What Derby County boss Phillip Cocu said about George Saville's red card and Middlesbrough win
Derby manager Phillip Cocu wasn’t sure if Middlesbrough’s George Saville should have been sent off but believes the midfielder gave referee Darren Bond a decision to make.
Saville was dismissed in the 32nd minute at Pride Park for a late tackle on Krystian Bielik, before the Rams secured a 2-0 victory over Boro courtesy of a Tom Lawrence double.
Derby were 1-0 up when the Teessiders were reduced to 10 men, yet the first-half red card all but ended the match as a contest.
When asked about the decision Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate said he hadn’t seen Savillie’s tackle back.
The same question was put to Cocu after the full-time whistle, to which he replied: “I don’t know if it was a red card but when I saw it on a phone I think he (the referee) can give it.
“The ball left his feet and then it was a really hard tackle so it’s up to the referee to decide in a split second.
“If you go in like this you have to be sure the ball is involved.”
While the red card gave Derby a significant advantage, Cocu said his side had to adapt after Boro switched from a back three to a back four.
“It was was interesting after it happened because we’d prepared for the game but then they changed to play 4-4-1,” added Cocu.
“We had to adapt a little bit to be able to get in good positions to keep the ball going so half-time was very useful.”
Cocu also admitted the result could have been different if Boro striker Britt Assombalonga had converted what Woodgate described an ‘easy opportunity’ after just two minutes, which was blocked by Rams defender Matt Clarke.
"It was a shaky start, when Matt Clarke had to make a good block,” added Cocu.
"If they score the first goal inside two minutes it would be an extremely hard game.
"We scored a great goal in the first half, and we knew that was important because they do not concede many goals.”