Departure Lounge – Gate 1
With several departures expected this January, we’ll probably need a couple of articles to say goodbye to all the outward bound passengers. We’re only half way through January, yet the exit door is already swinging.
Here’s the first batch including Bywater, Ando, Leacock, Pearo and Dave Martin:
Bywater has featured in at least one previous Departure Lounge, if not two. He looked destined for Ipswich at one stage but came back; he bizarrely almost went to Tottenham but it fell through; and he might have joined Cardiff had he not had a rush of blood in the play-off semi. He has had his moments with the Rams, most notably the promotion season and Clough once proclaiming him to be one of the best English ‘keepers around.
Despite a few errors, Bywater was never really a “calamity keeper”. His biggest flaw (as pointed out by Simon our in-
house goalkeeping expert) was that he simply didn’t prevent enough goals. As obvious as that may sound, you only have to witness some recent “match winning” saves by Fielding to demonstrate exactly what is meant by this. Bywater rarely, if ever, earnt us points. Throw in the odd error and a dodgy temperament and its time for him to move on.
Now on the bench in League One behind a fit again Nicky Weaver, which suggests Clough’s judgement is shared by many of his Championship peers.
Often referred to as a “model pro” and regarded as an all round good guy, it was a shame for Ando that he has simply faded away. He had shocking luck with injuries, starting the season for two years running, yet completing neither match. He always did a decent job for us when he did play and didn’t let anyone down when covering at full-back – he simply wasn’t on the pitch enough, starting only 18 games in 2 1/2 years. To be fair though, he was only ever going to be a squad player and arrived for free. To borrow a phrase from Noel Gallagher “it as hardly Paul McCartney leaving The Beatles” when Ando moved on.
It was reported this weekend that Leacock would be leaving and is likely to join Leyton Orient. For a player I never rated highly, I was surprised how far his star had fallen. Leacock was one of Billy’s first signings and was almost ever present once Davies had decided on his preferred defence. In a season based around narrow victories and pinching goals, Leacock was a star and at the time linked with Everton for a few million quid. We all know what happened in the Premier League. Like many others, Leacock didn’t look at home there and his weakness for being brushed aside too readily was exposed several times.
Like many other recent Rams, injuries hindered Leacock over the next couple of years with him in and out the side.
Always popular with the fans, I was amazed at how often I heard people saying “we’ll be fine when Leacock comes back”, his stock seemingly rising as Jagger’s parade of dodgy defenders came and went (Albrechtsen, Darren Powell, Clod etc. although we can’t blame Jag’s for the latter).
Barely over a year ago, the Rams were riding high, with Leacock and Barker looking a good Championship partnership…then it all went horribly wrong. If a single match can break a players career, then Leacock at the City Ground was it. Played at right-back by Clough, he was torn apart by Tyson and then again by Clough in the press afterwards. From that moment on, Leaock was clearly “not part of the plans” any longer. He did play again – most notably in a solid performance in the return Forest fixture – but his time was up.
As I began by saying, I’m surprised Leacok has dropped into League 1, especially to a club with no prospect of promotion. Still only 27, don’t rule out Leacock bouncing back to the Championship in the next year or two.
Like Bywater, there’s not much we haven’t already said about Pearo and he has also probably featured prematurely in Departure Lounge’s of the past. In summary, we have always thought he’s more an athlete than a footballer. Able to run the length of the pitch with the ball but rarely does anything with it. Another player hampered by injuries over the years, he has always threatened to be a decent player but never convinced fans or managers that he should be a regular.
His play-off winner is his obvious legacy but his annihilation of Paul Connolly against Leeds last season was also a rare highlight of his Rams career.
A(nother) strange episode in Nigel’s transfers dealings. There will always be signings that don’t work out. However, to have someone on loan for 4-5 months, proclaim them to be “coming on nicely”, sign them and then freeze them out was just plain odd.
Dave Martin was initially thought to be a victim of the Rams new wingerless formation but as time went on and
formations changed, it was quite clear that Clough did not fancy Martin in the slightest. It was probably signings like this that made Clough decide he wanted established Championship players from now on (as he said last summer).
If the move was a bad one for us, it was even worse for Martin. Last season Millwall flirted with the play-off’s, whilst he was loaned out back in League One or playing reserve team football. Now he’s dropped again to join Southend in the basement. Never mind, he scored on Saturday and he’s now got Dicko to keep him company.