“I Don’t Know Who I’m Cheering For” – Derby County Manager Makes Promotion Admission

Derby County manager Paul Warne has admitted that he doesn’t know who he will cheer for when Portsmouth take on Bolton Wanderers later this month.

The Rams are currently five points behind John Mousinho’s team, who are top of the pile in League One. Meanwhile, Bolton sit in third, four points further adrift. However, Derby have played a game more than both teams as we enter the business end of the season.

Portsmouth had to rely on a stunning strike from Owen Moxon to rescue a valuable point against their promotion rivals on Tuesday night, a result which puts the 2008 FA Cup winners firmly in the driving seat in the race for the title. With the East Midlands side only having 12 points left to contest, it would take a huge blip in form to see them surrender their lead at the top.

Whilst there is still hope though, Warne is reluctant to give up without a fight. The 50-year-old has admitted he is still targeting a League One winners medal:

“I don’t want to sound like the Bayern Munich manager and congratulate them on the title, but we will set out to try to win the next four games,” he told Derbyshire Live. “If we get 12 points they still have to get seven from five. I am not saying they won’t by the way. But getting points is hard at this time of the year.”

With Wycombe Wanderers contesting in the EFL Trophy final against Peterborough United this weekend, Derby are without a fixture. Instead he will have to wait until next Wednesday to visit Adams Park, by which time Bolton could be breathing down their necks if they can pick up three points at Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Ian Evatt’s men then host Portsmouth at the Toughsheet Community Stadium the following week, with Warne unsure on who he would like to emerge victorious:

“It’s different teams, different challenges at this time of the year. Pompey play Bolton soon and I don’t know who I am cheering for.”

Finally, the former Rotherham United boss admitted he was disappointed to leave Fratton Park with only a point, having twice surrendered the lead:

“I just thought when we went to Portsmouth on Tuesday and I said to the lads that if we play fearlessly and you have that feeling of winning and getting back on the bus, it’s irreplaceable. But I can’t be disappointed with the performance, I am just disappointed we didn’t get more than a point.”

Derby do have a favourable run-in to the end of the season. Aside from Wycombe, they face Leyton Orient, Cambridge United and Carlisle United in what they hope will be enough to see them return to the second tier.

Writer’s View

It’s an optimistic view from Paul Warne, but football is a game of many surprises. Whilst incredibly unlikely, Derby can mathematically still win the title, although it is hard to see any other outcome than Portsmouth going up as champions.

Bolton should be the main concern here. They could move to within a point of their promotion rivals this weekend, meaning that the Rams would be under pressure to reciprocate that result against Wycombe next week. If they are still within touching distance before they welcome Pompey to the North West later this month, momentum could carry them through.

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