Moving Forward or More of the Same?
Rather than do a direct post match thoughts (Nathan, our lawyers will be in touch) from yesterdays frustrating defeat to Burnley, with eight games gone (including Scunthorpe), I thought it would be more interesting to discuss some general early thoughts on the Rams prospects of success this year.
Overall, I think most fans would agree we look a better side. Whilst Clough definitely made us harder to beat last season, most of our results were based on odd goal wins and scrapping like hell to hold onto what we had. Certainly we didn’t smash anyone and there was far too much reliance on Jamie Ward from a creative point of view.
With the addition of Coutts direct running, Hughes creativity/general ball retention and the still evolving Ward/Sammon partnership, the team is much more entertaining and is going to continue to cause most people big problems, particularly at Pride Park. What we need to do quickly is learn how to win.
Yes we have been punished for half mistakes and been on the wrong end of some unbelievable strikes. However for that to happen in 1 or 2 games is bad luck, to happen in 4 out of 5 home games is a pattern. Away from home, again, you can take a positive from big possession with no reward in 1 game but, regardless of possession and opposition (at this level); 1 point from 3 away games is poor.
A certain type of Derby fan is always quick to jump on Clough with any negative result but there is no question his game management has been questionable on several occasions already. It seems unfair to criticize for being too negative (see Sheff Wed) then for being too gung ho (see Charlton and Burnley) but ultimately the manager needs to get these things right and, for me, he’s got it wrong a couple of times this season.
One area where you can rarely criticize Nigel is in the transfer market and the early signs are that he’s again spent wisely this summer. Coutts is a great player and an obvious steal (does needs to do more defensively or get off in the last 10 minutes though), but what of our two million pound men?
With regard to Keogh, I’ve said from almost his first game that I believe he is better than Shackell. Whilst Shacks is probably a more elegant defender, Keogh is much more aggressive and is generally more involved in the game at both ends of the pitch. I think he will really come to the fore in some of the bigger games we have coming up.
It’s still early days for Sammon, but I was really disappointed to hear some fans starting to moan at him in the Burnley game. My first impressions of Conor is that he is an all action, hard working player who must be a nightmare to play against. He’s not Teddy Sheringham and his first touch and decision making around the box hasn’t been great so far, but that will come with more games. However his pure nuisance value and work ethic bodes well for a fruitful partnership with Wardy. Those Rams fans who sang for Theo yesterday were probably the same ones who were abusing him this time last season!
Next up , we now have four very tough games, starting with Forest away next week, and the points return from that run will probably tell us if this season is going t be the step forward we are all so desperately hoping for.