Monthly Archives: May 2010

Nigels Transfer Policy Explained

Since Nigel Clough came to Derby, there has been a recurring discussion around his transfer activity. Admittedly much of this goes back to the tired “why aren’t we spending millions” debate, but there is no doubt Nigel has approached the transfer market in a unique and different way to our previous managers.

In Simon Kuper’s recent book “Why England Lose” (a much better book than the title suggests), Kuper devotes a chapter to the transfer market and concludes, in his own words “As a free service to clubs, here are the 12 main secrets of the transfer market”.

Here we assess how The Rams are getting on: Read the rest of this entry

Congrats to Greeny

“Hi? Is that Steve Bruce? Tom Glick here, er, cough, er, you know when we said £1m for Greeny we, er, kinda like, actually meant £5m. Cough, er, is that like, ok?”

Well done Greeny. Great to see a Ram on the international stage again. To play so well and score was awesome.

Ian Evatt could have saved us millions!

Like Ian Ashbee before him, Ian Evatt has gone a circuitous route to the Premier League.

I always said John Gregory had an eye for a player

Coming through the ranks at Derby, being released and then starting afresh in the bottom tier (both were signed by Roy McFarland at Cambridge and Chesterfield respectively). Whilst Ashbee remained with Hull City for the whole journey, Evatt signed firstly for QPR in the Championship and then briefly dropped a division to join Blackpool before the Seasiders two promotions.

My only real memories of Evatt as a Ram are actually of not seeing him play. The majority of his 34  games were played in the John Gregory era whilst I was living abroad. I used to listen to live commentary in an internet cafe, striking a fine balance between drinking enough free drinks to keep me awake through the match but not to keep me awake all night. This usually lead to walking around a Tokyo suburb at 3am, listening to whatever my brother had sent me (The Coral or Electric Soft Parade at the time) and wondering about a whole host of players John Gregory had blooded – such as Pablo Mills, Izale McLeod, Gary Twigg…and Ian Evatt. I distinctly remember wondering if Ian Evatt was “any good”. The kind of thought an exiled football fan can have when simply waiting to become tired and looking at an old boat (as I was at that moment).

By the time I returned, Evatt was injured and was soon released by George Burley. Based on very little first-hand knowledge, I gather Evatt is very much a “head and kick it” centre-back. He may not set the Premier League on fire but has proved more than competent in the Championship.

If Evatt had been offered a new Rams contract seven summers ago and done no more than an average job for us in the Championship, just think of the millions of pounds we could have saved in transfer fees, agents fees and wages; not to mention some of the suffering we have endured due to outright crapness.

Here are just a few of the names who might never have darkened our doorstep: Mo Konjic, Tommy Hjato, Gary Caldwell, Darren Powell, Martin Albrechtsen, Andy Todd, Claude Davis, Andrew Davies, Dave Walton and Emersom Thome. Not all of them awful but collectively bleeding millions from the club whilst failing to solve a simple problem.

Worth remembering next time someone questions the wisdom of having Jake Buxton in the squad.

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Departure Lounge round-up

A picture of Hendrie in a competitive game is rarer than a El Salvador '82 shiny Panini badge

Lee Hendrie

Lee Hendrie arrived as the first transfer window closed at the end of August 2009, in a deal that seemed more about getting Jordan Stewart on his way. Despite being with the Rams for nine months, Hendrie will rival Dave Walton in the mind of many Rams fans as a forgotten man. Despite some obvious quality when he did appear, the fact that Henrdrie started only one more league game than Bryan “oh yeah, him” Hughes tells you all you need to know about his Rams career. He was possibly unlucky with injuries at times when he might have played but for whatever reason, Clough clearly didn’t fancy him, signing a succession on loan midfielders during the season.

The Best of Times Substitute appearances against Bristol City and West Brom lifted the Rams at the right time to gain four late points.

The Worst of Times The signings of not-too-dissimilar Bryan Hughes and Lee Johnson were clear pointers to where Hendrie’s Rams career was heading.

Lewis Price

"Lewis, you're at Wealdstone with the reserves on Tuesday"

Although a minor deal, selling Lee Camp for around £200k and replacing him with Lewis Price (same age, similar fee) was simply an awful bit of business by Billy Davies. We are well aware of what Camp is up to whilst Lewis Price was last seen on the bench in League One. To be fair, Price played nine matches during our Premier League season and didn’t disgrace himself (well, he did against Sheff. Wednesday in the cup but redeemed himself in the replay shoot-out). Jagger seemed to prefer him to Bywater for a while but that seems an eternity away now.

The Best of Times His debut against Liverpool on Boxing Day would have been the perfect debut had Benny Fail-harder bothered to track Gerrard.

The Worst of Times Things looked bleak for Lewis when he was dispatched to Brentford for the season. Things got worse when Brentford decided to sign another loan keeper to replace him.

Nicky Hunt

"Come on Nicky, grit your teeth and take one for the team"

Hunt took a couple of matches to settle in but during the Rams January purple patch, he looked absolutely top class. Very good on the ball and strong at the back. He seemed nailed on for a season loan next year but then suffered a dip in form. The problem with Hunt is that he looks scruffy and unathletic so is an easy target when not playing well. It was a problem at Bolton and it became one at Derby where a couple of poor performance were never really forgiven. Overall, he served us well.

The Best of Times When on his game, his first time passing and crossing showed why he’s played so many Premier League games.

The Worst of Times After being subbed against Ipswich, he went straight down the tunnel, only pausing to remove his shirt. Not a crowd pleaser.

Gilles Sunu

"Oh God, not another nutter chasing after me"

Sunu was apparently a long term target for Derby but was definitely underwhelming during his end of season spell. Seemingly unprepared for the rough and tumble of the Championship, Sunu was often completely bypassed by the match around him. He showed glimpses of quality…but was usually flat on his face seconds later.

The Best of Times His goal at Reading, although completely overshadowed by our goalkeeping capers.

The Worst of Times Being subbed at half-time at QPR. We saw very little of him after that and Clough decided to sign Cywka.

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Superstar DJ, Here We Go !!!!!

Five thoughts on this week’s fantastic action at the City Ground:-

1) Watching as a neutral you’d have thought a Blackpool goal was coming for long periods before it did. As a seasoned viewer of teams managed by Billy Davies, the game seemed to be reverting to type. That is, Billy’s team get largely outplayed by a better side but stay organised, ride their luck and pinch the win. Which leads nicely to.

2) Lee Camp – In 2004/2005 Campy had had a fantastic season for the Rams only to drop a pivotal howler in injury time of the 1st leg defeat at PNE. Most Rams fans would say he was never the same after this and it was definitely the start of the end of his Rams career. Lets see how he reacts to gifting Blackpool their opener last night. History repeating would be nice.

3) Why did Skysports constantly refer to the 28,000 crowd as ‘huge’? As all Rams fans will know, this is derisory.

4) There is no doubt that our victory over the Red Dogs completely de-railed their season. Undefeated away from home up to that point, only 2 points scored thereafter on their travels. Couple this with Billy’s ludicrous “Clough kicked me” allegations and the feel bad factor around their lack of January spend and its a fact it all went wrong from Rob Hulse’s glorious header onwards.

5) No disrespect to Barks, but DJ Campbell needs to ask for a re-count on our player of the year vote.  He’d walk it!

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What next for Billy?

One of the first headlines in the Nottingham Post, following Forest’s hilarious Yeovil-esque play-off debacle, was that Davies was “thinking over his future”. Davies has been saying all season that Forest aren’t ready to go up and what a fantastic season they’ve had regardless.  Davies has one of the best squads in the division at one of the bigger clubs and his chairman has promised to bring players in during the summer. So what’s his problem? For saying Davies has two years left on his contract, he is sounding remarkably like a mercenary footballer – the Pascal Chimbonda of management. 

"Now i'm not saying I want to leave...."

One point to note is that since he started his management career in 1998, Billy Davies has always been the underdog: at Motherwell, Preston, Derby who had just survived relegation and then just been promoted; and at Forest who like Derby had narrowly avoided relegation. Unlike Derby, after a late season slide, Forest failed to clinch promotion so will start next season as promotion favourites. No longer the underdog for the first time. 

Add to this, chairman Nigel Doughty’s comment of “two or three players…maximum” for the summer; and give it a stir with Forest’s latter season form. Forest were joint top on points in late January but relegation away form saw them finish 23 points off the eventual champions Newcastle. Rams fans can pinpoint the exact day that Forest’s season began to unravel – January 30th at Pride Park. Forest hadn’t lost away until then and then haven’t won away since. Davies has arguably a more difficult task next season with massive expectation and work to do on his team, who like Derby in 2007, seem to have been “found out” post-Christmas. His usual “under-promise and over-deliver” style won’t wash this time around.

But what are his options? There aren’t any better jobs in the Championship and its unlikely that a Premier League club would gamble on him given his Premier League pedigree. Davies often proudly points to his play-off record; but his record shows that he has ultimately failed on the big occasion every time with one exception (Derby in 2007). Not ideal when every match in the Premier League is a big occasion. The Celtic job has been mentioned (I can just imagine – “Rangers finished six points clear last season, if we can cut that to five it will be a massive achievement”) and seems the only remote possibility. It will be interesting to see the time lag between Celtic announcing a new man and Billy committing to Forest. Other than that, there’s always a job at FC Twente…

 

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Kasper Schmeichel

I heard a strange rumour at the weekend that the Rams have jumped to poll position in the race to sign Kasper Schmeichel.

With various Premier League teams involved it’s believed, we are the favoured option as we have “guaranteed first team football”. With Saul Deeney already guaranteed reserve team football and Bywater regularly praised by Clough as a one of the best keepers in the Championship, this seems a strange one.

It seems to me there can only be two answers – A) It’s nonsense B) Somebody’s coming in (relatively!) big for Bywater. Watch this space.

Gary Teale

It would be true to say that Gary Teale wasn’t the greatest Rams signing in recent history but I have rarely seen a player targeted so much by the boo-boys. Especially a player who always gave his all and appeared an honest and genuine professional. In reality, Teale probably had two or three good months in three and a half years, which was when Clough gave him a consistent run of games in early 2009. The rest of the time, Teale never had more than a bit-part in the squad. He was loaned out for two lengthy spells and no doubt would have left had there been any takers not put of by his prohibitive wages.

However, it should also be remembered that Teale was responsible for a lot of points in the early part of last season with winning goals against Peterborough and Bristol City and countless assists in home victories.

Unfortunately for Teale, he could no right in the eyes of some supporters and his Rams career could be summed up by a cat-call with ten minutes of his Derby career remaining against Cardiff. A head height ball was played to the right-wing; with no chance of controlling it, Teale allowed the full-back head the ball into touch for a Derby throw. The Rams were 2-0 ahead a now had a throw-in deep in the Cardiff half yet still someone bellowed “Don’t bother challenging for it Teale will you!”

We wish Gary Teale good luck, a player who always tried to earn his wages when it probably would have been easier to hide.

The Best of Times

His switch to left wing under Clough and his subsequent three month purple patch spawning the legend – ” he used to be shite, but now he’s all right, walking in a Teale wonderland”. His winner against Bristol City last season – moments after parts of the crowd had been barracking him, was also a sweet moment.

The Worst of Times

Demoralising loan spells at Barnsley and Plymouth. Being relentlessly, verbally abused by the Pride Park crowd – behaviour you just don’t associate with Derby fans.

Jay Mac

After three years of looking unconvincing and accident prone, Jay McEveley finally nailed down a regular starting berth for the final six months of his contract – before being released. It seemed harsh but it was difficult to argue with Clough’s logic: J-Mac had been in and out the side for his contract length, as well as being out on loan. Clough concluded that we should move on. In the age of the Bosman transfer, we had no more obligation to Jay than anyone on the open market. Clough has identified Gareth Roberts, so Jay is no longer required.

I’ve often said about J-Mac that he has all the component parts to be a perfect full-back: strong, good in the air, good coming forward; and hard in the tackle. The problem has always been the less tangible qualities such as concentration and decision making. The ironic thing is that Clough appeared to have ironed-out Jay’s follies and Jay showed his best form for the club in his final six months.

We wish him well and someone will get a better player than the one we signed in January 2007.

The Best of Times

The last six months – J-Mac’s goals against Doncaster and Birmingham plus a barn-storming performance against Forest. His wind-up of Gunter was legendary. 

The Worst of Times

Every summer saw a new left-back arriving to replace him. He saw off Griffin, Stewart and Moxey but Silly, Jagger and Clough all gave him a vote of no confidence.

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Come on Blackpool !!!!

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