Gary Rowett: Derby County manager signs new contract following Stoke speculation

Derby County boss Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett's Derby have won exactly half of his 38 matches since he took charge in March 2017

Derby County manager Gary Rowett has signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract following speculation linking him to the managerial vacancy at Premier League side Stoke City.

Rowett, 43, was one of the bookmakers' favourites to take over at Stoke after Mark Hughes was sacked on Saturday.

But he said talks with the Championship club had been ongoing since December.

"I'm delighted. This can be a Premier League club. There's always going to be speculation," he told BBC Derby Sport.

"If there's any interest from Premier League clubs, every manager and player wants to be in the Premier League.

"It is always flattering but for me this was probably the job out of any job I was hoping to do.

"This club is set up in a Premier League way."

Rowett wants to 'see job through' at Derby

Derby County boss Gary Rowett
Rowett has set his sights on returning Derby to the Premier League for the first time since relegation in 2007-08

Former Rams player Rowett, whose extended deal runs until the end of the 2020-21 season, became Derby manager in March 2017 and they are second in the table, challenging for promotion to the top flight.

He added: "The second I took it, it was about seeing the job through. Since I have come to the club, I have had a fantastic relationship with all the people here.

"I have a really good, clear direct line of communication with Mel Morris [chairman] and that has been a massive factor for me."

The former Burton Albion and Birmingham City manager has enjoyed a 50% win ratio at Derby, who were 10th in the table when Rowett replaced Steve McClaren at Pride Park.

No approach had been made by Stoke, but the Rams had already let it be known that they would "aggressively reject" any declaration of interest in Rowett, whose contract was understood to contain a seven-figure compensation clause.

Morris described Rowett as a "hugely talented manager", adding: "He is a pleasure to work with and this is acknowledged at all levels within the club.

"Supported by Gary embracing the club's objectives and with his leadership, we have been able to create a sense of unity which is key to our ongoing development and our quest for Premier League football."

Analysis

Natalie Jackson, BBC East Midlands Today sports editor

Previous managers seem to have struggled to work with Mel Morris, but the new owner and Gary Rowett appear to have a strong working relationship.

Rowett said when he took over that he was not concerned by what had happened previously and was ready to embrace the challenge.

Results have steadily improved, which has clearly helped, but Rowett has been both impressed and grateful for the backing he has received and feels everything is in place to achieve the long-standing goal of reaching the Premier League.

They have been talking for three weeks, so this is not a knee-jerk reaction to the interest from Stoke.

And while Rowett has his heart set on managing in the top flight, he would dearly love to do it with a club where he has such strong links. He has lived in the area for years and has been a player, coach and manager.

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