Steve McClaren says there’s a real ‘buzz’ around Derby County – and he’s determined to make it last as long as possible.
Derby will return to Sky Bet Championship action on home turf for the first time in almost a month this evening against Middlesbrough at Pride Park Stadium (7:45pm).
After picking up three wins in a row to move into the Championship’s top six and just one loss in eight matches, McClaren has noticed a real air of excitement amongst Derby supporters.
Tickets have been selling well for tonight’s clash with the club McClaren began his managerial career with back in the early 2000s and he has been pleased to see a high level of interest in his side.
He told Rams Player: “The first thing we wanted to create when we came here was a buzz about the place.
“It’s great that it has happened quickly, because of the results and performances of the team.
“Our priority was always to get some interest back into this Football Club and give it some excitement.
“The players are certainly doing that and it the proof is there because the fans are coming back.
“We need to keep performing now and keep giving them a reason to come back, buy their tickets and support the team.”
Now Derby have broken into the playoff spots in the Championship, McClaren says a challenge has been laid down to the squad to maintain their form and not take their foot off the gas.
He says the mentality of the squad will have a big part to play and he explained: “The mentality we have, to make sure we don’t get carried away, is dressing-room driven.
“We can give everyone all the warning signs, tell the players to keep their feet on the ground and talk about it in the press with the old clichés, but it is down to the mentality of the players.
“It’s what they want to do really.
“Do they want to continue with this or do they think they’ve done enough, be happy and relax?
“What we have to do is make sure we prepare every single day in the right way and make sure the players know their jobs.”
McClaren says the players deserve a huge amount of credit for the position Derby find themselves in with the Christmas period fast approaching.
“The majority of the credit has to go to the players for what’s been achieved so far because they’ve recovered from what was a setback to them when they lost Nigel Clough a few months ago,” he said.
“The reaction to get the results and play like we have has been brilliant but it’s now down to how far do they want to go?
“We can lead them to water, we’ll make sure of that, and from there it’s kind of a challenge to the group every single day.”
McClaren looks back on his time in the North East with great affection but he insists sentiment will have to go to one side and he is aware of the threat his former employers provide.
Aitor Karanka recently replaced Tony Mowbray in the hotseat at the Riverside Stadium and McClaren said: “It is another game but of course Middlesbrough is a club I have affection for because I had my first managerial job there.
“We had some great times there and I was lucky to work under Steve Gibson, who was brilliant with me.
“There were some great nights in Europe and perhaps they are more special than I thought at the time being involved in it all.
“Looking at the present day they are under a new manager and they’ll be very, very tough opponents.
“They got a win at the weekend which will have lifted their spirits and they’ll want to take that good feeling into the game and keep moving up the table.”
Watch Steve McClaren’s full pre-match interview on Rams Player.