Gary Rowett’s eyes are firmly fixed on his debut in the Derby County dugout this weekend – but he certainly won’t let emotion get the better of him.Rowett was appointed as Derby’s new manager earlier this week on a contract until the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
His bow as the Rams’ boss will come on Saturday afternoon as Derby make the short journey across Brian Clough Way to take on local rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground (1pm kick-off).
Having played for Derby in the past and started his coaching career in the club’s Academy after hanging up his boots, in addition to living in the local area for several years, Rowett has a strong connection with the Rams.
A local derby meeting with the Reds is one to look forward to at any stage of the season, but this weekend’s fixture has a special ring to it.
That’s not just because of Rowett’s arrival, but also down to the fact Forest are too under new management following the appointment of former Brentford and Rangers boss Mark Warburton earlier in the week.
Rowett, however, is keen to get down to work and for Saturday’s game to come around – but he certainly won’t be letting carried away in the moment.
“My mind is very much on Saturday,” he told RamsTV.
“It’s a great move for me personally to be the manager of Derby County. That emotion has gone and the focus now is about how we win the game.
“I am mindful of the feeling but I want a strong performance. Regardless of the result, what is going to be important is that the players respond to what we’ve talked about in the week.
“If we perform well then we know we have a good chance of winning or getting a draw.”
Team selection is clearly a key topic on Rowett’s mind.
There’s an element of the unknown hanging in the air regarding how Derby will line up and who will start against the Reds.
Rowett, playing his cards close to his chest, has spoken regularly this week about how he may shuffle his side depending on the opponents.
With that in mind, Rowett says his main focus is making sure he names a side that can get a result against the Reds.
“The side that plays at the weekend might be a different one to the side that we name against Queens Park Rangers in our first home game at the end of the month,” he said.
“We will pick a team that we believe can go there and get a result, it’s as simple as that.
“Some players haven’t trained this week, or might not do so until Friday, so I’ll have a decision to make in terms of selecting the ones that have seen the bulk of our work and methods.
“I am really looking forward to the game. You have to get to the point where you say ‘this is what we think, this is what we feel has been missing and let’s go with that’.
“If it works, fantastic. Whatever happens, we’ll review it all on Monday morning and look to take things forward for the next game.
“That’s how we do things; we don’t tend to react much to particular games and build slowly, in order to try and fit the right players into our methods.”
Clearly a local derby occasion is one for the supporters of both clubs to relish.
Rowett understands only too well what is required in a game of this magnitude, having played in games between the two clubs in the past.
He has described the game as ‘self-motivating’ – and wants to see the side display the right balance of his principles when they step onto the pitch.
He said: “It is an interesting one and when you look at a local derby people say they want the players to understand the passion, commitment and what it means to the fans.
“Every game should be like that but, of course, a game against Forest is always self-motivating as it’s a bigger game in a bigger atmosphere.
“We have to find a way to find a balance around the principles we want as a club and a team, as well as having that absolute desire and fight to win every single battle that we go in to.”
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