Opportunity Knocks….But the Doorbell is Broken
As the dust settles on another round of play off disappointment for Derby County, despite one of the most enjoyable seasons for many years, Rams fans are once again left to ponder “what might have been”.
Whilst the feeling after QPR was one of utter devastation, the feeling after yesterday’s defeat, for me, was more one of frustration at a great opportunity missed.
After a barnstorming run into the play-off picture, Villa were many peoples favourites to win the play offs outright before a ball was kicked. However after scraping by West Brom by the skin of their teeth as Derby pulled off one of the greatest play-off wins ever by anybody, the pre match forecasting was probably fairly even. Who would win the tactical battle? Who would turn up? Who would get the small margins of luck? Who would produce quality when it mattered? Who would make a mistake?
Whilst I don’t think it is fair at all to say Derby didn’t turn up, the majority of those questions certainly didn’t go in Derby’s favour.
Let’s start with the big question of the team selection. Frank has dropped surprises all season so it was no shock to see him do so yesterday. I could see the theory I guess in his plan, but there can be no doubt that all Rams fans seeing both Marriott AND Waggy on the bench at the expense of Huddz and Bennett turned to their mates and gasped a collective “FFS”. No doubt Villa fans would have seen no Marriott and thought “decent”.
To be fair to the individuals, both Bennett and Huddz played ok. But, for all his admirable merits, Bennett is not a goal scorer. Equally Huddz hit some great balls but with no wingers and also Johnson next to him, he was limited in what he could aim for. In short, we were too cautious and handed the initiative to Villa for too long, which ultimately cost us.
I love Frank, his tenure at our club has truly been transformational and he has given us more memories in 9 months than we have seen since Jim Smith. However, until he gives me a solid reason to think otherwise, I think he is being a prick about Marriott.
Every top team needs a goal scorer and Marriott is the most natural finisher we have had in years. Yes I’ve seen him get dominated on occasion, but I have never once seen him play and thought him lazy (unlike several other more naturally gifted team mates who occasionally don’t seem to fancy it, but are regularly excused due to their end product potential). I don’t see him training of course, but indications from his previous club suggest he is a first in last out merchant, so what’s going on? Things seem to have been amiss since he was ‘ill’ earlier in the season. Was he ill? Was there a fall out? A disciplinary issue? He changed the game at Leeds, He changed the game at Wembley. Even if he had 10 more minutes, we may have done it.
I hope I am wrong, but I am currently struggling to see Jack AND Frank both being here next season, which is gutting. Let’s hope Mel has this high on his agenda for his end of season meeting with Frank this week.
Whilst we definitely did not help ourselves, Villa actually didn’t create a great deal and you will never see two softer goals in a Wembley final. The first going in the corner perfectly off the players back/shoulder, the second being thrown in by our keeper and killing Franks ‘hold them, then hit them’ tactic stone dead.
Kelle Roos has generally done well since his promotion to number one. Up to a few weeks ago, I thought he was ok but not the answer. However, he was winning me over with increasingly confident displays, especially at Bristol. Yesterday he looked a nervous wreck kicking one straight down the middle to Grealish and then nearly getting caught in possession even before the big error for the goal. If he goes for that with arms raised or punches, he wins the ball or gets a free kick every time. Going shoulder to shoulder in an attempted bread basket catch, was a horrific call which may even cost him his Rams future. Why always us?
As the Rams swarmed all over Villa in a frantic last 15 minutes after our goal, you just prayed for one bit of luck or magic to force extra time (which would surely have led to a Derby win with Mings off the pitch), but just when we really needed it, that final decision or quality final ball just wasn’t there. In the words of Sean Beane – ‘Bastard’.
Fair play to Villa. Their players, fans and staff conducted themselves with dignity whilst obviously loving their win. I also have to put a shout out to Grealish who was one of the only Villa players to come away from their own celebrations to shake hands with the Derby players. Respect due.
Villa have some class individuals for sure and my strong view is that Frank got this wrong, but there was still nothing in this game. Without the error, it goes 1-1 with Mings off, then who knows? Like I said, small margins and massive frustration.
So into the summer we go with, as per in the world of DCFC, more questions than answers. Will Frank get the call from Chelsea? Will he accept it? Who will be on the retained list? What does Jody Morris Insta post mean? Will Marriott be sold? Will Mel secure new investment? Is Shinnie the combative midfield leader we’ve needed for so long? How the bloody hell do we replace Wilson, Mount and Tomori? Who else is on the shopping list?
No doubt this will all start to play out in early course so hold on to your hats everyone, this could be a lively ride.
Posted on May 28, 2019, in General Rams Comment, Post Match Thoughts and tagged Aston Villa, derby county, Frank Lampard, Jack Grealish, Jack Marriott, Jody Morris, Mason Bennett, ramspace, the rams. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.