"He was given £10million or so but that doesn't go very far at this level.
"It is hard to pick yourself up but hopefully the arrival of the new manager will do that."
The midfielder added: "It's the speed of the game you notice most," he said. "I'd been out of this league for three years and it has been interesting for me to test myself again.
"(Manchester) United have raised the bar and then you look at Arsenal, who are younger and fitter than any of the teams I've played before."
But Oakley is confident it will take just a small upturn in fortunes for the rock-bottom Rams to be taken seriously.
"The teams around us have been poor and, while many see us as the whipping boys, there aren't many teams that have left us behind," he added. "If we can string a win or two together then we climb back into the pack with six other teams."