Derby County are searching for a new manager after Dutchman Phillip Cocu left by mutual consent last week following a poor start to the season.
Cocu was a commendable figure at Derby. The former Barcelona man is calm, assuring and respectful while his actions both on and off the pitch merited praise.
Derby, however, are bottom of the Championship table after back-to-back home defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Barnsley just before the international break.
One win in 11 games and just five goals scored simply isn’t good enough.
Cocu’s exit is bitterly disappointment. While some players may welcome a change, others stand to suffer and here we look at three players who may now face an uphill task.
Curtis Davies started the campaign as arguably Derby’s sixth choice defender.
The Rams have Mike te Wierik, Matt Clarke, Andre Wisdom, George Evans, Craig Forsyth and the returning Krystian Bielik who can all feature at centre-back.
But Derby turned to Davies when Cocu switched to a back-three system.
Davies played in the middle, supported by two other centre-backs either side. The 35-year-old didn’t have to move much and was a colossus figure as always in the air.
But should the next manager resort back to a back four, it’s likely Davies will miss out.
The former Hull City man isn’t renowned for playing out from the back. Moreover, his lack of pace and the required extra movement in a back four also weighs against him.
Graeme Shinnie is another player who benefitted from Cocu switching to a back three.
The Scotland international initially struggled to make an impact at Derby. However, he gradually grew into the side, before becoming a mainstay over the past two months.
Shinnie has started ten Championship games so far. He provides a shield for the defence, averaging 2.1 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per league encounter.
But should the next manager look to play a more attacking side with quick ball retention and a higher press, then Shinnie may find himself out of the starting XI.
Jason Knight, Max Bird, Duane Holmes and Louie Sibley are also vying for a central role, while the returning Bielik could also feature as a lone holding midfielder.
Arguably no player has benefitted more from Phillip Cocu’s reign than Tom Lawrence.
After the winger was involved in the infamous off-field incident which ended Richard Keogh’s Derby career, some supporters wanted the Rams’ number 10 gone from the club.
Lawrence was given a second chance by Cocu and the club. Moreover, he posted his best season tally of his career with ten goals last term, playing a more predominant role.
Derby signed Lawrence from Leicester City for £5 million in 2017.
The 26-year-old is inconsistent to say the least. But under Cocu last season [post September] he started to show real maturity, while his disciplinary record improved.
But will the next manager show the same faith? Summer signing Kamil Jozwiak’s best position is on the left, while Sibley and Morgan Whittaker arguably have more potential.