Gary Rowett rates Derby County’s victory at the Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough as one of his best at the club, after Matej Vydra’s hat-trick led the Rams to a brilliant 3-0 win.
The Czech forward struck three times to extend Derby’s unbeaten run on the road to six games, and he reached double figures for the season in the process.
Rowett admitted that the victory is ‘up there’ with his best days with the Rams, and he was understandably thrilled with the performance, especially in the second half.
He told RamsTV: “It was a brilliant afternoon and it’s up there with some of my best moments at Derby County.
“This isn’t an easy place to come, there are massive expectations on Middlesbrough to get promotion this season after coming down last year.
“We were better in the second half, we stepped up, put them under pressure and got the penalty. We had another four or five good chances and we probably should have made it 4-0 or 5-0.”
Vydra has now scored 12 goals in just 15 games in all competitions this season, and the treble was the forward’s first ever in league football.
Rowett believes that getting the best out of Vydra is key to the Rams' aspirations, and he praised the Czech for making the number 10 role his own this term.
He said: “He deserves it because he works incredibly hard and he’s got the ability to make things happen.
“He’s the most obvious number 10 that we have and for me, it’s his only real position, because if you put him out wide then he has to start tracking full-backs and as you can see, he doesn’t like doing that!
“He needs the space to be able to go either way, he needs the space to run into the openings and at the moment, him and Nuge [David Nugent] have got a really good understanding.”
Derby’s form on the road has picked up since a disappointing 4-1 defeat to Bristol City in September, and Rowett pinpointed the one key area that his side have improved on in recent weeks.
He added: “You have to navigate difficult moments and you have to show character, which this team is starting to do more and more.
“When we’re winning, we manage games really well and we make good decisions, our game management and composure at the moment is probably allowing us to win games and keep clean sheets.
“We’re six games unbeaten away from home, and we’ve been to some really difficult grounds as well.”