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Steve McClaren Makes Startling Claim About Richard Keogh

Steve McClaren Makes Startling Claim About Richard Keogh
By Gavin Cooney
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Steve McClaren is back in football management at Derby County, following his brief spell as a comedy punch line. There is a strange alchemy at work here. McClaren has proved himself incapable of managing successfully elsewhere (See Nottingham Forest, ) but, for some reason, he manages to strike success at Derby.

In his first spell in charge, he twice brought them agonisingly close to promotion: losing the play-off final in his first season, before a close-season collapse in form saw them miss out on the play-offs on the final day of his second season in charge.

Via his disastrous spell at Newcastle, McClaren has now returned to Pride Park, and has presided over a remarkable surge in form. He replaced Nigel Pearson in October, with the club 20th in the Championship with just ten points in eleven games. Today, Derby are seventh in the table, two points adrift of the play-off places.

Crucial to this run, per McClaren, is captain Richard Keogh, and believes that Keogh is the best centre-half in the Championship:

I said to him last week, he is the best centre back in the Championship.

Keogh leads by example, and did so again on Saturday.

Keogh was not first choice when McClaren arrived, but was immediately restored to the starting line-up by the returning manager. Keogh has an astonishing run of selection under McClaren: he has made 95 consecutive starts under the returning manager, a run that stretches back to January 2013.

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But the claim that he is the best centre-half in the Championship is startling, given that he is not considered an automatic selection ahead of Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy for Ireland, both of whom are playing at the same level.

Via WhoScored.com, Keogh averages 0.9 tackles per game, along with 1.3 interceptions, 6.6 clearances and 0.3 fouls, awarding him an average rating per game of 7.10. 

The same website awards Duffy a higher average rating: 7.61 owing to a higher number of clearances (8.9) and tackles (1) per game. Ciaran Clark scores better than Keogh, also, at 7.31. 

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[McClaren quotes via Derby Telegraph]

See Also: Jose Mourinho In Dig At Antonio Conte While Admitting Wayne Rooney May Leave

 

 

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