Derby set to give Rotherham a Championship baptism of fire
Having become another side to miss out on promotion from the Championship despite being well clear in third place, Derby will be looking to go one better this time round.
With Steve McClaren now tied down to a long term contract, that retribution could start with a bang on Saturday.
A new three-year deal was McClaren’s prize for steering the Rams to their best finish since dropping from the top tier, and a promotion push will be expected once again.
New arrivals Rotherham are the first visitors to Pride Park this time round, and the Millers’ introduction to a new level of football could be a tough one, with Ladbrokes going 8/1 for Derby to be the highest scoring Championship club in Saturday’s 3pm fixtures.
The former England boss has, in the past, got plenty of goals out of his teams from an early stage in the season. His first game as Derby boss saw them put four past Ipswich in a pulsating encounter, while FC Twente ran out 4-1 winners in the opener of the 2012/13 campaign under the 53-year-old.
But it is not just McClaren’s mentality that could spell trouble for the visitors from South Yorkshire.
Taking on last season’s top divisional scorers in your opening match at such a high level is tough enough, but when your own defence is questionable as well, things can go awry.
Steve Evans’ men conceded two or more goals in 15 of their 46 League One encounters last season, compared to fellow promoted club Wolves, who shipped more than one just nine times.
While they have recruited personnel to shore up their back-line, former England under-21 goalkeeper Scott Loach, and Blackpool’s Kirk Broadfoot included, Derby’s potent front-line could have a field day.
Broadfoot and Loach will have their work cut out to stop hitman Chris Martin if he continues where he left off after netting 22 Championship goals last season to finish fourth in the division’s goal-scoring standings.
With big money signings becoming commonplace in the second tier nowadays, and the gap between the Premier League and Championship seemingly closing, Rotherham may struggle to survive in this company.
Taking the 11/4 available with Ladbrokes for their stay to last just one season could, therefore, be a shrewd piece of business.
All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publishing
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.