McClaren plays down Newcastle talk

Derby’s head coach saw his side move up to third in the table after an Alex Mowatt own goal and a Jake Buxton header had secured an eighth home victory in nine games over Leeds.

McClaren’s work at the iPro Stadium in the last year has restored his reputation but when asked about Newcastle in the wake of reports that Alan Pardew is set to take over at Crystal Palace, he replied: “I think there have been about 10 linked!

“It’s the speculation season and all we can do is focus on what we are doing. We’ve got big games coming up and a job to do here.

“In the last year, I think we have established ourselves as a very good team, the club is building and growing and these are a great bunch of lads to work with and when they play like they did tonight, I enjoy watching their football.

“Their attitude is tremendous, they work hard and if we lose, it’s not through a lack of endeavour. They never stopped chasing for 95 minutes and that is the platform.”

Although Derby had lost at Elland Road in November, Leeds rarely looked like repeating that result even though they restricted the home side to few chances in the first half.

McClaren’s team enjoyed most of the possession but they had not had a shot on target until the Leeds’ defence was finally broken down in the 41st minute when Will Hughes fired in a low cross and Mowatt could only bundle the ball into his own net.

The result was settled two minutes into the second half when a Jeff Hendrick free kick was headed in by Buxton and although Leeds kept going, Derby ran out comfortable winners.

Leeds manager Neil Redfearn knows his team need a break after this defeat left them one point above the bottom three.

“I thought in the first half we frustrated them and looked balanced but goals change games and at this moment in time, for whatever reason, we are having no luck, it seems to be an own goal or a mistake that puts the opposition in front.

“We have hit a spell where we are finding it tough again but it’s important we are positive and keep together because that’s the way we will make it better. For too long there’s been too much negativity around the club and we’ve got to get some positivity

“We have a young side who are learning in adversity but it’s like the saying that it’s always darkest before the dawn. The owner has put a lot of money in and he’s got a plan and a vision and we are in its infancy but at this moment in time it’s tough.”