After experiencing play-off heartache just a few months ago, Derby fans will be fully expecting another concerted tilt at promotion again this term and if successful, they may just be joined by bitter rivals Nottingham Forest.
No set of fans would have revelled more than Forest’s over the way Derby were denied passage back to the Premier League in such cruel fashion against QPR, having been the better team for the vast majority.
Nevertheless, with Steve McClaren at the helm and having kept hold of star player Will Hughes things are looking pretty rosy at Pride Park, which befits the Rams’ joint 8/1 favouritism to win the Championship title.
McClaren may have his detractors, but he is arguably the best manager in the division given his CV contains a League Cup win and UEFA Cup runners-up medal at Middlesbrough, plus a Dutch title at Twente.
Then there’s the three Premier League titles and an FA Cup winners’ medal as assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson in earlier days at Manchester United.
Although things went awry with England, Wolfsburg and ironically Forest, the man who won the second division at Derby as a player in the 80s has a face that fits on the white side of the east Midlands.
Meanwhile, over at the City Ground Stuart Pearce has the tougher gig as Forest finished 20 points shy of their rivals pace in 11th – seeing the Tricky Trees priced up at 5/1 for promotion this time around.
However, ‘Psycho’ has inherited a talented squad who spent the majority of the season in the play-off places last term, before agonisingly tailing off in the final quarter.
Again Pearce has his doubters, but again he’s vastly experienced and a face which fully fits the club which made him an England regular.
Most importantly Pearce has been doing sterling work in the transfer market, where he has added proven second-tier goalscorer Matty Fryatt and hot Dutch prospect Lars Veldwijk, who has been prolific in Holland.
Former England U21 charge Michael Mancienne will also add meat to defensive midfield and full-backs Danny Fox and Jack Hunt also look promising signings.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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