Millwall’s away travels continue this Saturday following their midweek success at Bristol City, as The Lions look to make it back-to-back away wins against Derby County at Pride Park.
Gary Rowett returns to another of his former clubs for the weekend contest, against a Rams side who sit 16th in the Sky Bet Championship table with 26 points under Phillip Cocu. The Lions slot into 13th following the completion of the midweek fixture programme, four points ahead of their opponents with 30. Cocu’s side are without a win in four, struggling for consistency in the first half of the campaign.
Derby County have been a Championship outfit since 2008, following their relegation from a sole season in the top flight. After a lowest-ever points total for the Premier League in the 2007/08 season of just 11, with one League win, Derby endured a slow rebuilding process and three successive bottom-half Championship finishes, before placing in the top half for every season since 2011/12. Four of the last six seasons have seen The Rams in the Play-Offs, but the club have just fallen short of a return to the big-time. Derby’s debut in the Premier League lasted six years between 1996 and 2002, and enjoyed their finest heyday in the 1970s – lifting the First Division title in 1972 and 1975. The club won the FA Cup in 1946 – dispatching Charlton Athletic 4-1 – and have earned six promotions from the second tier.
Derby are steadily building after a whirlwind past few months – not least their Play-Off Final defeat to Aston Villa of last season, followed by off-field controversy. Exciting times have arisen at Pride Park with Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney officially joining as a player-coach on 1st January. Summer recruits have included Krystian Bielik and Graeme Shinnie, along with the loan arrivals of Kieran Dowell, Matt Clarke, Jamie Paterson and Ben Hamer. Scott Carson has been loaned out to English champions Manchester City as a homegrown player, with former England man Ashley Cole retiring after last season. Craig Bryson, David Nugent and Bradley Johnson were among those to move on, along with the permanent transfer of none other than Millwall captain Alex Pearce to SE16.
Phillip Cocu is an icon of the European game and has been since the 1990s, enjoying an illustrious playing career and an impressive coaching CV which made him the obvious and exciting choice at Pride Park following Frank Lampard’s departure for Chelsea in the summer. The Dutchman boasts a strong pedigree on the sidelines, having not yet reached his 50th birthday but has spent four years as the Netherlands national side’s assistant manager – after over 100 senior caps – before managing PSV Eindhoven for over five years, winning three Eredivisie titles. He spent a short time at Fenerbahce in 2018, before trying his hand in the English game. As a midfield player, Cocu made over 600 professional appearances for the likes of Barcelona, PSV and Vitesse, before hanging up his boots in 2008.
Millwall and Derby have met on 56 past occasions, with 21 wins apiece. The Lions’ recent record against The Rams is a positive one, having done a League double over their opponents last season with a 2-1 Den win, and most recently a 1-0 success in the East Midlands back in February – Jed Wallace netting the decisive goal.