When Does the Cricket Start?
The Rams stormed into 2018 on a tidal wave of feel good vibes. Carson was biblical, the defence was impregnable, Vydra was on fire and we had the best manager in the league.
But what about Derby’s new year curse? “Not with this team” they said, “Rowett won’t let that happen” they said, “Too much know how” they said.
Fast forward 6 weeks, as Derby stumble into Spring wondering where the next win is coming from, its tough for even the most ardent of Rams fans to not be thinking, “here we go again”.So where has it all gone wrong?
Firstly, it’s important to stress, it’s not yet gone completely McClaren. With 13 games to play we are still right in the mix for everything and we’ve still only lost the one game in recent months. But there is no doubt, particularly at home, we’ve drawn far too many of late and 1 point from games against woeful Sheff Wed and Leeds sides simply isn’t good enough.
We seem to be creating more situations than ever, but the goals have dried up. Winnall’s injury and particularly the timing of it (just as the window closed) was rotten luck but with Russell’s departure (which the club must have at least had a strong idea about for weeks before it was announced) we surely should have gone harder and earlier for a replacement wide man. Whatever you think of JR, he regularly popped up with goals and assists, certainly more than Anya is ever going to do. So, when GR talks of others helping Vydra, you’ve lost two lads there who did and not really replaced them.
With Nuge losing form at the wrong time and not being helped by being chopped about with Jarome, who himself is trying to fit into the side and win over the Rams fans, its not a great picture up top. You also have our marquee signing Lawrence struggling badly for form, confidence and to win over the increasingly fickle Derby support at exactly the wrong time.
At the other end, its inexplicable to me that we didn’t sign a left back in January. I can only assume Rowett looked at the run of clean sheets and decided he didn’t need to do anything. With Fozzy continuing to pay 1 good game then 2 bad ones as he struggles to recapture his old form and Olsson being occasionally average but mostly shit, the left back remains a major weakness – massively costly in the last two games. I would personally put Baird there, with the added bonus GR will stop rotating him with Wizzer, which I don’t understand at all.
Talking of GR, what he has done this season so far is monumental for sure, but he’s not had a great few weeks himself and seems increasingly spikey when challenged on why things are wobbling. His Clough esque stubborn refusal to make changes at Sheffield Wednesday when the game was absolutely screaming for it (the first time in over 35 years of watching Derby I’ve heard Rams fans singing for a sub) was not a good look I hope we don’t see again.
Outside of all the above, its also fair to say the rub of the green we enjoyed regularly earlier in the season has deserted us massively. Witness bad calls against Bristol and Millwall costing us 4 points, a stonewall pen at Wednesday turned down with a good 25 mins to play and a ludicrous succession of goalmouth incidents where we just can’t catch a break.
You don’t need me to tell you the last 4 years have followed an identical pattern of the Rams manoeuvring themselves into a great position, only to fall off a cliff and everyone just wanting the season to finish at the end of March.
It’s import to say again, I don’t think we are quite at that point as yet. However, there is no doubt that this next few weeks will be the biggest test of Gary Rowett’s time at Derby so far. Let’s hope he aces it for the sanity of the already emotionally scarred, long suffering Derby fans.
Come on you Rams.