Manager Phillip Cocu admits Monday night’s opening Sky Bet Championship fixture against Huddersfield Town will be a tough encounter - but he is interested to see how his Derby County side will cope with their threats.
Following a two-year stay in the Premier League, the Terriers were relegated last season with 16 points from their 38 games.
They have managed to keep hold of a number of key players and are one of the favourites to win the Championship, so it is expected to be a good test for Cocu’s side.
“It’s a difficult start, of course,” Cocu told RamsTV. “They were relegated last season but there is potential in the team and they have really good players.
“They manage the ball very well but it will be good to see how we do against Huddersfield. They are a quality team and they are the favourites for promotion.
“To play an away game, we can see how the team is doing in these circumstances. How we can manage the ball, how we can still play our own game and it’s something we look forward to.”
A lot of the hard work has already been done ahead of the game. Pre-season was productive for Derby.
The players enjoyed 10-days in Florida whilst had competitive friendlies which have prepared the side for Monday’s season opener.
It’s been a whirlwind first month for the manager who himself has had to settle into a new life in a different country after taking over at Pride Park Stadium last month.
“It was a new start and we needed to find a balance with working with the staff who were already present and the players who are here,” he said.
“The changes have not been too big with the former manager and the approach of the game so it makes it easier for the players to cope with the difference we implement.
“Every manager has his own philosophy and will adjust a little but in general it’s not too different so hopefully we can make a good start.”
Targets are usually spoken about at this stage of the season and Cocu believes its important to set targets for different stages of the season.
“We had some different meetings about all kinds of stuff and today we have a meeting about what will be the goal and what we look to achieve in the long term and short term,” Cocu admitted.
“If you only set a goal for the end of the season then it will take long for the players to see the bigger picture until the end.”
The manager, however, would not be pushed on team selection for Monday’s game against Huddersfield but did admit: “I have an idea of how we are going to play,” he admitted.
“It’s not 100% but I would say 95% sure.”