Wayne Rooney was left to rue Derby County’s lack of
cutting edge in the final third as they were beaten 1-0 by Millwall at Pride
Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Shaun Hutchinson’s header just before from half-time, following a left-wing corner for the visitors, proved to be the difference in a game of few chances in the Sky Bet Championship.
Craig Forsyth and Kamil Jozwiak both forced routine saves from Bartosz Bialkowski in the Millwall goal in the first half before Hutchinson found the net as he found himself unmarked to score.
The closest Derby came to levelling was when Louie Sibley hit the crossbar following a corner late on.
Despite dominating in possession and getting into some good attacking areas out wide across the 90 minutes, Rooney felt his forward players needed to do more.
Derby have failed to find the net in their last four outings and Rooney told RamsTV shortly after the final whistle: “It is not what we wanted today and I think we were the better team throughout the 90 minutes.
“We controlled the game, but I was disappointed with what I saw in the box in terms of our attacking and also their goal.
“For the attacking players, that is where they need to come alive. I thought we put some good balls into the box, but they (attacking players) need to be hungry to score and today it did not feel like we were.
“Generally, we have got the goals when we have needed them since I have been in charge and today it wasn’t to be.
“I have said to the players in the dressing room that if I were a defender or midfielder, I would be asking the attacking players some questions.
“We got in some good positions and put some good balls in. They were wasted because our attacking players weren’t willing to put their body in there to get across defenders. It has cost us today.”
He added: “These days can happen and, for example, against Wycombe it went for us when we won and didn’t deserve to. Today I felt we were the better team and lost the game.
“We need to want it. It needs to mean more when we get into the final third because if it doesn’t, in this league, you won’t score.”
Derby did not move the ball quickly enough for Rooney’s liking in the opening 45 minutes.
The introduction of young midfielder Louie Watson and winger Patrick Roberts off the bench before the hour mark provided fresh energy and attacking intent.
“In the first half the tempo wasn’t quick enough in possession,” Rooney said. “It was a bit better in the second half when Louie Watson and Patrick Roberts came on and I thought they caused Millwall some problems.
“Louie was again prepared to take risks with the ball. He moves forward and he is a creative player.”
Derby return to action at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday night when promotion-chasing Brentford are the visitors (7pm kick-off).
The two sides played out a 0-0 draw in West London earlier in the season and Rooney has stressed the importance of the Rams’ preparation over the coming days
“It is a tough game; we have to get ready,” he said. “Every game in this league is tough and we need to get ready and go again Tuesday.”