Tom Lawrence’s two good individual goals were the difference between the two sides in a poor game at Pride Park which was otherwise devoid of any moments of brilliance.
United’s best and only real chance fell to Billy Sharp, but he headed straight at Derby goalkeeper Ryan Allsop when he seemed destined to score.
And McCall, taking temporary charge of the Blades with boss Paul Heckingbottom isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, admitted: “Most of the game was in their half but it’s not just about possession, it’s what you do with it. And we didn’t go enough with it.
Sheffield Wednesday boss and chairman unhappy after attackers leave for Premier League
Latest on Pierce Charles contract talks as Darren Moore confirms Sheffield Wednesday transfer possibility
Sheffield United left baffled about key man's injury ahead of big Middlesbrough trip
Sheffield Wednesday: Key update on Lee Gregory, Michael Smith latest and fans' Josh Windass worries
Sheffield United: Oli Arblaster's brilliant message to fans after making debut for boyhood club
“They defended well and got back in numbers. We weren’t bright enough in and around their box but they deserve credit in getting bodies in there.
“We can’t look at other clubs, we have to look at ourselves and we didn’t do enough. That’s football.
“We went down to Fulham, scored a great goal and then defended well. We never looked like getting back into it, which was disappointing. I thought we’d have a little rally but we didn’t. We should have done a lot more to stop the goal at source.”
United, playing their first league game in six weeks after a spate of postponements, certainly struggled to get going and Rams boss Wayne Rooney believed his side made “a very good team look ordinary” as they climbed off the bottom of the Championship table.