There was no fanfare for Steve McClaren, whose last term of managerial duty in the East Midlands, two years ago, left an entry on his CV he might prefer not to dwell on.
The former England manager, who won only two Championship matches as Nottingham Forest manager before resigning after 112 days, eschewed the pre-match introduction that is customary for new managers, preferring to let his team speak on his behalf.
In that regard, their eloquence delighted him. Producing at times the kind of flowing, attacking football that was familiar in the Derby side that McClaren coached in the late 1990s, when he was Jim Smith’s assistant, they lit up the stadium, and thoroughly outplayed Leeds.
Pride Park had witnessed a 45-minute burst of the McClaren effect last Tuesday, when Derby – with caretaker manager Darren Wassall in charge – recovered from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 after McClaren’s half-time intervention.
McClaren’s first game in full control brought a continuation of that mood, bringing two goals inside the opening 23 minutes as Leeds found themselves unable to resist the speed of Derby’s movement. Chris Martin scored their first after 20 minutes, then Johnny Russell doubled the lead three minutes later.
Leeds snatched a goal back just before the break after Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant failed to deal with a far post cross and allowed Paul Green to turn the ball back across goal, where Jason Pearce appeared to head into an unprotected net.
With McClaren now at pitchside, having watched from the stands in the first half, man-of-the match Craig Bryson set up Will Hughes to score a sublime third for the Rams. “There is a lot to do and we won’t do it overnight,” McClaren said of the task ahead of him. “But I was delighted with the character of the players after a traumatic week.”
Derby (4-3-3): Grant; Smith, Keogh, Whitbread, Forsyth; Hughes, Russell, Eustace; Bryson (Buxton, 89), Martin (Sammon, 82), Ward (Bennett, 68).
Leeds (4-4-2): Kenny; Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Warnock; Austin, Green (Poleon, 62), Tonge (Diouf, 76), Mowatt; Hunt (Smith, 62), McCormack.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.
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