Next Derby County Manager? An alternative option to the main cluster of candidates

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 25 November 2020, 15:38

The next Derby County manager market has so far proved to be compelling and infuriating in equal measure.

Numerous managers have led the way in the betting, especially over the last few days in which we have seen Sam Allardyce, Steve McClaren, Wayne Rooney, and Eddie Howe switch places, while the frontrunner is currently John Terry.

We now know that McClaren is back at the club as a technical director / advisor, which has led to suggestions that he could be an experienced head to an upcoming rookie manager, such as Terry or interim bosses Wayne Rooney and Liam Rosenior.

This is pure speculation of course, it seems anything can happen, so with that in mind we have decided to look away from the obvious names that have been floating around.

Instead, we’ve plucked out a 25/1 shot, who has plenty of Championship experience, is available for hire, and hungry for his next job...

While we’re accustomed to seeing the likes of Paul Cook and Danny Cowley spring up in contention for various Football League vacancies - and rightly so - for some reason it’s been a tad quieter on the Lee Johnson front, although he did recently reveal that he’s had a few job offers from outside of England.

“I’ve been approached, mainly from abroad, which shows the exposure now of the Championship," he told The Times

“I definitely wouldn’t rule a foreign club out,” he added. “My heart is in coaching in the Championship or as high as I can in England. The Championship is the best league in the world: varied styles, varied budgets, varied tactics but such a big prize at the end of it.”

Surely the vacancy at Derby, coupled with the riches of the prospective new owners, represents an attractive prospect for Johnson, who left Bristol City in July after four-and-a-half-years.

Johnson, who at the time was the Championship’s longest-serving manager, may have fallen short in his bid to elevate The Robins into the Premier League, however over the course of his tenure he did gradually enhance the club’s league position: 18th, 17th, 11th, then 8th in 2019/20, before the club finished 12th under the tutorship of Dean Holden at the backend of last season.

Johnson enjoyed a few sparkling moments in the spotlight, particularly in domestic cup competitions; which included outwitting Jose Mourinho’s Man Utd in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, and pushing Pep Guardiola all the way over two legs in the semis. The following season he took his troops to the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2001.

Johnson, known for his meticulous nature, ability to create a learning environment, use of tactical periodisation and eye for technology, will no doubt be revitalised following his five month break from management.

It will have given the young boss - still only 39 with three jobs under his belt - the ideal opportunity to broaden his skillset, soak up as much information as possible, take snippets from other managers, and come back hungrier than ever.

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Neil Harris
Neil Harris
(Cardiff City)
21st January
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