The Price of Fish

For a couple of seasons now it’s been a common thread in all Derby County related discussion that “we just need that £1m striker”. So in August this year when we finally got one, hopes were high that Conor Sammon was the final piece in the jigsaw. A barnstorming home debut, a cracking goal and a 5-1 tonking of Watford did nothing to quell anyone’s enthusiasm.

However just 19 games into his Derby career, its fair to say that Conor is a player that splits opinion amongst the DCFC massive.


Insert ‘leaps like a Sammon’ pun to taste.

Based on what I’ve seen of Conor so far, and I accept Cloughs comment that it probably took him 10 games or so to get fit and up to speed, he’s almost the polar opposite of Rob Hulse, another player who split opinion (yet strangely seems more popular since he left than when he was here) .

Hulse was a player who had zero nuisance value, would often disappear for 20 minute spells and was regularly bossed by your average championship centre half. Having said that, he knew his way around the penalty area and was a cracking finisher.  Built like a gypsy bare knuckle boxer, Sammon on the other hand is almost constantly involved in every game, running himself into the floor for the cause and generally giving most centre halves a rough afternoon. The debate begins when you look at his finishing and decision making.

At the time of writing, Conor has scored 4 goals in 19 games for the Rams, so just short of 1 in 4. He certainly could and should have had more than that but Simon Cox, widely lauded as what you could get for real money, only has 5 in 17. Billy Sharp also only has 5 in 17, and he’s a player where you really do get nothing outside of finishing.

If there’s one area where Conor does frustrate me at times it’s his decision making around the box. Lots of times, I’ve seen him try to play someone in or check back when he could just have a crack. Witness also his rabbit in the headlights moment at Leicester when he had Schmeichel in all sorts of problems and then just stood still and got tackled. Herein lies the problem, having waited so long for a million pound striker, Rams fans were waiting for Ricky Lambert or Grant Holt and that’s not Conor at the moment and, arguably, not his natural game either.

Our friends at made a great point recently in that, if Glick had signed Conor 18 months previously for £650k (just £200k more than Chris Porter Tom!) as he should have done, then there is no doubt Sammon would now be a full on cult hero, probably tearing up the Championship. However having sat on Wigan’s subs bench for 18 months (ignore that 1 goal in 32 stat for Wigan, its nonsense, most were sub appearances), he’s got to re-find the purple patch he was on at Kilmarnock and also battle with the weight of expectation that a £1m price tag brings.


Posted on December 5, 2012, in General Rams Comment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. We have two thirds of the jigsaw in my opinion. Sammon is physically a complete nuisance like you say (in Steve Howard mould) and Theo’s strength comes in his pace, but neither of them have the clinical finishing that you need. If we had a Billy Sharp we’d have the third piece, but you couldn’t play them all at once, and therein lies the issue. Much as fans would like one, we don’t have the “complete” striker. There are very few of them about and they probably cost a lot more than 1 million! The price/success factor of Leicester’s frontline bears this out. Nugent was a free but on enormous wages, great finisher but goes missing when the chips are down. Non-league Vardy cost 1.7 million and has scored 4 – Leicester fans remain unconvinced. Waghorn cost 3 million and has scored 2 in 13 this season. Futacs was a free, but there was compensation to Pompey and high wages. He’s barely featured this season (4 apps?)

  2. Part of the problem is the perception that a “million pound” striker will automatically score 20 goals in the Championship but that just isn’t the case. The odd one might do but the majority don’t as several recent examples show: Baldock (twice), Chopra, Jutkiewicz, JET, Vardy, Miller, Derbyshire, CMS, Proschwitz, McClean, Sordell, Maynard etc. All have moved for big fees in the last couple of years and whilst it may be too early to say in all cases, none have transformed their current clubs.

    And I’d be surprised if many of the above put as much a shift in as Connor.

    • This may sound a little generous, but I also think the way we are playing football right now (which is the best we have played in many years) may not 100% suit Connor Sammon. When seem most dangerous when we are playing sharp give and go’s from the flanks and then crossing (generally low and hard) or picking out a good quick through ball from central areas. I think this suits Theo who is quick when running onto anything and is a relatively good fox in the six yard box.
      What we don’t do a lot of (even with corners as these have been inconsistent) is just sling the ball into the mixer.
      I think Connor might be more effective when attacking higher balls in the box but rarely gets the opportunity. As the article said Connor often finds the ball at his feet (because of our good football) and try’s to link and keep the ball moving which is possibly not his strength.
      You saw against Leicester we had a lot of possession and pressure for 30minutes either side of the half but the 1st time they put a quality ball into the box the scoted from the corner and in the 2nd half Nugent made it 3-1 and it was game over (there second goal was good football as was our first)
      I’m not saying we should just sling balls into the box. I’m really enjoying watching the way we try and often succeed in playing. But I do think this might be a reason why Sammon is not on 8 or 9 like Theo.
      And a fair point from the comments above. 5 years ago a million pound striker might get you 20 goals. But jay Rodriguez went for 7million. Charley Austin is possibly worth more the form he is in! So what does a million pounds get you!

  3. If NC had the chance to dig out the receipt and take Sammon back to the shop for a refund, would he do it? Not sure. I think the Sammon debate would evaporate if we looked anything like keeping clean sheets. Then the work he puts in creating space for others becomes a plus point, rather than people focussing on his lack of goal threat when we’ve crumpled to another 3 goal away defeat and folks want a whinge – plus, we’d be comfortably top 6.

  4. Richard Harcock

    Cloughy is very happy with current squad because he does not want to go up.He is very defensive and doesnot want to be badly beaten.Fine ,let the lads develop and wait till the time is right.Fine,but can the fans wait.Each week we marvel at how they fiddle the attendance figures because in my opinion the ground is half full and things will get worse as we float towards the bottom of the table.We play some great football but !.

  5. Good article, with follow up posts (Frank) & I thought Chris made a good point, too. Sammon’s performances always seem to come under the spotlight after a defeat – and it has been our defence who have been culpable lately, with both Keogh & Buxton at fault.

    Interesting comparison that between Hulse & Sammon. I felt about Hulse, the way some of our fans feel about CS. There was a spell between autumn 09 & January 10 where Hulse struggled till his goal against Forest. It used to be frustrating seeing him complain as he lost another tussle & his head dropped.

    I feel Sammon has probably missed Ward as much as anyone as the pair were forming a partnership. Ward’s mobility, someone able to get on to the target man’s flicks/hold-up play & use the ball. Robinson is a finisher & that is it.

    I thought the follow-up posts highlight how difficult it is to source that holy Grail, a natural finisher. What does a million get you nowadays? If Clough had gambled on a raw talent and that lad struggled, I bet he would been criticised, ‘why didn’t you go for someone with more experience?’ Sometimes you just can’t win when your options are limited.

  6. I think we’ll have a better supply to Sammon once Jacobs beds into the side a bit more. I think Brayford/Coutts conbination has been worked out as a threat by the opposition. For some reason they seem less dangerous. O’Connor is not a great left back Roberts is solid but imagine what kind of side we would be with a left back version of Brayford and a confident Jacobs. Jacobs can “feed the fish”, and when the pressure is off so will Coutts. So i would say left wing-back is what the jigsaw is missing. Does Chris Powell have a son?

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