The Beginning of the Twist
Due to, what ended up being, the best part of a month away from Derbados, I missed all of pre-season and also the first three games. Thus all my Rams viewing up to that point was done via Twitter and YouTube.
This week, I started to play catch-up by attending both the Preston and Villa games. Thus here’s some general thoughts on those games and the progress of the Pearson era thus far.
I think its reasonably clear to everyone that Pearson is starting from the back, which is absolutely the way all teams who are successful in the EFL (much better than typing the Championship) roll. Four out of Five clean sheets is a great habit to get into. Keogh and particularly Shacks (who had an awful end to last season) were superb yesterday but the defensive shape, work-rate and general solidity of the team does definitely look better than it has for some time.
The big discussion point is really at the other end of the pitch. Goals and general attacking threat have been in short supply in the context of what we have been used to. Some of this is players getting used to new shapes and finding a balance with new defensive responsibilities but we need to find a way of scoring more goals. In parallel to our defensive improvement, 2 goals in 5 games, both scored by defenders, needs a drastic improvement. Pearson said before the season we needed to score more goals than we did last year so I am sure this will change shortly. Which brings me nicely onto…….
Almost 90% of the transfer rumours and suggested activity in the next 10 days around the Rams is based on strikers. The Rams (along with Wolves and the three relegated teams) have pretty much been linked to every striker in the league and we now have James Wilson and a new link to Bamford. The most interesting debate in all of this is Wolves interest in Chris Martin. Debate has raged on twitter with the two views being we should cash in and freshen up the striking department versus why you would sell one of the best strikers in the league to one of your rivals. My view is that if Wolves bid £8m plus we should sell. I also believe (personal view) that Pearson doesn’t particularly like him and I also think Martins petulant, mardy display when the chips were down against Benfica planted a seed with the manager that has festered ever since. If we can land a replacement I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go and I can also see Blackman going somewhere on loan until January. It should be an interesting 10 days!
However it pans out, if last season was a massive opportunity to get out the league, this year really does look tough. Villa are a work in progress for sure but looked a good side yesterday with Jedinak (what a signing he would have been for DCFC) about to join them. Newcastle and Norwich are already in their stride and now we have Wolves throwing money everywhere as well. Add to that Brighton and Sheff Wed and even top 6 isn’t going to be a formality never mind the top two. DCFC will be in the mix for sure but I think we may all have to accept that with the work Pearson needs to do and the opposition this year, promotion at the first tilt really would be a superhuman effort.
So what of our new manager? To me there are two big things. Firstly he clearly knows what he is doing and has an established, proven way of going about his business that gives you confidence. His interviews are sensible, measured and assured. The second thing is that for the first time in as long as I can remember, Derby have a manager which seems to watch the same game I do. When things aren’t going to plan he changes the things we can all see that are wrong as opposed to some random change based on a personal agenda. Early days for sure but I have every confidence that this is the manager to finally take us forward.
Aside from transfer mayhem, we have a cup game and a trip to Burton before the transfer window. Whilst you have to respect Burton’s unbelievable rise, I don’t really have too much time for them and it would make a good solid start if we could round off this group of games by smashing them next Friday, perhaps with a debut goal for a new striker.
Come on you Rams!