Assistant Manager Liam Rosenior says Derby County’s players and staff are driven to make the club’s supporters proud.
The last fortnight has been a challenging period off the field after the Board of Directors announced the intention for the club to enter administration on 17th September.
Once that process was finalised last week, the Rams were deducted 12 points by the EFL and went from the edge of the play-off places to the bottom of the table.
In the most challenging of circumstances manager Wayne Rooney, his backroom team, players and the club’s supporters have faced up to the challenge head on.
In many ways, staring into the face of adversity has brought everyone connected with one of the English football’s founding members closer together than ever before.
Derby are back in Sky Bet Championship action on Saturday afternoon at Pride Park Stadium when they face Swansea City (3pm kick-off) and Rosenior is confident something special can develop from a testing set of circumstances.
Speaking to RamsTV ahead of Saturday’s match, Rosenior said: “We one million per cent have a sense of responsibility and the manager has been outstanding in that regard.
“The message we give to the players is to ‘show who you are’. It is easy when things are going well to put a smile on your face and go out and play, but when things are tough you have to show your character and resilience.
“It is a true test of who you are. I cannot be any prouder of the players in how they’ve represented the club, while everyone around the place on the staff are supporting myself and the manager so we can do our jobs.
“It is a difficult time but in a strange way it is something I am quite proud to be a part of. I know in the future I will look back on this time and be proud of the people I have worked with.
“The most important thing is that we represent the club in the right way. Derby County will always continue and the fans are the most important and biggest part and we just want to make them proud, week in week out.
“The situation has brought us all closer together, every single member of staff, and the supporters have been magnificent.
“I think it is showing on the pitch how together everyone is and I hope we can enable that to continue. Out of a difficult and troubling time for the club, something special can develop after that.”
He added: “I’d be lying if I were to say it hasn’t been a difficult time and seeing people you work with scared to lose their jobs does put things into perspective.
“What I will say about football, and not just this club but throughout the world, is that it lifts people and everyone working at this football club have done it proud.”
Derby were 1-0 winners over Reading in midweek courtesy of Craig Forsyth’s first-half header.
It was the defender’s first goal for some five years and while there were a few nervy minutes late on, the Rams more than deserved all three points.
It took them back into positive points, onto one point, and Rosenior felt the side’s performance was excellent from start to finish both in and out of possession against a side that had won their three previous league fixtures.
He said: “What stood out for me, in every aspect, was that the players were outstanding.
“In the first half we were exciting, built from the back from Ryan Allsop in goal, created chances and played through the thirds.
“As well as that, we played with an energy and intensity and that’s what we want to see. In fact, five players broke their personal best in terms of high intensity distance covered in the 90 minutes.
“We want to see a group of players that want to play, but also give everything when we’re out of possession. We saw that on Wednesday night.”
Rosenior has also thanked the Derby faithful for their backing throughout the campaign.
At a time when the side have needed their encouragement more than ever, they’ve responded by creating an atmosphere where the players know the fans are with them every step of the way.
It’s not just the players that feel motivated by the passion in the stands with Rosenior admitting the fans’ positive vibes are reaching the technical area too.
“The supporters are so important and, at the moment, it feels like there’s about 40,000 fans at matches at Pride Park and I cannot thank the supporters for getting behind the team,” Rosenior said.
“They have to stay with us. We know we will make mistakes along the way, and there will be bumps in the road, but the players feel how behind them the fans are.
“We feel it as staff too; I go out in the local area and people have come up to me saying how proud they are. It makes you not want to let them down.
“When four minutes went up for added time against Reading in midweek I heard a roar from the crowd that made me think to myself: we’re not going to concede a goal here.
“That’s what fans can give you, that belief. At the same time, I hope we can give them something to shout about as well.”
The visit of Swansea is Derby’s final fixture before the October international break.
The side are unbeaten on home turf this term and after starting the season with three successive league draws, they have recorded back-to-back wins at Pride Park against Stoke City and Reading.
Rosenior is anticipating a tough test against last season’s beaten play-off finalists but he is confident that the Rams can impose their style of play on their opponents.
“Swansea have a very distinct style of play and their manager believes in having possession of the ball, which is something he did very well at MK Dons last season,” he said. “I watched their game against Fulham in midweek and they had 65% of the ball, albeit they ended up as the losing side, and we know it’ll be a difficult test.
“We know what we’re going to be up against. We will have to be really organised and compact without the ball.
“What we want to see is us playing with the same energy and quality that we did against Reading on Wednesday.
“We need to try and impose our game and style of play onto them, which we believe is clear to see now. If we do that, we’ll have a good chance of getting a good result.”