10th – Chris Evans
Behind todays window is probably one of the most debated characters in the recent history of Derby County.
No, not Mel Morris, Steve McClaren, Sam Rush, Keogh or any other player. It’s ex head of recruitment Chris Evans!
When Chris was appointed, it was the first time such a role had been occupied at Derby, so clearly in the public domain. Chris spoke well initially of new software, hard work and the Rams being at the cutting edge of player recruitment.
An absolutely tremendous interview by Joel on the DCFC podcast (scandalously copied by Radio Derby about a week later) gave even more information, with Chris talking of target lists of 10 players in every position for the Championship, The Premier League and the U21 squad. To those who have read a few books on the topic this isn’t ground-breaking stuff, but it was great and exciting to hear the Rams talking in these terms.
Then the recruitment started and the debate begins.
You can write an individual piece on each signing and there are obvious hits and misses that have been covered before. There’s also the point that not every signing will work anywhere. However with Chris I think we can look at his recruitment in two parts.
In terms of his U-21 recruitment, I think decisions to sign these players largely came from his desk and as none (Jon Mitchell you could argue) are looking likely to trouble the first team anytime soon, you have to say this group were not good enough and you can expect a good chunk of Bujanku, Koblenz, Calero, McDonald etc to leave this summer and be replaced by genuine academy graduates.
With regard to the first team it’s not so black and white. The key for me is that Evans only suggested and physically signed the players – to my mind he didn’t authorise the moves. “I present Steve with a list of players” was a common mantra.
He also certainly wasn’t responsible for picking Mascarell over Eustace in tough away games and vice versa in winnable homes games. He didn’t leave Cyrus Christie in the line of fire when he was mentally shot. He didn’t decide to buy another winger in Lingaard when we so clearly needed a replacement for Eustace and Martin and he wasn’t responsible for the welfare of Albentosa once the contract was in the can. He also bought us Bamford, Ince and Ibe who were all tremendous players for the Rams.
He was probably implicated somehow in Ryan Shotton and there’s no excuse for that, but you get the point.
After only a few months at the helm, Paul Clement decided to change the recruitment department and Chris left the club. PC no doubt wishing to utilise his own contacts and replicate things he’s seen at his previous clubs.
Most Rams fans, scarred by the car crash end to last season, would say good riddance but I’m not sure that would entirely be fair.