Stick or Twist ?
As 2013 comes to an end, Derby County find themselves sitting in an automatic promotion spot at the exact half way point of the Championship season.
The appointment of Steve McClaren couldn’t feasibly have gone any better and as we enter 2014 and the January Transfer window, the infamous “Derby County ownership group” are facing a whole new scruple to deal with.
The last few months have seen some of the best football played by Derby for years. McLaren’s killer signings of Wisdom & Dawkins alongside the adoption of the 4-1-2-2-1 formation have hit the jackpot and propelled the Rams to the forefront of the promotion race without spending a penny more than was available to Clough. The success of the team is undoubtedly based on a great team spirit but also having good players in key positions who compliment each other perfectly.
The team is not broke and doesn’t particularly need an upgrade anywhere (fair play to Forsyth who has been immense since I said he was the weakest link) to smash through this division. However whilst an injury to Bryson, Martin (both of which look tired to me) or Hughes wouldn’t be a disaster in the old world of muddling along in mid table, it would kill us in our new objective of scoring 2 points per game.
Sam Rush recently told a friend of mine that we would be signing 3 players in January – Dawkins plus two. If that’s still the plan, my money would be on a quality striker and a midfielder. Names that don’t seem to want to go away are Bamford, Wickham (another one who has been brilliant since I said he was shit) and Jack Cork. I think we should also be doing everything to get Keane until the end of the season.
The interesting questions now are A) Are we still happy with 3 new faces now we are top two? B) What does McLaren think we need? C) Will the ownership group be happy to increase budgets based on the fact we have a genuine chance?
Of our competitors, QPR will obviously spend and Burnley obviously won’t. Whilst Leicester will probably do a bit I don’t think they will go crazy as they have done previously. Forest will have a big budget and will no doubt go for a couple of strikers. However Forest having budget and landing their man are two different things due to the horrendous reputation of their manager and them being notoriously difficult to deal with.
My personal view would be sign up Dawks and get Keane locked down to the end of the season as priority. In addition to that, we definitely need cover for Martin and I would prefer Wickham to Bamford purely as he is proven at this level. A proven midfield all rounder like Cork who could cover Bryson or Hughes is definitely needed but I would also try and find another Eustace. There is going to be lots of game management required now and you just can’t have enough players around who have been there and done it.
However this pans out its going to be an interesting January for sure. But let me leave you with my much quoted favourite transfer window story. At this point in 2009 Forest were top of the league with Silly shouting as usual for transfer funds. In that window Newcastle signed 9 players, West Brom signed 7, Forest signed nobody. Guess who got promoted? Clue – it wasn’t Forest.
Happy New Year to all our readers.
Come on you Rams!