Former Derby County midfielder Craig Bryson told Steve Bloomer’s Washing podcast he didn’t see eye to eye with Steve McClaren following his 2013-14 playoff final snub.
Bryson left Derby to join Aberdeen this summer following eight years at Pride Park.
The three-capped Scotland international is a hugely popular figure among Derby fans. And, during his peak years, he was no doubt a top Championship player.
During his eight years, Bryson played under as many as six permanent managers. His best spell came under McClaren, but he admits they had a fractured relationship.
After the Wembley final it’s fair to say me and the gaffer [Steve McClaren] never seen eye to eye that much. I thought it might have been best to move on. I felt he picked a team for the final based on one game in the home leg instead of the 46 previous games. The way he told me that I wasn’t going to play wasn’t great. We never really had a great relationship after that final. He spoke to a couple of other players about how they would feel if I didn’t play in the final and I don’t think that was right.
Derby County’s playoff final defeat to Queens Park Rangers.
Bryson had his best season of his career in the 2013-14 campaign. McClaren took over from Nigel Clough early in the season and led the Rams to the playoff final.
The current Aberdeen man netted 16 goals and grabbed 13 assists that season. He was by far the most productive midfielder in the Championship at the time.
McClaren, however, opted against starting Bryson against QPR at Wembley. He instead named an unchanged side from the 4-1 second leg win over Brighton in the semi-final.
It was a difficult decision to make. After all, Jeff Hendrick and Will Hughes were also in excellent form and alongside George Thorne helped Derby utterly dominate Brighton.
But Bryson, who was injured for the second leg, had a point. His form over 46 games warranted a start, regardless of Derby’s performance at home to the Seagulls.
Bryson goes on to admit he nearly left Derby after the final defeat amid Burnley’s offer.
The Scot, however, signed a new five-year deal at Pride Park and became a cult hero. McClaren, meanwhile, was sacked a year later before returning for another brief spell in the 2016-17 campaign.