Liam Rosenior says Derby’s 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough has to be a “watershed moment” for the club.
The Rams remain rooted to the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table after goals from Britt Assombalonga and Marvin Johnson, and an own goal from Matthew Clarke, condemned them to a deserved defeat at the Riverside Stadium.
Derby remain under the caretaker control of an interim managerial team comprising Rosenior, Wayne Rooney, Shay Given and Justin Walker.
A takeover process is ongoing that should see Abu Dhabi royal family member Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan installed as the club’s new owner.
For now, though, the focus has to be on turning the season around, with Rosenior admitting things are in a bad state.
He said: “It was painful, chastening, but what I would say is that they are a good set of lads.
“They are not bad people or untrustworthy, but we’ve got a young squad and we’ve got to learn quickly what it takes to win games in the Championship.
“You need to be competitive and win headers and second balls, but I feel there’s a real lack of confidence at the moment.
“I think that has to be a watershed moment – not just for the season, but for the football club. I didn’t see this performance coming, that’s the most painful thing.”
Steve McClaren was appointed as Derby’s new technical director and advisor to the board at the start of the week, and the former England manager was present at the Riverside Stadium.
Rosenior said: “He’s been with us today. He had no input with the tactics or team selection, but I’m delighted he’s here because he’s someone who has been there and done it.
“We’ve had good conversations with him, and his experiences are good for us. Hopefully, he will have a helping hand with us in terms of turning things around.”
Middlesbrough scored three goals under Neil Warnock for the first time, and having promoted Duncan Watmore and Patrick Roberts to the starting line-up in an attempt to offer more of an attacking threat, the Boro boss was delighted to see his changes pay dividends.
He said: “It’s a hard league this league, and you’ve got to get goals. You’ve got to look at how you can get more goals, and I felt the only way we could get more goals was by being a bit more positive in the wide positions.
“Even when we changed it and had two full-backs again (after the substitutions), they were still more positive.
“It’s not a natural thing for a wing-back to makes runs inside and support a striker, whereas Duncan does it automatically.
“(Marcus) Browne, who is injured at the minute, is the same. You’ve got to have something like that in games. It allows us to have different options instead of just being rigid.”