being a bit of a disaster after new boss Phillip Cocu led his team to just one win in their opening eight league games, but at least things had calmed down off the pitch - not for long they hadn't.

Richard Keogh, Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence were involved in a car crash, with the former left unconscious as his teammates fled the scene.

Bennett and Lawrence were later banned from driving, while Keogh was sacked by the club after suffering an injury during the crash which would keep him out for 12 months.

Oh, and Lawrence has just been named club captain by the way...


7. Bottled making the play-offs (July 2020)

Phillip Cocu's side threw away their chance of making the play offs
Phillip Cocu's side threw away their chance of making the play offs / Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Having managed to get their season back on track after a rocky start, Cocu's men looked well set to secure a place in the play-offs with just six games of the season remaining.

However, they went on a shocking end-of-season run and failed to pick up a win in any of their next five outings, subsequently missing out on a place in the top six by six points.

Yet another season in the second tier was confirmed.


8. One win in first 15 games (December 2020)

Phillip Cocu was sacked in November 2020
Phillip Cocu was sacked in November 2020 / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Cocu was sacked just a few months into the 2020/21 campaign, with Derby notching just one win from their first 15 league outings.

The club decided to appoint just about every person who'd ever stepped foot inside Pride Park as interim boss, with Rooney, Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker handed the reins.

Eventually Rooney was given the job, much to the dismay of Rosenior if reports are to be believed.


9. Players not paid (December 2020)

Mel Morris's players weren't paid in December 2020
Mel Morris's players weren't paid in December 2020 / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Back to off-field turmoil now, and having finally managed to pick up a couple of wins the Derby players were handsomely rewarded by not getting paid.

The club's hierarchy promised the situation would be resolved and the players would be paid in full, yet ongoing cash flow problems meant owner Morris was unable to fulfil said promise.

Derby's financial woes didn't look like ending any time soon with Morris unable to secure outside investment and a takeover of the club not looking likely.


10. Survive thanks to Sheffield Wednesday points deduction (May 2021)

Derby County survived on the final day of the season
Derby County survived on the final day of the season / Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Seems a bit over the top to be celebrating survival in the car park but given the years they'd endured we can't really begrudge them it.

Derby somehow secured their place in the Championship on the last day of the 2020/21 season, despite winning just one of their last 15 games.

The Rams survived by a point - and had dropped into the relegation zone at one point midway through their final game of the season - though they had Sheffield Wednesday's 12-point deduction at the start of the year to thank for their survival.


11. Fined £100,000 and told to refile accounts (June 2021)

Mel Morris hasn't had many reasons to smile of late
Mel Morris hasn't had many reasons to smile of late / Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Despite seemingly retaining their place in the second tier, doubts remained over Derby's survival as an investigation continued into their compliance with FFP rules.

The EFL eventually admitted defeat and decided not to appeal the decision to hand them a £100,000 fine instead of a points deduction, though the fallout from the case wasn't over yet...


12. Transfer embargo until accounts are resubmitted (June 2021)

Wayne Rooney's side was placed under a transfer embargo earlier this year
Wayne Rooney's side was placed under a transfer embargo earlier this year / Aleksandra Szmigiel - Pool/Getty Images

As part of the case, Derby were told to resubmit their accounts for 2016, 2017 and 2018 as the EFL continued to look into their FFP compliance.

Until their accounts were refiled, Derby would be placed under a transfer embargo meaning Rooney was unable to sign any new players ahead of the 2021/22 season, something which surprisingly didn't go down too well with the Rams boss...


13. Wayne Rooney admits he can’t field a team (July 2021)

Wayne Rooney has admitted he'll struggle to field a team
Wayne Rooney has admitted he'll struggle to field a team / Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Rooney admitted in an interview recently that he would be unable to field a team for Derby's first game of the Championship season against Huddersfield on 7 August.

The Rams boss claimed to have just nine senior players available to him - including just one centre-back - so you'd imagine he'd be wrapping said nine players in cotton wool before their opener in a few months time, right?

Maybe not...


14. Wayne Rooney injures one his first-team players (July 2021)

Jason Knight has been injured in training
Jason Knight has been injured in training / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The latest in our long list of Derby County disasters came just this week, as Rooney admitted star midfielder Jason Knight had suffered an injury in training and was facing up to 12 weeks on the sidelines.

Seriously, who would be so daft to lunge into a challenge with one of the nine senior players at the club when they're under a transfer embargo?

Oh, it was Rooney.

We just don't know what to say anymore. The Derby County 'banter years' don't look like ending any time soon and who knows what'll be next on the list.


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