Derby County had high hopes going into the season after finishing fourth the previous season, but manager George Burley, who had transformed Derby from relegation candidates into promotion hopefuls, quit in June following the sale of young midfielder Tom Huddlestone to Tottenham Hotspur, without Burley's knowledge nor consent. His replacement, Phil Brown (in his first full-time managerial position) was unable to build on Burley's good work and their poor form dragged them into the relegation mire instead. He was sacked in January after a 6-1 thrashing against Coventry City in the league and a 3-1 defeat against League One side Colchester United in the FA Cup, with Derby languishing in 19th. Former coach Terry Westley stepped up as caretaker manager; despite no wins in his first five games, he was named as caretaker manager for the remainder of the season - Westley promptly won his first game two days later, 1-0 at home to Plymouth. Westley marginally improved Derby's form and they managed to confirm their Championship survival with a few games of the season to spare. Westley, however, was not offered the role of permanent manager; that went to former Preston North End boss Billy Davies.
Derby's form was especially poor away from home, with only 2 away wins all season, a complete contrast from the previous season from which they won 12 away games including six in a row.