Cocu hails Derby unity after difficult week

Derby manager Phillip Cocu believes the 1-0 win over Hull was proof of the strong connection between the club and their fans as they ended a difficult week on a high.

It had been a tough build-up to the game, with midfielder Krystian Bielik suffering a serious knee injury before Derby were charged by the EFL on Thursday with a breach of spending rules.

But the Rams were unbeaten in five games in all competitions and they extended that run after Matt Clarke headed in a Tom Lawrence corner for his first Derby goal in the 64th minute.

Cocu acknowledged the importance of the victory, saying: “I’m very pleased the team could give a good win to please the fans and confirm the connection between the fans, club and the team is very positive.

“We stand for each other and protect each other. We don’t like it when someone touches the club in this way, so I’m pleased we got three points.”

Derby claim that the charges levelled against them are “unlawful”, but Cocu refused to discuss the situation.

“I’m not going into the subject,” he commented. “I think the club has made it very clear in the statement, so let’s leave it at that. I don’t like to go into details about it.

“Of course, it’s not pleasant for anybody, not only the players, a lot of people work at the club.”

But Cocu was happy to highlight Clarke’s contribution.

“He was close in the previous game with a header, but now he’s scored his goal,” he said.

“He develops in a very positive way because he had to change quite a lot in his game when he came to us.

“He’s somebody you really have to push from the training pitch, he always does extra to try and be better, so it’s no coincidence you see a positive development.”

Hull head coach Grant McCann described the Derby goal as “unacceptable”.

“We lost the game on a set play, something we pride ourselves on, and there’s not been many occasions this season where we’ve lost our man,” he said.

“Three of our biggest players were in and around Clarke but he managed to get a free header in our six-yard box, which is unacceptable. Simple as that.

“I thought we were the better team in the first half, we had the better opportunities. Jarrod (Bowen) had a good chance to put us one-nil up but they came more into it in the second half, so it was probably a tale of two halves.

“The Championship is a game of fine margins, there’s no mistake about that, but what I did say to our boys is we’ve lost 11 games and that’s not good enough.

“Yes, we’ve won 11, but losing 11 is not good enough for us and we’ve got to address that.”