Season Preview for the Guardian
We were asked to provide 150-200 words for The Guardian’s Football League preview. Here’s what we wrote with a few extra thoughts on the end:
On the surface of it, last season may have appeared a disaster for Derby and certainly some of our fans would see it that way. However, with the exception of a couple of hammerings, we weren’t that bad and small margins made all the difference. We conceded loads of late goals but never scored any; and lacked the squad depth to alter the course of games. After a frugal couple of years, the Rams have now opened the cheque book again and Nigel Clough has made eight new signings to address some of last years issues. At least two of the new recruits captained their sides last season, whilst four new strikers should give us options going forward.
If we can convert some of our narrow defeats to narrow victories, we could soon shoot up the table and gain some momentum. We have shown we can play good football, we just need the backbone to support it. Clough has spoken about a top eight finish and I can see no reason why this shouldn’t be the case.
(Re-reading the last sentence, I winced a little on hearing the Crewe result – but when has pre-season ever been a good guide?)
Given a few more words, I would have added that on top of the new signings, the promotion of youth team players (Hendrick, Ball, O’Brien), plus Lee Croft, adds to the overhaul of the squad. The aforementioned youngsters weren’t considered until the games didn’t matter last season but if the season started tomorrow, O’Brien and Hendrick would be in for a shout to start (if Hendrick was here of course).
I reckon another player on the verge of a proper breakthrough is Conor Doyle. I was impressed by him last season and its been noticeable in pre-season that he has been involved exclusively in “first team” friendlies, whilst the likes of Pearson, Cwyka, Robinson and Croft have all played their part in reserve matches. I’m still not sure of his best position but a fluid front five could suit him perfectly.