Paint A Vulgar Picture
In the month of December I wrote a series of articles for this blog as part of the Ramspace advent calendar feature.
Although the topics and people covered were varied, there was a common thread of positivity, underpinned by a clear conviction that the Rams, along with Middleborough, were in the process of storming their way into the Premier league.
This was a very different Rams team and head coach and there was no way we would fall away again, as in previous years.
Six weeks later, Paul Clement is consigned to DCFC history and the Rams are arguably in the biggest state of turmoil we have seen since the horror days of Phil Brown and the 3 Amigos.
Derby’s collapse has been as remarkable as it has been harrowing for us, the long suffering fans. Whatsmore, with a string of PR gaffs that would make Fawaz cringe, the Rams well earned reputation as a well run operation who “do things the right way” lies in tatters alongside our hopes of automatic promotion. The football world loves a harsh sacking and press and pundits have queued up to bore us with “footballs gone mad” rants at the expense of the not so super Rams.
So let’s start with Clement’s sacking. I was as surprised as anyone when the news broke but I didn’t think it was as far away as some. I’d actually said to my dad and on twitter that if we didn’t beat MKD, Clement may have a problem.
There is no question that the sacking was harsh and a definite direct contradiction to various public statements (including your season ticket pack) that Clement was our man. That said, with the Rams still within striking distance of the top two, Paul seemed no closer to bringing the team out of their downward spiral.
Before the Fulham game I thought it was great we had made wholesale changes. Afterwards I thought he’s throwing things at the wall here and has no idea on his best team, system or how to turn the ship around. The football was poor but no one cares if you win. When the points dry up and the footballs still poor, then there’s a problem.
Weirdly I think the Man Utd game was actually the killer blow for Clement. Derby may not have been disgraced but our negative set up and pattern of play gave the Reds an easy night when they were there for the taking.
So the sacking itself I was ok with, confident that someone was waiting in the wings to re-ignite the Rams and get the show back on the road. Then the real problems began.
Appointing Darran Wassall until the end of the season I was sure was a smokescreen and we’ll get to him in a minute. However whatever Mel really meant by his statements, what he achieved was making Derby a laughing stock and causing widespread unrest amongst our fans.
The “Derby way” thing has already been done really well by the Derby County Blog, but to suggest that promotion isn’t a priority after spending £25m on players is at best outrageous and at worst bonkers. You would like to think Mel was trying to defend the decision by pointing out it wasn’t down to league position, but if he was, he could have worded it significantly better. If promotion isn’t our main target, why are we even bothering to compete in the league and why should anyone pay good money to watch a team who aren’t fussed about going up?
Anyway, our new manager will sort all that out. But hang on, it seems we really are going to let Wassall have a proper shot, with every manager link dismissed out of hand and assurances that Darren knows the players, club and culture better than anyone. He’s also the best motivator in the club apparently.
There are two common opinions on Wassall. One is of the figurehead of our Academy, a key player in its development as one of the best in English football. The second is of a sycophantic opportunist, given his job by a mate, whose entire reputation is built on the fact that Jeff, OB and Hughes were just graduating as he arrived. You decide.
With Saturdays pathetic performance against MKD (in front of an astonishing 30,000 crowd) and his crazy post match analysis, what he certainly isn’t is the answer to our problems, an inspiration to anyone or anywhere near suitable to be dealing with such a massive job for more than a few weeks. And make no mistake our club is in an awful situation.
On the pitch almost every single player in our squad who isn’t a defender or keeper is hopelessly out of form. We have £4m of January signings that appear to be substandard & can’t get on the pitch (or even the bench in Camara’s case) and nobody seems to have any idea what our best team, formation or pattern of play should be.
Off the pitch, we have the Clough disciples who lambasted our summer spending lapping up the current misery and poor form of our team, we have even the most ardent Rams fan questioning the sanity of our previously god like owner and we have a lot of season ticket packs that won’t be getting completed and returned anytime soon. Then just when you think things can’t get any lower, we get one of our greatest players in recent history sending a seemingly contrived open letter asking us all to stay calm and get behind the club. Whoever came up with that piece of sub A-level PR can fuck right off.
So how do we fix it?
I tweeted last night that the biggest issue now is Rams fans have no-one to believe in. The players are losing friends by the game, our manager isn’t a manager and our hero, local boy done good Chairman is all over the shop (and our dressing room and the media and YouTube).
What we need is a proper manager. Now. I don’t even mind if it’s initially to the end of the season as long as it’s someone new. Who that should be is an article in its own right but frankly right now I’m not even bothered. I would even have taken Warnock for 3 months, at least he would have cracked some heads and shown some passion.
Ridiculously, we are still very much in the promotion mix. Add 5 points from PNE and MKD to our tally and look at the table. However what we need now is not champagne supernova football, not consistent team selection and not 4 lads from the Academy sat on the bench.
We of course urgently need to win a game of football. But even before that, our great club needs its self-respect back.