Nigel Clough is convinced Derby County’s much-acclaimed team spirit will be more important than ever in the 2013/14 season.
The togetherness and strong bond within the Rams’ dressing room has been regularly highlighted throughout the last two seasons.
Whether it be the players digging deep for each other on the pitch or during the regular team bonding sessions and events, there’s a real family feel about the squad Clough has assembled.
Clough is convinced that the feel-good factor off the pitch has an impact on it, and he believes his six summer signings have settled in just as quickly as the likes of Richard Keogh, Paul Coutts and Conor Sammon when they arrived at Pride Park a year ago.
He said: “I hope that the lads who have signed have been swept away by our team spirit like the others have been in recent seasons, because we have an excellent spirit and feel about the squad.
“The group we have are very welcoming and make it easy for those who arrive.
“For example the four or five we signed last summer felt comfortable and at home within a month.
“All six of our signings so far will have no problems I am sure - especially as two of them were on loan here last season in Chris Martin and Craig Forsyth.
“I heard Chris actually said in the media that within a few weeks of arriving on loan in February he felt like he had been here all season, which is a testament to the players and how quickly they can make players feel at ease.
“It’s important because you don’t want players taking a long time to settle and feel at ease.”
Although team spirit and a good camaraderie doesn’t necessarily win matches, Clough believes it can play an instrumental role along the way.
He reckons Derby’s close-knit squad put their closeness to good use last season – and he hopes that it can evolve even more to help push the side onto greater wins and unbeaten runs in both 2013/14.
He said: “A team spirit and closeness doesn’t bring assured success but it can play a huge part.
“At times we’ve seen the bond between the players pull us out of a few difficult situations and the fact we didn’t lose more than two games in a row last season speaks volumes.
“There won’t be many teams in the Championship that managed that over 46 games, because it’s very easy to lose three or four games in a row.
“We’ve halted those losing streaks, so now we want to see if we can string a few winning runs together this season.”
Watch more from Nigel Clough in an exclusive interview on Rams Player.