Style Plus Substance Equals Success
With three wins out of three on the road for the Super Rams so far this season, it would be a natural conclusion to assume we have become “a tougher nut to crack” or have learnt how to better “manage games” away from home.
However widespread reports of “beating Brighton at their own game” and “passing Yeovil to death” would suggest we’re basing our promotion bid on a different way of winning.
If you look at the Championship over recent history there are essentially three ways to get out of it. These are as follows:-
The Steamroller – This is where your team is simply just better than everyone else. You lead from the front, buy 7 players in January to consolidate your position and storm home through Easter. You’ll have a couple of shock coupon busting defeats at places like Donny and Yeovil (would formally have been Scunny) but you won’t even break stride as you power into the Premier league. Recent examples include Cardiff last year, QPR, Newcastle and the ultimate 05/06 Reading side who scored 106 points!
The Coaching Course Manager – This is your “modern manager” who bases his tactics on football science, DVD’s, game management and being hard to beat. Key exponents of this are unfortunately widespread and how many times have we gone home from Pride Park after losing 0-1 or 1-2 to one of these wankers moaning about time wasting, Derby being bullied and bad refs (natural progression from the last two along with technical fouls, trying to earn cheap free kicks in the final 3rd, trying to get our players booked at every turn and general snide behaviour)? I’d ask Mick McCarthy, Steve Bruce, Malky Mackay, Billy Davies and Sam Allardyce to hang their heads in shame but they’ve all spent more time in the Premiership than DCFC so I guess they wouldn’t care.
Total Football / Outscore the Opposition – The final option is a full on attacking approach based on simply outscoring the opposition in every game. There are two flavours to this one. Firstly there’s the mixed passing style where a host of clever but mobile attacking midfielders will buzz around a couple or five strikers but there’s also a few big men to steal one from a set piece if required see Southampton, Norwich and Tony Mowbray’s West Brom. The other flavour, and hardest to make work, is the full on possession football as demonstrated by Swansea and Blackpool, this also seems to be the option currently being demonstrated by Derby.
In fairness to Clough, he’s always tried to play a passing game but either hasn’t had the personnel, the formation or probably the breathing space to really make it work. With the advent of the new “diamond” formation, it may just be we’ve stumbled across the missing piece of the jigsaw (readers in my age range will remember Jim Smith’s adoption of a 5-3-2 formation transforming the 95/96 season and taking us to promotion).
With the conundrum of getting Hughes, Bryso and Jeff all playing centrally cracked, teams are changing their own style to combat ours, which is a good sign. However possession and passing alone is not enough (we did lots of that away from home last season with a dismal return) and it’s the new trio of Ward, Russell and Martin in front of them which is making the difference.
For all the many paragraph’s written about Theo and then Sammon over the past few seasons (I stuck up for both), its abundantly clear we’ve traded up big time in the striking department and now have a genuine cutting edge.
Clearly its still very early days but the signs are very much that Derby’s style could now have some substance. After a tricky start, we now have some very winnable games coming up in the form of Brentford, Burnley and Millwall. A couple more thumping wins there and it maybe we can start to get really excited.