Wayne Rooney was full of praise for Derby County’s players after they claimed an impressive 2-0 home victory over Swansea City on Wednesday night.
First-half goals from Colin Kazim-Richards and Kamil Jozwiak saw Derby record their first win of the 2020/21 campaign at Pride Park Stadium.
Derby were full value for their victory too and could have had further goals in a dominant first-half display had Kazim-Richards and Jason Knight not been denied by the woodwork.
As well as extending their unbeaten run to six matches while Rooney has been leading the team, with the Rams waiting to appoint a permanent manager after Phillip Cocu’s departure in November, Derby have kept four successive clean sheets.
Rooney is pleased with the progress Derby are making as they begin to climb the Sky Bet Championship table but knows they can’t rest on their laurels.
“I think It has been coming,” Rooney told RamsTV. “The performances have been a lot better and I am delighted as I questioned the attacking players after the Stoke game for not scoring, which they did today, and we kept another clean sheet too.
“The first-half was excellent and we played some really good stuff. We changed the system a little bit so the players took the information in and it was a lot of work for them to do that both on the pitch and off the pitch in the way we played.
“It worked, so I am delighted for the lads. They deserved that. We are six unbeaten now, with four clean-sheets, and that is pleasing.
“It has been a big change for the lads to take on everything we are asking of them; it has been quite demanding. I am delighted for the players as they are starting to get the rewards they deserve.”
He added: “For the players I think it is a fantastic win but for us as the staff as well. It’s a great win against one of the top-six teams and that is something we failed to do last season.
“I might seem a little bit serious now, but we will enjoy it and go again on Saturday at Rotherham.”
Derby had not scored more than one goal in a game all season so Jozwiak’s strike before half-time, following Kazim-Richards’ early finish, provided much needed breathing space.
“That’s what we have been missing in games before, that second goal,” Rooney said.
“It eases the tension a little bit and I’m delighted for Kamil as well. He’s worked really hard, he’s getting better with each game and for him to get his goal, I am delighted.
“We showed two sides of us today. We showed we can play, we can play good football, create chances but also, like in the second-half, we can dig in.
“I never felt like Swansea were causing us that many problems in the second half, although we sat back a little bit.
“Ideally I’d like us to push forward a little bit and see the game out higher up the pitch. But credit to the lads they are working ridiculously hard and they got what they deserved tonight.”
Derby return to Championship action on Saturday with an away fixture at Rotherham United (3pm kick-off).