New Derby County Head Coach Has Sights Set on the Premier League

Paul Warne

Derby County announced the appointment of Paul Warne as their new Head Coach on Thursday. The 49-year-old has left his post at Rotherham United after nearly six years in charge of the club.

Derby club captain Curtis Davies has shared details of his initial conversation with Warne. Speaking on BBC Radio’s Football Daily’s 72+ show, Davies claims Warne is not just stepping down a league to aim for promotion but is looking into the long term and taking Derby to the Premier League.

New Derby County Boss Paul Warne Has Big Aspirations

Popular Figure to Remain at Derby as a Coach

Warne has signed a contract until summer 2026, along with three members of his backroom staff. It has been reported that previous interim manager Liam Rosenior will remain as part of the coaching team at Pride Park.

Following Wayne Rooney’s departure from the manager’s position at Derby in the summer, Rosenior was named interim manager. Many viewed him as the natural choice as he had been a key figure at the club for three seasons. There were even suggestions that he was mostly responsible for the tactics during Rooney’s reign. A number of the new signings over the summer also spoke about Rosenior selling the club to them. He seems to have been a large part of the reason many wanted to sign, and is popular among the playing staff.

In his 12 games in charge this season, Derby have had a lukewarm start to the campaign. While dominating matches, they have struggled to convert possession into goals. A common criticism has been the lack of cutting edge and there appeared to be no Plan B.

There have been positive signs though. At half-time in the last game against Wycombe Wanderers, they were 1-0 down and hadn’t posed much of a threat. However, just after half-time, Rosenior made two substitutions for the home side. He changed the shape to three at the back with attacking wing backs. Following this alteration, they were much more of a threat and ultimately turned the game around to win 2-1. This was the first time that Rosenior drastically switched his tactics to deviate from his usual precise methodical play. Some thought this may have shown enough adaptation and development to buy him more time. However, it seems judgment had already been passed with the international break an ideal time to make a change.

Paul Warne at a Career Crossroads

Paul Warne had been manager of Rotherham United since 2016. In that time, he has been promoted from League One three times. He has done so on a tight budget by utilizing the strengths of his players in an effective system. On this basis, it seems like he could be a smart choice for Derby, who want to get back to the Championship at the first time of asking.

The point had been raised that with Rotherham currently sitting eighth in the Championship, can he take them any further? He has been loyal to Rotherham, as they have to him, through three relegations. It is being viewed by some as a good time to move on while his stock is high, as Rotherham may have hit their glass ceiling. He has been linked to various managerial vacancies, including Huddersfield Town.

Although it involves dropping a division, Derby are a club with a higher reputation and are in a league he knows well. They are currently operating under an agreed business plan following their emergence from administration which will restrict money. However, they have been smart in the transfer window, and on early showings look as though they should at least be in the mix for playoff places.

The Risks Involved

There are always risks associated with such an unpredictable sport. In this case, there is a potential clash in styles of play between Rosenior and Warne. Rosenior has built this squad almost from scratch, with the aim of playing attractive possession football. While that has not fully come to fruition, the tactics which are associated with Rotherham under Warne have historically been more direct, although in the last two seasons they have become more expansive.

While becoming harder to beat will be a welcome change for Rams fans, the question remains whether the players assembled this summer will be capable of playing in this way. However, the new manager is confident, as demonstrated by his apparent phone call with Curtis Davies.

From Warne’s point of view, moving away from familiar surroundings is a risk. He was part of the furniture at Rotherham even before he took the top job. Stepping out of his comfort zone to a bigger club with a greater weight of expectation will be a challenge, but one he will feel he has built enough experience to take. On the face of it, this seems to be a very shrewd appointment. Warne will be looking to hit the ground running away at Cambridge United after the international break, with Derby searching for an elusive first away league goal and victory.