Phillip Cocu enjoyed victory in his first game in charge of Derby County following a 2-0 friendly victory over Sarasota Metropolis on Wednesday - and he was pleased with how his side applied work from the training ground into a match situation.
Jack Marriott scored a brace in the second half to ensure the Rams kicked off their 2019/20 pre-season campaign on a winning note against the Blue Dragons in Florida.
There were plenty of positives to take for the manager who was satisfied with what he saw from his players in his first game in charge after almost a week of intense training in the United States of America.
Derby gave 22 players 45 minutes each at the IMG Academy as they got their first pre-season minutes under their belts.
“It’s always important for the players to start playing the first game,” Cocu told RamsTV. “We worked hard in the training sessions and work hard to play games so everyone was happy to play their first 45 minutes. Almost everyone could play.
“We ended up with a win. I’m always happy to win and I want to win every game. We struggled in the first half. They were defensive and compact, so we had difficulties creating.
“We had some possibilities but we couldn’t score and luckily it opened up in the second half. They couldn’t keep up the pace and we scored two good goals and could have scored a few more.
“We had some good chances but at this moment we had a few key elements he wants to see in the game and they really tried to put it in, that’s the most important stuff for this game.
“We focused on a few aspects during training and said to the lads ‘okay, this is important, let’s try and put this into the game’. We have to improve a lot of stuff and we will look back at it together tomorrow but I thought the intention was good.
“I thought the work as a team was good. I like to play offensive with the whole team, but that also means we have to defend with the whole team. I am quite satisfied with the performance.
“The games are important when we proceed in pre-season. The games will get more important but at this stage the training sessions and the work we are doing is the most important thing at the moment.”
Marriott’s double came in the second half as the Metropolis players started to tire and Cocu was impressed with what he saw from the striker.
“He played slightly different in a new role,” the manager admitted. “In the second half we played with two holding midfielders and a number 10 close to Chris Martin because he has a good eye on making the runs behind the defence.
“He is a great finisher and he showed it so it’s a great feeling for a striker to start with two goals.”
The game saw a healthy number of Derby supporters in attendance.
Travelling over nine hours to see their team in action, Cocu paid tribute to those that made the trip.
“That’s great,” he said. “I love it when you’re out on camp and you play the game and you see the flags and the supporters after the game coming to the players and it’s a great feeling.
“It’s a club that has a family atmosphere. Inside a team we have to demand the maximum on the pitch, in the training sessions but we also have to be there for each other.
“I think the fans show it. The fans travel a long distance to be here so it’s great for the supporters.”
Derby will face fellow Sky Bet Championship side Bristol City in Florida on Saturday, again at the IMG Academy with an 11pm kick-off UK time, before returning home from their training camp in Florida to step up preparations for the upcoming 2019/20 season on UK soil.