Time To Shuffle The Pack
Over the last few weeks I’ve been on a fair few festive socials with family and friends. As ever, 80% of the conversation generally revolves around the Rams and the day to day goings on at Pride Park.
Whilst it’s often all too tempting to tweet odd thoughts or a stream of consciousness, here’s a more structured summary of some of the things we’ve been knocking about to move Derby forward again to the elusive “next level”.
I think there is a general consensus amongst Rams fans at large that this year’s vintage of DCFC is overall better than last year, but equally not quite good enough to be in the top 6 on a consistent basis. I’m probably not providing incisive analysis to suggest the main reasons for this are an inability to score goals away from Pride Park coupled with a frustrating habit of gifting soft goals at the other end.
Clough is right to suggest we have been “in” every away game for long periods, but the lack of a true clinical finisher means we rarely capitalise on our long periods of possession and thus leave ourselves susceptible to the string of wonder/scrappy/deflected/soft goals that we concede (more on that in a minute).
In midfield we are technically as good as anyone in the division and the work rate is off the scale. However what we don’t have is anyone who is happy to just sit and break up play when required. If we had this sort of player (Shaun Derry being an obvious modern example of the genre) it would give us much more flexibility away from home to play 2 up front and not rely so much on “defending with the ball”.
The defence (including the keeper) is the most interesting one. Individually you wouldn’t really swap anybody in the back 5 aside from a regular partner for Keogh. However collectively we have been a soft touch for too long now for something not to be fundamentally wrong with the unit as a whole. We’ve changed the keeper and that’s made no difference so it must be something else.
Brayford and Coutts are superb going forward but are they as good a unit defensively? Roberts rarely gets skinned and strangely rarely gets done on headers, but would a 6ft full back that could help defend set pieces be better? Keogh attacks everything as though his life depends on it but is he trying to take on too much responsibility and thus doing everything ok and nothing brilliantly?
With these questions and our paper thin squad running on empty, thoughts immediately turn to January. Obviously all the focus will be on Hughes and no doubt some Premier League piranhas will have a pop. However unless someone offers genuinely daft money, I think we should hang on to the summer where Sam Rush can hopefully use his contacts to wind up a massive Dutch auction.
In order to drum up some funds now, there’s two things we should do. Its now widely accepted that Tyson is the highest earner at the club, so if we can even get some of his wages off the books with a loan then we should. If he gets games and scores goals, even in league 1, then we should be able to sell him properly in the summer.
The second thing we should do is actively look to sell Brayford. This may seem a strange thing to say but consider his age, the fact he’s in great form (thus at optimum value), the fact we have a replacement good to go in Freeman, the fact he’s part of a defence that’s not working and the fact he’s done a great shift for us and deserves a chance at the Premier league (that’s a Foxtrot Oscar call sign to you Cardiff), I think it makes sense. If we can get £2m (If Gunter’s worth £2.5m we should get at least that), we should do the deal.
With those funds we can then perhaps loan or buy the centre half, ball winner and/or finisher (George Boyd anyone?) we need to move us forward again.
Happy New Year to everyone who continues to read and contribute to the site and let’s hope it’s a great 2013 for the Super Rams!