How to get promoted
During the ’30 days’, we’ve called in a few of our friends to make contributions along the way. Today we have the man formerly known as The Hull Fan At Work on duty. I say “formerly known as” as a) I don’t work with him any more and 2) as of June, he won’t be working at all. Most of us saw Derby lose at least once to Hull City last season and were left wondering “how are they at the top and we’re not?”. That’s no disrespect to the Tigers, like us under Silly (okay, that is disrespect) they consistently ground out narrow victories. Whilst I think of a new nickname for TMFKATHFAW (The Man Formerly Known As….), you can read the thoughts of the man himself…
First of all, may I say what an honour it is to be invited to write for the illustrious ’30 Days of Ramspace’ project, which I have followed closely.
The brief requires me to expand on ‘what it takes to get out of the Championship’, but even now, three weeks later, I’m still not entirely sure how we managed it, especially after the ridiculous events of the final afternoon. Then I came across a quote from David Meyler, our Irish midfielder, who reckoned that “this was 10% down to the players and 90% to the Manager” and that, on reflection, seems to get it more or less right.
Bruce’s appointment was a risk. There was the thought that he was burnt out after being unemployed since the exit from Sunderland – he had some doubts himself about taking the job on – and the majority of fans reckoned a tilt at the play offs would be the best on offer, at least for this season. So what did Bruce get right?
He’d inherited from Pearson/Barmby a decent squad high on promise but low on experience and depth, and he worked out in a very short space of time the strengths and weaknesses. By the end of the transfer window he’d worked out what the existing squad could do and made useful additions, all of whom, with possibly the exception of the unfortunate
Proschwitz, went on to make significant contributions over the season.
On top of that, he also worked out how to get the best out of them. Out went the 4-4-2 favoured by the previous managers, and in came 3-5-2. A risk, as he admitted he’d not tried this since his time at Palace, but it worked a treat in the majority of cases. The back three was essentially sound apart from the odd lapse (like when that pint sized ex-Blade irritant Ward stuck one in), and using wing backs seemed to totally bamboozle a whole clutch of managers who became more concerned with our style than with their own. Sean O’Driscoll, I’m looking at you here.
The weak link was the strikers, especially after Aluko’s injury at Christmas cost him the rest of the season. Had he stayed fit, we could have had a much closer battle with Cardiff. As it was, we tried a number of options, such as Gedo and Boyd, who had their moments but not really enough of them.
What happened in the second half of the season took out some of the flair and ability to dominate games (yes, we did have those – ask Leeds), and replaced it with determination, sticking to a game plan, and the sheer bloody mindedness of the Manager. These won us points and consistently, though I doubt it got us any friends, especially those who cancelled their Sky subscriptions after our televised 1-0 wins at Burnley and Huddersfield.
And that was that. Here we go, into the Valley of Death one more time. Following the previous experience, I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to it, though I have more confidence in our potential to stay up with Bruce at the helm than with that other bloke… what’s his name now?… you know… that bloke who sang…..
All the best, Rams. Here’s to a successful 2013/14 for you.
Couple of points in the wake of the play off final, which I have just witnessed.
1) Palace coming up hopefully reduces our chances of finishing bottom next year
2) After watching that rubbish, maybe we really were the second best team in the division!