GARY Rowett returned to haunt Birmingham City yet again.
And the former Brum boss admitted: “It’s nice to win here, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.”
Thirteen months after his shock St Andrew’s sacking – with Birmingham on the edge of the play-offs – the Derby boss showed what they are missing for a second time.
He did it last April with a 2-1 win.
And he kicked sand in their faces once more more with a that win underlined Derby’s promotion credentials – while Birmingham are still stuck a relegation battle.
Blues have had three managers since axing Rowett – a decision that looks a real own goal after the club’s Hong Kong owners fell out with him.
But Rowett was keen not to rub his former club’s noses in it.
He said: “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to win a game here, but it doesn’t mean it’s more special than anywhere else.
“Credit to the players, we’ve won 3-0 on the road at difficult places, we’ve done it time and again at difficult places. That’s 10 games unbeaten away from home and we’re playing with a real control.”
Rowett says he is ‘bored’ with talking about his dismissal now.
And no wonder – he is moving on.
If Carlsberg did weeks then it would probably look like Rowett’s last seven days.
Monday: He was linked with the Stoke job; Tuesday: He agreed a bumper new Rams contract; Friday: Rowett was named Manager of the Month; Saturday: Beats Birmingham to stay second in the table.
If Derby do go up, then they will look back on this as a key few days when they managed to stave off Premier League interest and hold on to a manager who could take them into the top flight.
Rowett added: “In some ways, it suits us away from home if we get put under pressure. We’ve got the players open up teams when they’re on it, but I still think we’ve got more.
“We’re starting games with a real humility, they know they’ve got to work hard.
“The second you stop doing what’s got you into that position, you can very quickly move in the other direction.”
Birmingham boss Steve Cotterill described Derby’s attack as ‘lethal’.
But it took a deflected Johnny Russell shot to open the scoring for Derby against the run of play after Brum had dominated the early stages.
Jonathan Grounds hit the post and player of the month Scott Carson saved from Craig Gardner’s long range effort.
But top scorer Matej Vydra rifled home his 16th goal in 22 games to increase Derby’s lead after the break after an excellent ball from Tom Lawrence.
Grounds hit the post again as Birmingham tried to grab a consolation.
But Derby grabbed a late third when sub David Nugent and Andi Weimman combined for the Austrian to score.
And the stats make encouraging reading for Rams. They are now unbeaten in eight games and have lost just twice in 20 games while keeping six clean sheets in their last eight.
Cotterill said: “We didn’t deserve to lose 3-0, but they have a lethal front four whoever they perm – they will score goals most weeks, they’re a top team.
“We have to take this defeat, as tough as it is, then try and go on another three game winning run.
“But their opening goal was deflected and that takes it away from the keeper.
“The second goal was poor defending by us.
“We need three midfield players in to strengthen us.
“But I think we could’ve had a penalty when Sam Gallagher was brought down in the first half.”
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