UWE Rosler has urged his Leeds United players to have “no fear” at Derby County on Saturday in a bid to seal a first Whites win of the season – and first victory at Pride Park since 2002.
Rosler is still seeking his first competitive success as Whites head coach and now takes Leeds to a side hotly tipped for promotion under new head coach Paul Clement, formerly of Real Madrid.
United must also buck a trend that has seen them lose their last seven visits to the Rams, who were last beaten at home by Leeds in the Premiership fixture of April 2002 when Lee Bowyer bagged a 16th-minute winner.
Nine winless trips have followed since relegation and United are completely unfancied by the country’s bookmakers with the Whites as big as 11-2 to oblige with Bet365.
But Rosler firmly believes his men have the goods to cause a surprise with the German in no mood to send Leeds into action to shut up shop and take another draw.
Indeed, Rosler knows what it takes to win at the iPro having guided former club Wigan to 1-0 and 2-1 Championship victories respectively in January and October 2014.
For all that they remain fourth-favourites to win the division, Derby also approach this weekend’s televised fixture still seeking their first win of the season having also taken four successive draws.
“Everyone knows how important it is to win football games,” said Rosler.
“Three points are much better than one.
“But the team knows how solid and how difficult to beat we’ve been. It’s a good combination of desire and hunger.
“The most important thing is that there’s no fear.
“Derby County can be, at times, intimidating because of how they played the last couple of years, how they invested in the team.
“From my observation, the team is not showing any signs of fear going to Derby.
“It’s just for us to make sure that we get a result there and in the last 18 months I got two wins over there with my team.
“I spoke with the players and we have to have respect for Derby like any other team but we can’t go there and show them too much respect.
“I think it’s really important that we go there and put ourselves in a position to win the game. “
Rosler will be boosted by the return of midfield star Lewis Cook in midfield with the 18-year-old having completed a three-game ban.
Cook’s energy could be crucial to the German who has certainly done his homework into analysing the hosts – particularly when it came to Derby’s recent 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.
“Derby had 600 passes and Middlesbrough had 250 or 240,” explained Rosler.
“There will be a massive effort needed without the ball, there is no question.”
“I don’t think we can allow that to happen – that Derby has 600 passes.
“We have to be very good against the ball and very good in transition, like the two goals against Bristol City.”
United looked to be cruising towards their first victory in that particular fixture before self-imploding in the final minutes to throw away a 2-0 lead and draw 2-2.
Rosler thinks Leeds can make amends at the iPro, but is warning that only a performance out of the very top drawer will do.
“Average performance isn’t good enough to get a result there,” said Rosler.
“We need a top performance.
“Derby try to wear you out and you have to keep your concentration.
“No-one should be thinking about after the Derby game.”