Gary Rowett's Derby face Nottingham Forest on Sunday
The last five east Midlands derbies have all featured different managers in each dugout. Thankfully for Rowett and his Forest counterpart Mark Warburton, who moved in to their respective hot seats just prior to the last encounter in March, they have at least bucked that trend.
Rowett joked: “As any manager will say, you want time, but as a manager you know that you won’t get time. I think I’m the third longest serving manager in Derby history at the moment with six months.
“That’s being facetious but my view has always been the same. Myself and my coaching staff had a relative amount of success at Burton and Birmingham by trying to build the club how we thought regardless of whether we got the time to continue that process.
“That’s how I’ve always looked at it so I will look at Derby as the next five years of what I think the club needs to be successful. But of course, you want short-term results to back that vision up.”
Time was the commodity Rowett wasn’t given at Birmingham. Or rather he was initially as he transformed a side that was languishing second bottom of the Sky Bet Championship when he took over in October 2014 only to be sacked inexplicably with his side just outside the play-off places last December.
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The playing style of Rowett’s team at St Andrew’s was criticised by owners Trillion Trophy Asia, who brought in Gianfranco Zola to adopt a more expansive game.
As Rowett settled into three months out of work before Derby appointed him, the Zola experiment almost ended in relegation to League One. Even Harry Redknapp’s magic touch hasn’t worked as, he too, was sacked last month.
Rowett said: “We had one of the lowest budgets in the division and it was one of the first transfer windows coming up in that January where we were actually going to be given some money to be able to change things.
“I remember them giving me the decision. We had won the night before and I actually asked why we were being sacked for winning too many games.
“I laughed about it in a way at the time because I didn’t think there was any point in being angry about it or disappointed.
“What Birmingham’s results afterwards showed me was that actually a lot of the things we were trying to do at that time were probably the right things to do – the way we played, the way we tried to get results, the type of recruitment that we did, we felt that we maximised what we had.
Gary Rowett's Rams currently sit 15th in the Championship
Derby have managed just three wins so far this season
“If we had tried to go down a different route, which other managers did afterwards, then we wouldn’t have had the success that we had. We might have looked a nicer team but we wouldn’t have had that success.
“I look back at Birmingham with fondness and there’s still a little bit of me would like to go back and sit on the terraces when the fans are singing ‘Keep right on ..,’ because it’s an amazing experience.
“But you move on and my focus is now on trying rebuild Derby and it’s taking a lot of energy. Derby have to be challenging for promotion and we know that at the moment we’re not doing that and I’ll be the first one to say that it’s not acceptable for us.”
Rowett played in the east Midlands derby, yet he admits he sees the fixture differently now that he is managing in it.
“As a player I probably didn’t appreciate the rivalry as much as I do now as a manager. The big thing as a manager in it is that as much as you look forward to the game, as much as you’re excited by the game, there is a little bit of thinking: ‘Please don’t lose.’
“I’d be lying if I said that both me and Mark weren’t thinking that, but we’ll go out to try and win the game. Games between Derby and Forest are fantastic occasions but we’ve got to make sure that we get the result.”