Clough keeps it skinny
After missing all of pre-season due to holiday, one of my first jobs was to check on the Rams squad numbers to see what hints there were for the coming season. For the first time in as far as I can remember, the squad is “virtually fat free”.
Every season since the Jim Smith days, we’ve started the year with a clutch of players who
either need to be paid-off or will play a peripheral role as their contract has yet to expire. The list of examples would be almost endless but even looking at last year we had the likes of Price, Zadkovich, Alby, Carroll etc. who were complete write-off’s from the start, along with the likes of Teale and Jay Mac who were both honest pro’s but evidently not part of the long term view (and both on a hefty wedge).
As far as I can see, we only have Varney and Croft who are surplus with everyone else a genuine core member of the squad. Croft has already been partially worked off whilst Varney may yet play a role given Davies’ long term absence.
Having a small squad may not always be a positive but Clough has always been an advocate of this and any manager can be judged better when working with his own players to his own plan.
The benefits of a united and cohesive team were quite evident at Elland Road on Saturday, where the Rams completely outplayed Leeds and could have scored 4 or 5 on a different day. The performance was by no means perfect but you could see that Derby intend to play a particular system where players can slot in and out and know their role. Not just throwing eleven highly paid individuals out there and hoping for the best – Jagger style.
In contrast to our stylish play, Leeds were pure huff-and-puff merchants. But should we have expected any more from a team that limped out of League One, lost their top goal scorer and strengthened their outfield only by signing an unwanted Championship full-back? The lesson is that they could have pinched something and we will know doubt lose a few points over the year by sticking to Clough’s footballing principles. Fair enough, I’d take that over watching hoof-ball.
So a perfect start to the season, with a nice supporting act of Forest’s defeat at Burnley. As a final footnote, I see Silly is into his stride immediately. After Forest’s defeat he said “there is no doubt in my mind that we should have won and scored quite a number of goals”. The match facts: Burnely shots on target: 6, Forest shots on target: 0. Possession: Burnely 61%, Forest 39%.