Extreme Noise Terror
On the back of a string of disappointing results and awful performances since the Ipswich game, the Rams now infamous February hoodoo has again risen its ugly head and done its worst in de-railing our promotion push, mentally disturbing our manager and causing widespread upset, anger and discontent amongst the long suffering Derby County fanbase.
At half time in yesterday’s debacle in Villa, I tweeted that it was “a new low” and was called out by a few for over reacting. However yesterday’s shambles must surely rank right up there with some of our worst recent horrors.
With six changes to his starting line-up, many Derby fans (including me) said fair enough to Frank for mixing things up. To be fair, I think this was more in the context of “let’s try something different’ and general pre-match positivity as opposed to “yes that looks good”. In retrospect, the selection, particularly in Midfield, was suicidal. Villa are low on confidence and, like us, have a mish mash of players but they do have quality. Given the freedom of Birmingham to operate in, playground players like Grealish and Abraham, who like nothing better than killing poor opposition (not so keen on playing with the big boys), are going to take you apart and they did.
We all have a view on Bradley Johnson and I know he’s not the future, but surely as our only fit midfielder with any strength, competitive edge or likelihood of having a shot, he has to play in a game such as Villa away – or at least come on when its starts going tits. Max Bird is a really good player (who apparently actually did ok under the circumstances) with great potential, but I am struggling to see how sending him to the slaughter like this does anything for his development.
Frank has done lots of great things this season and we have definitely enjoyed some great moments, but he has also made some howlers that have cost us dearly. Off the top of my head, inexplicably dropping Marriott for Bristol City at home when he was flying (a game we could and should have easily won and may ultimately cost us the play offs), not playing Waggy for 2 months for no reason whatsoever, resting the entire midfield for Ipswich then playing 5-3-2 against Millwall and not changing it for 70 minutes.
I am not for one moment suggesting Frank out. However for all the profile, kudos, philosophy and pulling power, he is learning his trade so mistakes will inevitably happen and they certainly have in recent weeks.
Last week in his pre Villa press briefing Lampard openly said that we have a problem at our club with defaulting to the negative “here we go again” mentality at the slightest blip. Of course he is correct and the statement itself drew widespread praise from the Rams twitter massive. However my slight issue with this is twofold. Firstly in said presser, Lamps cut a very angry and frustrated figure himself; almost identical to the persona adopted by Gary Rowett at a similar time last year when his “the February hoodoo is bollocks” proclamation was stamped into the dust by the very same February hoodoo, whilst laughing its arse off in his face!
My second issue with this is whilst many of our ‘fans’ are way too quick to go extreme neg mode, and let’s not even start on the scapegoating gang, is it not human nature that when something bad happens repeatedly, you fear the worst when it starts to happen again? Add into that the nature of this year’s blip, 1 point from the worst team in the league (after taking lead inside 2 minutes), losing at home to the worst away team in the league without having a shot, then losing to a shite version of your local rivals without laying a glove on them.
In the interests of balance, there have been some mitigating circumstances. The injuries to Marriott (just when we needed him), Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence have killed us creatively. All players who move forwards and regularly shoot or assist. The subsequent pressure on young Harry Wilson to deliver has literally worn him out and he looks a shadow of the player from 2 months ago. Thus the chronic lack of cutting edge and the woeful chances created stats we keep reading.
Frank also suffered a hefty slap from the ghosts of season past with his inability to trade in the January window. Subsequently signing 3 players who hadn’t kicked a ball all season, one of which is already out injured for the duration just as he seemed to be getting into his stride (again in the interests of balance, the merits of dropping £15k per week on Ashley Cole over signing a young loan left back as cover and horrible 6ft 4 centre forward is an article in its own right).
There is no question that we as Rams fans all have some very deep scars from our experiences since 2014 and the only way to heal these is to break this ridiculous cycle of falling away in the new year then starting again with new managers players philosophies year after year.
The wheels have come off again and, for sure, Super Frank is currently having a very challenging time/an absolute Weston (delete to taste). But let’s not do anything drastic and give him the chance to do a proper refresh in the summer……assuming he doesn’t bugger off to Chelsea.
…..and by the way if we beat Wigan on Tuesday, we are right back in the game.
Keep the faith and come on you Rams.