Gregory learns from Villa experience

Derby boss John Gregory believes his experiences while manager at Aston Villa have held him in good stead during his time with the Rams.

Derby boss John Gregory believes his experiences while manager at Aston Villa have held him in good stead during his time with the Rams.

Gregory has come under fire from disgruntled fans, taken flak from out-of-favour players and is under internal investigation following allegations of injuries being mistreated.

Nonetheless, the Pride Park chief is determined to laugh in the face of adversity and insisted his stint in the Villa hot-seat taught him everything an under-pressure manager needs to know about rolling with the punches.

Gregory quit as Villa boss in January 2002 after enduring an uneasy four-year relationship with chairman Doug Ellis.

Just a week later, he was installed as sacked Colin Todd’s replacement at Derby but proved unable to prevent the Rams tumbling out of the top-flight, nor their alarming slide down the Division One table this season.

Gregory’s side lie 20th in the table – just eight points and two places above the First Division relegation zone – going into Wednesday’s pressure-cooker clash with arch Midland rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

But Gregory, who has signed Birmingham City striker Tommy Mooney on a month’s loan, insisted he was not fearful of the sack despite the Rams’ under-achievements this term.

“I spent four years looking over my shoulder at Villa so I became immune to the pressure and the media hysteria which goes with it,” he said.

“I’ve come to realise that if things go wrong then the manager tends to get it in the neck.

“I was made well aware of that, as you know, in my last job, but I’m enjoying it here.

“I had a real buzz yesterday because I sat down at five o’clock in the afternoon and I realised I’d been on the phone since 11 o’clock making calls about Tommy Mooney’s loan.

“I went to Birmingham to see Steve Bruce at their training ground – Brucie was brilliant – and Tommy was on loan at Sheffield United as well earlier in the season so I was on the phone to Neil Warnock up there as well.

“It was like that all day, me chasing around for six hours non-stop to sign a player. It was brilliant.”

And with the financial constraints set to ease at Pride Park, Gregory is optimistic Mooney’s arrival will be the first of several.

Gregory said: “Yes, I’m hoping we can add to Tommy’s signing before transfer deadline day.

“It’s been a tough 12 months for the club but now there’s a feeling around the place we’re making some progress.

“We’ve had the transfer embargo lifted which allows us to go out and not exactly spend lots of money, but perhaps make one or two loan signings which are not really going to cause us any problems on the financial side.

“I’ve got to stick to a budget within lines but I’ll spend the club’s money carefully.

“There are 12 contracts which will be expiring at the end of the season, some of which will not be renewed, and that will cut out a huge amount in salaries over the summer when we’ll be able to match income with expenditure.

“Then, hopefully we’ll be okay.

“But with Nick Chadwick already here on loan from Everton and Tommy Mooney arriving as well, we'll get to have a look at one or two loan signings who may be worth a more permanent deal.

“And then I hope we can bring in four or five or six new signings for next year.”

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