The Case For The Defence

It’s been an exciting start to the summer for Rams fans with a new head coach and new signings flying in left right and centre.

With the promise of more new faces, a topic that is regularly starting to crop up is how the team will shape up under Clement. With two new centre halves signed already, a bid rejected for Shacks and links to a couple of right backs (Lowton and Jaz Richards), the defence is of particular interest to me.

When viewing his DCFC DVDs, I don’t expect that Clement needed to get very far into “season 2” to see that we concede too many goals, so it’s no surprise to see him signing defenders. He also didn’t mess about signing a new keeper and there is no doubt in my mind that Carson will be number 1 and Grant will be our “cup keeper” – until he goes out on loan around Christmas.

The type of defender we are signing is also interesting, very much going back to win your headers and tackles. Certainly Baird, Pearce and even Shacks are defenders first and foremost.

Last week, a reasonably senior development coach at DCFC told my lad and his development group that “the old head coach’s” philosophy was very much about ball retention and if we need to start again we start again. Then he said “the new head coach” wants to see a much more direct positive approach and doesn’t want to see the ball going backwards or sideways when it can go forward.

That sounds like Chelsea to me and I don’t see many ball playing centre halves in their team. I also put 3 of them in my fantasy team every year because they always rack up clean sheets and goals from set plays – when did one of our centre halves last score?

Whilst I think we may end up selling one of Shots (a player who’s reputation fell faster than a male Sky pundit not aware of an off-screen hidden camera) or Albentosa (pitched as the new Igor, performed like the new Bjorn Otto Bragstad), the potential abundance of defenders does not worry me for two reasons.

Firstly I believe there is every chance we will play 5 at the back more often than not. So you could have a defence that looks like this. Thus giving us three players capable of winning ball in both boxes and two full backs who are great going forward and can relax a little about defending.defence1

The second is the appointment of Karl Halabi who will be monitoring “player training and game load”. This is known in the trade as periodization and is a method of planning football activities across the season to maximise performance and avoid injury. If you want to know more you can check out the, slightly up his own arse, architect of the concept, Dutch coach Raymond Verheijen on twitter.

It’s obvious that we were hurt badly by injuries last season but our management of these was poor and Martin’s injury in particular had been in the post for a while with the amount of games he played.

To make this work properly we will need a bigger squad and will probably use it more than ever. Thus you could even have a “second choice” defence that looks like this (Yes ok I know Shacks would always be first choice but he isn’t here yet). Note, Carson stays unless it’s the Simod Cup.defence2

Anyways plenty to ponder as ever and if today’s link to Bridcutt is true, I may well be writing one of these on the midfield next week!

Up the Rams


Posted on June 20, 2015, in General Rams Comment and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Interesting read , nice one. Particularly interesting to read the comments of the DCFC coach

  2. Clive Collings

    Indeed. Really interesting. I had wondered about three centre-backs too. It does solve a few issues (attacking full-backs in a back four not being up to the defensive side of the game, a large number of centre-backs on the books!) but it has the potential to create issues elsewhere (wing-backs are unlikely to require wingers further forward – where would that leave the roles of Russell, Weimann, Dawkins, Ince (if purchased)…). Also, it wouldn’t solve the equation about fitting Hughes, Bryson and Hendrick into one team, particularly if you take it as read that Thorne plays in a defensive-midfield role if fit (and I think it should be a given).

    Finally, and while I agree that Carson is unlikely to have come to Derby to warm the bench, I do think Lee Grant has been hammered unfairly for his role in the end-of-season slump. Prior to the Wolves game (which obviously had a huge impact on his personal confidence), he was as consistent and reliable as any Championship keeper. He is an excellent shot-stopper and generally reliable with crosses and set pieces. I think he suffered by being exposed by the poor form in front of him (Keogh, Christie, Forsyth…) and the lack of cover supplied by Thorne or Eustace. He remains a perfectly good keeper for this level.

    Anyway, good, interesting read.

    • Great comments Clive thanks for taking the time to post.

      On Grant the Wolves error was one of those things that happens to every keeper. However I cant agree with you on his work around crosses and set pieces. Yes, the keeper needs confident dominant defenders. But defenders need the same from their keeper.

      To my mind he never recovered from the Forest game and was a liability from that point. A spell on the sidelines will do him good and he can definitely bounce back. Shame McClaren or Steele didn’t see that last year.

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