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Wayne Rooney and Derby stars save Phillip Cocu’s job with tactics intervention

Wayne Rooney and senior Derby players may have helped save Phillip Cocu's job by convincing him to modify his tactics.

The struggling Rams picked up their first Championship win of the season at Norwich from Rooney's superb late free-kick in a 1-0 triumph.

It eased the pressure on County's boss Cocu after opening with three straight League losses to spark fears of the axe ahead of the international break.

The victory followed Cocu tweaking his tactics in the team meeting in their hotel in Norwich before the game.

Cocu was outlining his plans for the Carrow Road clash when senior players spoke up.

They said Derby needed to be much harder to play against after their previous 4-0 home defeat to Blackburn, when they trailed 3-0 at the break.

Senior players argued for the Rams to be much more aggressive out of possession to harry opponents more.

England's record goal-scorer Rooney,34, a player-coach at Pride Park, then voiced his support for the approach before Cocu agreed to adopt it.

Reflecting on the win, Dutch coach Cocu, 49, said: “They gave the confirmation to themselves about what we spoke about in our meetings about what we should put on the pitch as individuals and as a whole.

“That has to be on the pitch every game.

“It is regardless of whether we play a fantastic game of football where everything goes to plan.

“Some games we struggle for whatever reason but we still need that attitude.

“You never know in football but I think this is an important turning point.”

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Cocu enjoyed a distinguished career in midfield for Barcelona and Holland and has got Derby playing out from the back since replacing Frank Lampard in July 2019.

The 20th-placed team came 10th in his first season and return to action at home to Watford next Friday.

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