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Birmingham’s Rowett renaissance slipping under the radar with all eyes on Clement

20 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Birmingham’s Rowett renaissance slipping under the radar with all eyes on Clement

With the new Derby boss targeting a first win against Birmingham on Friday, his opposite number is quietly showing him exactly how it is done

Since being relegated from the Premier League with a lowest ever points total in 2008, Derby County have tried everything to find the right man to lead them back into the top flight.

They have gone down the nostalgic route in hiring Nigel Clough – son of the legendary Brian who took the Rams from Second Division obscurity to First Division champions – but he was unable to bring back the glory days.

They have given a big name a go, offering former England manager Steve McLaren the chance to prove his doubters wrong after success on the continent – but late defeat in the 2014 Play-Off Final before missing out altogether with a final-day capitulation last season put paid to that plan.  

And so we come to their latest experiment, with the left-field appointment of a potential hidden gem in Paul Clement.

The gamble is certainly a calculated one.

After all, this is a man who has coached some of the best players in the world under Carlo Ancelotti on his way to winning the Premier League, Ligue 1, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League with Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid.

Yet having failed to win any of his first four games in charge, questions remain about whether the former PE teacher can make the step up and end Derby’s long search for a saviour.

Clement has the chance to register his first victory on Friday when Derby take on Birmingham City, where he will come up against another former assistant capable of stealing the limelight on the touchline at St Andrews.

Gary Rowett’s career path may not have been as illustrious as that of his opposite number, but that is not to say that it is any less impressive.

Having served under Paul Peschisolido at Burton Albion for three seasons following their promotion from the Conference, he led the Brewers to successive finishes in the League Two play-offs after taking the reins himself.

It was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who took them up as champions last season, but there can be no doubt that it was Rowett who laid the foundations for such success before his move across the Midlands.

Birmingham were second bottom of the Championship when the former Blues defender arrived in October having just been thumped 8-0 at home to Bournemouth – their seventh loss in their first 14 games.

They finished the season in 10th, going on to lose just eight more times during the last seven months of the campaign.

Much of that recovery came at St Andrews, where City conceded just 15 goals in 16 home games that brought nine wins and five draws.

Crucially, their good form has continued beyond the summer – taking four points from their first two games this season with a win at home to Reading and an excellent draw away to Burnley.

Attacking midfielder Jon-Miquel Toral – on loan from Arsenal and formerly of Barcelona’s academy – has already scored in both of those games, and the Spaniard is 13/2 to score at any time in a Birmingham win on Friday.

Derby meanwhile have drawn all three of their league games so far – with the last two both finishing 1-1 – and are 7/2 to share the points once more with both teams scoring.

They can however take heart from their most recent visit to St Andrews which saw a 4-0 win on Boxing Day, a scoreline they are priced at 50/1 to repeat this time around.

Following such an underwhelming start, the pressure is certainly on Clement to pull something out of the bag and kick-start Derby’s promotion push.

Yet with a revitalised Birmingham also dreaming of a Premier League return under the impressive Rowett, don’t be surprised if he is made to wait a little while longer to show exactly what he is capable of.

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