This article was originally published on the Penalty Magazine website.
In the 2007-08 Premier League history was made when Derby County were relegated with a paltry 11 points, the league’s lowest points total since the introduction of 3 points for a win in 1981. They hold the record for the fewest wins in a Premier League season and were the first club in Premier League history to be relegated in March. To summarise they’re technically the worst team to play in the Premier League. Being a member of the worst team in Premier League history could be something that followed a player or manager for the rest of their career. In this article we’ll take a look what happened to those involved in Derby’s disastrous season.
After orchestrating promotion via the play offs in his first season as manager, Billy Davies was gearing up to face the biggest challenge of his career. As history shows he was probably not ready for the challenge and after butting heads with those in charge of the purse strings Davies left by mutual consent in November 2007. Since then Davies has taken charge of Derby’s bitter rivals Nottingham Forest not once but twice and he was sacked by both. His second spell was the most controversial one as he sacked long-serving club staff, banned journalists and lost 5-0 to his former employers Derby. Since 2014 he has remained without a team and his managerial record what probably not helped by his time at the helm of the Rams.
After Davies the board brought in former Wigan manager Paul Jewell to stem the tide of losses. Unfortunately he was unable to affect things. It wasn’t until the next season that he recorded his first victory against Lincoln in the League Cup. Derby’s trend of defeats continued into the Championship and with the team lying in 18th place, Jewell resigned from the club. After his spell at Derby, he returned to the football wilderness until 2011 where Ipswich took a chance on him. He faired a little better at Portman Road but left by mutual consent in October the following year. He can now be seen as a sometimes used pundit for Sky Sports News.
Derby’s goalkeepers didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory, having the joint lowest clean sheets in the league with 3. Derby tried out 3 goalkeepers in the league – none of whom really helped.
Making 18 appearances, Stephen Bywater was Derby’s first choice keeper for the first half of the season. With hopes of playing for England Bywater was excited to make an impression. Unfortunately as Derby sat bottom of the table the impression wasn’t exactly a positive one. He joined Ipswich on loan for the second half of the season where he made a total of 17 appearances. Bywater stayed at Derby until 2011 when his contract was terminated by mutual consent. He then joined Sheffield Wednesday after spending time there on loan. Time at Millwall and Doncaster Rovers followed before signing with Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League.
A free transfer signing in January to replace the departing Bywater, Carroll made 14 league appearances between the sticks for Derby. The former Premier League and FA Cup winner came to the club with a big reputation but he was unable to turn that into clean sheets. After Derby he went to Denmark to play for Odense Boldklub and then spent four years in Greece at OFI Crete and Olympiacos respectively. In 2014 he returned to the East Midlands to play for Notts County.
Secured for an undisclosed transfer fee from Ipswich Town at the start of the season to provide backup for Bywater. He went on to make 6 league appearances and in future seasons went on to loan to MK Dons, Luton Town and Brentford before departing on a free transfer to Crystal Palace. He also made just 6 appearances for Palace and can now be seen plying his trade at Sheffield Wednesday.
Although Derby had a high number of defenders, they were unable to stop the goals, letting in 89 during the season.
First choice left back Jay McEvely made a total of 29 appearances in the league for County, scoring two goals. His appearances for Derby attracted the attention of then Scotland manager Alex McLeish who gave him two caps for Scotland. Since leaving Derby in 2010 McEvely has pulled on the shirts of Barnsley, Swindon Town and Sheffield United where he is currently playing.
Making a total of 117 appearances for Derby, Leacock was somewhat of a stalwart for the team. Making 26 league appearances during the 2007-08 season, his career has gone downhill since his time in the Premier League. Dropping down the leagues, he played for Leyton Orient, Notts County and Crawley Town. Tipped by some to become the new Rio Ferdinand, Leacock now plays out of the football league for National League South side Whitehawk FC.
Brought in to control the back, veteran defender Alan Stubbs was signed in January on a free transfer. Making just 8 appearances Stubbs did make history though as he was involved in the campaign of the teams with the two lowest points total in Premier League history. Stubbs finished his career at Derby, retiring the following season due to a recurring a knee problem. He then moved back to Everton in the role of a coach before succeeding Terry Butcher as manager of Hibernian.
Son of Derby great Colin Todd, there was a bit of pressure for Andy Todd who arrived at the start of the season from Blackburn for a fee of £750k. Whereas his father played 293 times for the Rams, Andy managed just 30, half of which occurred during the 2007-08 season. After Derby, Todd spent time in Australia playing for Perth Glory and Armadale respectively. He is now an assistant for NIFL Premiership club Linfield in Northern Ireland.
A free transfer from Portsmouth, Andy Griffin made 15 appearances for Derby before being bought by then Championship side Stoke in January for £300k. After Stoke he played for Reading, Doncaster and Chester Griffin is now using his 18 years of experience in football to help cultivate players of the future as a coach for Newcastle-under-Lyme College Football Academy.
A controversial signing according to fans due to his £3 million transfer fee, Davis made 19 league appearances for the club at the heart of the defence. The Jamaican international went on to play for Crystal Palace, Crawley Town and Rotherham United and is currently looking for a new club.
Bob Malcolm may be a forgotten name amongst Ram fans, making only one appearance during the 07-08 season, a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool. Malcolm was suspended by Derby after he was charged with drink driving and his career was seemingly over with the club. This was proven to be true when Paul Jewell chose to pay out his contract. After stints at Motherwell, Brisbane Roar, Dundee and Cowdenbeath, Malcom retired to start his coaching career. Working with Barry Ferguson at Blackpool, Ferguson decided to continue their working relationship when appointed manager of Scottish side Clyde, recruiting him as a coach before promoting him to assistant manager.
Receiving Derby Player of the Season during such a bad one may be something to shout about but it’s still an achievement. Playing 32 times in the league, Moore was a constant at the back. Moore has now returned to his former club West Bromwich Albion as a youth coach.
Signed for £1 million from West Ham at the start of the season, Mears was brought in to add some pace to the defence. After already appearing for the club on loan the previous season fans knew what to expect from him. Unfortunately they didn’t get to see him at his full potential due to sustaining a stress fracture – resulting in a three month layoff. After playing abroad for Marseille and spending time at Burnley and Bolton respectively, Mears headed to the MLS in December 2014 to play for Seattle Sounders.
Brought in in January on loan from Manchester City to add some defensive steel to the defence, tough tackling Danny Mills played just two games in the league for the Rams. The one time first choice England right-back retired in 2009 due to injuries and can now be seen as a regular pundit on BBC.
Being voted second in the club’s Player of the Year in Derby’s promotion season, there were high hopes for Marc Edworthy. New transfers saw him pushed to the periphery of the squad and he made just 9 appearances in the league. After an 18 year career making 514 appearances Edworthy retired and is now Head of Sport at 3aaa.
A regular in Derby’s previous season, the former Celtic defender was ousted by the arrival of new defenders and played just one game – the aforementioned 6-0 defeat to Liverpool. The Guinea international finished his career in 2010 playing for Torquay United. He returned to Derby in 2014 and is now head of European scouting.
During the season, both managers experimented with different midfielders to differing effect.
After becoming an important player for Derby after his transfer from Manchester United, he found games difficult appearing just 14 times in the league. Deciding to move to get more game time Jones left for Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he made a return to the Premier League. A move to Wigan kept him there, and a move to Burnley in 2013 saw him make one final stop there. He is still playing at Burnley and is a regular for the side.
On arrival to the Premier League Matt Oakley admitted the squad may struggle unless Premier League experience was added. Over the course of the season he was proven right. Named team captain and being an important player for the team it was somewhat surprising that Oakley was allowed to join Leicester at the end of the season. After making 137 appearances for Leicester he moved to Exeter in 2012 and is still playing there.
Making 22 appearances for Derby, Fagan was allowed to join Hull City on loan as he was deemed surplus to requirements by new manager Paul Jewell. The deal was made permanent and he remained at the KC Stadium until 2011. Bradford, Bury and Gillingham were next before taking a trip overseas to play in the Singapore League for Brunei DPMM. Now currently doing his UEFA A Licence, Fagan may be moving to the touchline very soon.
A US international, Lewis was bought in for an undisclosed fee from Leeds. Playing 24 times, he was released the following season and returned to America to play in the MLS. After 2 years at LA Galaxy he now runs a series of coaching seminars in America.
Having already achieved promotion to the Premier League already in his career, with Wigan, Gary Teale brought much needed experience to the side. Although appearing 22 times, the arrival of Paul Jewell saw the player being shipped to Plymouth, to “regain his confidence”. Even when Derby went down to the Championship he was played sparingly by Jewell. It wasn’t until the arrival of Nigel Clough did he get a run of games. After three and a half years with the Rams, Teale left the club, moving to Sheffield Wednesday. He then moved on to play for St Mirren, later becoming player-coach and finally player-manager in the 2014-15 season. After failing to secure the manager’s job on a permanent basis, Teale left St Mirren.
Arriving in the January window, Australian winger made 12 appearances for Derby, becoming a regular in the side until the end of the season. Frozen out the next season, it wasn’t until an impressive performance against Manchester United in the League Cup for the fans to see how good Sterjovski could be. He retired in 2014 after playing in China and Australia respectively. He now runs an academy in his native Australia.
Making just one start for Derby, Benny Feilhaber is a name that may have flown under the radar. He appeared a further 9 times as a substitute but soon left after one season to play in the Danish Superliga for AGF Aarhus. After three seasons in Denmark he returned to America and the MLS with New England Revolution and Sporting Kansas City, who he is currently contracted to.
Making a 115 appearances for Derby, the 2007-08 season was not one to remember for Stephen Pearson. Although he played in the league 24 times, he was deemed not needed by Paul Jewell and was sent on loan to Stoke the following season. He then spent time at Bristol City before moving to India to link up with Stephen Bywater at Kerala Blasters. After a season on the continent, he returned to Britain, playing for Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership where he is contracted to until 2017.
Revered as a cult hero for Newcastle thanks in part to his reputation of a free kick specialist. Arriving in January as a free transfer to provide much needed Premier League experience. Unfortunately he didn’t provide much in the way of game time only appearing 4 times. He continued his storied career y playing for Toronto FC and finishing his career in Greece at Larissa. Since then he’s been pretty quiet, but he’ll be forever known for his talent with set pieces.
A product of Derby’s youth system, Giles Barnes made an impression in Derby’s promotion season playing 39 times in the league. He continued his development in the Premier League playing 21 times, impressive for an 18 year old. Moves to West Brom and Doncaster didn’t see him capitalise on his potential. After a move to the MLS with Houston Dynamo, Barnes has become an important player for the team. Still aged only 27, we could still one day see the return of Barnes to the Premier League.
A player shrouded in controversy at his parent club due to his antics on the pitch, Ghaly was sent on loan to Derby for the second half of the season. After a successful time at Derby, he went back to Tottenham but was not well received by fans and soon completed a move to Saudi club Al-Nassr and is currently playing for his first club, Al-Ahly in Egypt.
A graduate of Manchester United’s academy, Robbie Savage was bought in with bags of Premier League experience. Playing every game of the second half of the season, Savage was a constant for the Rams, staying there until his retirement in 2011 after making a total of 124 appearances. After being known as the dirtiest player to grace the Premier League his reputation has gone through something of a renaissance. After a successful stint on Strictly Come Dancing, he is now a regular for BT Sport and BBC as a pundit and a personality.
Tasked with scoring goals Derby’s four strikers failed to make a difference in games, scoring a collective 9 goals throughout the whole season.
Brought in at the start of the season to provide the team with goals, Kenny Miller was Derby’s top league scorer with 4 goals. The fact their top scorer only scored four showed their ineptness in the league. He played just one season at Derby before returning for a second spell at Rangers. He then played in Turkey for Bursapor, Wales for Cardiff City and then in the MLS for the Vancouver Whitecaps before returning to Rangers for his third stay at the club, where he remains to this day.
A then record transfer fee of £3.5 million was spent acquiring Robert Earnshaw for the 2007-08 season. He struggled to make an impact in the side, starting just 7 times and making a further 15 appearances as a substitute and scoring just one goal. The fact he was allowed to go to Derby’s biggest rivals, Nottingham Forest, highlights his ineffectiveness. Since then he has played in Israel, returned to the Championship to play for Blackpool and played for three separate teams in the MLS. Currently playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Named Derby’s Player of the Season for 2006-07, there was somewhat high hopes for Steve Howard. Unfortunately like Derby, Howard found life in the Premier League very difficult – scoring just one goal. In January he was sold to Leicester, where he linked up with Matt Oakley. He spent 5 seasons with the Foxes before moving to Hartlepool Town, where he ended his career. He now runs an investment company which advises young players on how to spend their money wisely and avoid bankruptcy.
Signed to replace the departed Steve Howard, Villa was an unknown in England. Making a total of 53 appearances and scoring 9 goals for the Rams, he didn’t exactly leave his mark. After Derby he returned to playing in Mexico, and he is currently at Ronaldinho’s former club Queretaro.