I think people are starting to like me, says Savage

Derby captain was written off but is leading Rams' charge towards top flight

Robbie Savage is a self-confessed neurotic, but you always suspect it is the unpredictable nature of his life that keeps him thriving. Two years ago, after Derby's disastrous season in the Premier League, the consensus was that, at 34, football's flaxen-haired pantomime villain was finished, his legs gone and his usefulness outlived.

Ordered to stay away from the Derby team as the former manager Paul Jewell grappled with a downward spiral he was unable to reverse, Savage went on loan to Brighton, in League One, a career largely spent respectably near the top end of the game seemingly heading for an ignominious end.

But then Derby took a gamble. They appointed Nigel Clough, a man who, through the identity of his father, could not have a higher pedigree among Rams supporters but whose track record in management amounted to 10 years with one non-league club.

Sceptics wondered whether Clough, always perceived to have more in common with his mother than Brian, would be tough enough, let alone experienced enough, to cope. Yet now Derby sit among the play-off places in the Championship and Savage, the write-off, is wondering whether he might yet squeeze out another year on his contract. Life has taken a turn for him as unpredictable as he could imagine.

"When Nigel came in it gave me another chance," he said. "I just wish now that I was five or 10 years younger. All the work Nigel has done is starting to produce results and I just want to be part of it."

Savage does not blame Jewell. "I did not perform for him and it did not work out," he said. "But Nigel judged me on what he saw, gave me a chance to show what I could do.

"As a manager he can go to the very top, like his father, and I'm not just saying that because he made me captain and I think I'll gain something by saying nice things about him. He is a nice man, a great guy, but he has something about him, like Martin O'Neill has and Brian probably did, that sets him apart. People don't realise the job he has done. He had to take on a club with a massive wage bill and not only cut it but build a competitive team. He has just got on with it and never moaned."

Maybe Clough's cleverest move has been to allow Savage to develop his fledgling media career, in which he has become a popular presenter on the BBC's 606 phone-in, while still playing. "What manager would let a player do that?" he asks. "It has allowed me to pursue an ambition and being on radio has changed people's perceptions of me. I've still got a lot to learn and I must try to be more diplomatic at times, although I'll never be a sit-on-the-fence pundit – there are already too many of those. But 606 is now the most listened-to football phone-in on radio and I think people are starting to like me.

"On the field, Nigel has adapted my game so I have a role in front of the back four, winning the ball and giving it to more creative players and I'm comfortable in that. I know he has a hard side and if he feels that I'm embarrassing myself, that I'm going to be a bit-part player, he will tell me. But I'd love to stay another year. We're at the right end of the table and people have smiles on their faces."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003