Liam Rosenior insisted there was plenty for Derby’s new coaching team to build on after a narrow defeat at one of his former clubs.
While Wayne Rooney led the team on the field as skipper and player-coach, Rosenior was a visible presence directing operations from the dugout and also took responsibility for the post-match press conference.
He had to reflect on a 78th-minute winning goal by City substitute Famara Diedhiou, allowed too much time and space inside the box to shoot past David Marshall, but otherwise saw plenty of hope in the Rams’ display.
Rosenior said: “The players gave us everything and we are proud of them. Apart from the goal, I don’t think Bristol created a worthwhile chance.
“We may not have had too many clear openings ourselves but we got the ball into dangerous areas on countless occasions and had two good penalty shouts.
“Those are things we cannot control. Rather than feeling that luck turns against you when you are bottom of the table, we want the players to take responsibility for the things they can affect.
“That will be the message when we play Middlesbrough in our next game. But I am not going to have a go at any of the lads today because they all were fully committed and tried their hardest.
“It was a proud day for me directing things from the dugout for the first time. At one point I passed a slip of paper to Wayne because I felt we needed to change formation and he passed the message on.
“He showed again what a great player he still is. But it is not about me or him at the moment, it is about four of us doing our utmost to bring the best out of the lads.
“We all have an equal say and that will continue. We have some very good players to work with, which is very important, and there were plenty of positives this afternoon.”
City head coach Dean Holden was equally proud of his team at the end of a week which saw their training ground closed until Thursday because of a Covid-19 outbreak.
“To play like that after only one and a half day’s training this week was an unbelievable effort by the players,” he said.
“I can’t stress too much how well they did in the circumstances. During an international break you normally have two weeks to build up to the next game.
“There was concern about the health of many players and staff, but they all responded professionally and the team looked solid and well-organised throughout the game.
“Derby should be at the other end of the table with the players they have and it was never going to be an easy game for us.
“I’m delighted that Famara got the goal because his response when left out of the team this season has been brilliant.
“We were up against one of the best players England has ever produced in Wayne Rooney and he showed how great he still is on the ball, even if he can’t get about the pitch as well these days.
“Rather than man-mark him, we set up as a team to counter his threat and defended some top class crosses into our box really well.
“The effort put in by every player after so little preparation was amazing.
“It was a fantastic win for us in the circumstances and puts us in a good position. But there is a long way to go.”
City goalkeeper Dan Bentley produced one moment of brilliance to keep out Martyn Waghorn’s sixth minute volley.
Other than that, there was little to trouble either keeper until Diedhiou’s decisive strike, despite some promising approach play from both teams.
With Rooney distributing the ball accurately from a deep midfield role, Derby had plenty of attacking play but lacked the final pass to create openings.
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