Steve McClaren took over the managerial position at Derby County following the sacking of Nigel Clough in Autumn 2013. McClaren wasn’t a popular choice at the time for Derby fans, yet he transformed the Rams.
After successive midtable finishes under Clough with a perceived negative playing style, McClaren’s side in contrast were exciting to watch. Derby quickly shot up the table in 2013-14 and went on to record some memorable victories before cruelly losing their playoff final encounter with QPR at Wembley.
McClaren was subsequently sacked after the 2014-15 campaign where another promotion charge ended in disappointed. Here we look back on his first five senior signings in charge of the club and where they are now:
Lee Naylor joined Derby on a short-term deal in February 2014 and made four appearances that season before signing a one-year extension in the summer.
The experienced left-back came in as cover for Craig Forsyth, having previously played for Celtic and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Naylor didn’t make a single appearance in the 2014-15 campaign, and now the 38-year-old is deemed retired having been without a club for the past four seasons.
The Texas-born defender joined Derby from Leicester City on a one-year permanent deal in the summer of 2014 having previously enjoyed a three-month loan spell at the club.
Whitbread was brought in as cover for Jake Buxton and Richard Keogh. The 34-year-old stayed at Pride Park for just one year, later moving to Shrewsbury Town before becoming a now free agent.
Cyrus Christie became McClaren’s first major signing for Derby. He joined from Coventry City in early summer of 2014. The right-back immediately became a first-team regular, providing a match-winning assist on his debut.
The Republic of Ireland international, however, frustrated supporters as he occasionally switched off defensively. Christie became a regular for his three seasons at Pride Park before moving to Middlesbrough.
In a strange twist, Christie lasted just six months at Boro before moving to Fulham, helping the Whites to promotion. He has since played 16 Premier League games for the London club this season.
Ivan Calero joined initially as an exciting youngster for the youth teams, but he quickly gained minutes for the first-team in cup competitions and netted on his debut in a 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic.
The former Spain U19 international had a loan spell at Burton, but he was subsequently released in the summer of 2016. He now finds himself back in Spain, on loan at Salamanca from second division side Elche.
George Thorne was Derby’s top buy under McClaren, after his impressive spell on loan towards the end of the 2013-14 campaign. He made up an exciting midfield trio alongside Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick.
Only four days after completing his transfer, however, Thorne suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury. It ruled him out for up to nine months. The 26-year-old then broke his leg on the final day of the 2015-16 campaign.
Thorne still remains at Derby, but he has been so unfortunate with injuries. The holding midfielder has only made 66 Championship appearances in five seasons, and is now on loan at League One side Luton Town.
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