Swansea 2-1 Derby: Wayne Rooney’s woes deepen as Rams slide perilously close to drop zone with Morgan Whittaker and Connor Roberts strikes cancelling out Tom Lawrence opener
- Tom Lawrence opened the scoring as Derby started the game promisingly
- They couldn’t hold on though as Morgan Whittaker and Connor Roberts scored
- Derby are in serious danger, hovering just three points above the drop-zone
- Rotherham are the team three points below Derby, but have a match in hand
Wayne Rooney’s troubled first season in management will extend into an agonising final week after defensive lapses plunged his team further into the relegation mire.
Not even the four-day bonding session in South Wales that preceded this latest defeat could help them summon up the will to hold on against opponents already assured of a play-off place.
His Derby team find themselves only three points above Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham, with the latter having a game in hand and two games left as opposed to the one of their rivals, who will meet next weekend.
Swansea’s victory over Derby on Saturday has left the Rams in serious trouble of relegation
Wayne Rooney’s side face a nervous final game of the season, hovering above the drop-zone
‘It’s the same thing every week, I can’t fault their effort but we have to stop giving these goals away,’ said Rooney. ‘It was almost a replica of the last few weeks. It’s very frustrating.’
An hour in, with results going their way, the decision to take the players away had looked like a masterstroke, but that all crumbled within three minutes.
‘We prepared excellently, it was a chance to get them together and put in some hard work. If we had won it would have been fine, I knew if we didn’t there would be questions,’ he said.
‘The one thing you can’t really work on is individual player’s concentration. Every time we switch off we seem to concede.We have left ourselves with one game we have to win.’
Derby had taken the lead in the match with Tom Lawrence scoring in the 48th minute
The Rams could have all-but secured their Championship future if they had held onto the win
After a season of constant challenges, which has included everything from dubious ownership bids to questions over wage payments to key injuries, the next seven days promise to be the most testing of all. Third tier status, sunk to for the first time since 1984, is a real possibility.
‘I need to make sure that the lads are ready and that’s all I can focus on,’ added one of England’s greatest players, reduced to the role of onlooker from the sidelines after his retirement.
With only one win in fourteen games he will need to pick his men up off the floor, their dismal sequence having offered Wednesday and Rotherham an unlikely path to redemption.
Rooney had reason to feel confident after an hour with the live table showing that safety, Derby’s sole ambition after so much strife, was well within reach.
There was any crowd in to communicate an update, but Rotherham were losing and the visitors to the Liberty Stadium were ahead after Tom Lawrence had headed in Nathan Byrne’s cross from close range.
The Swans drew level through Morgan Whittaker in the 63rd minute, sparking the turnaround
With Colin Kazim-Richards a physical threat up front they were starting to play with an assurance that belied their precarious position.
Then came the double punch which might yet become the defining three minutes of a campaign shot through with problems extending far beyond the trials of Covid.
First Derby old boy Morgan Whittaker met the flick of Ban Cabango with an angled header on the far post that dribbled over the line beyond the despairing hand of Kelle Roos.
That was compounded when Swansea, who had posed little threat, made it two from almost exactly the same spot. Connor Roberts was fed by Matt Grimes and volleyed the ball home.
On the sidelines Rooney spun round in anguished disappointment. What had promised to be a blissfully straightforward final week in which plans could be made for the future will now the be the latest stage of his crash course in crisis management.
Connor Roberts finished the job for the Welsh hosts, whose play-off spot is already assured