Another New Era? I Should Cocu!
With the Rams pre-season in full swing and the transfer market stating to crank up into life, I thought it was high time to pass comment on what has, again, been a summer of massive change at Derby County.
When Gary Rowett left Derby for Stoke last summer, it was unimaginable that he would be replaced by Frank Lampard. Fast forward twelve months and, if that seemed far-fetched, we now have Frank being replaced by Philip Cocu. Absolute madness, but hopefully in a good way.
Now the dust has settled let’s first deal with Frank’s departure. Derby fans have spent most of the summer arguing over the whys and wherefores, rights and wrongs of his early return to Chelsea. What everyone agreed on was that it was a real shame and took way, way too long.
With regard to the big picture, Derby were hit with a really unlucky set of circumstances that made the Chelsea job almost perfect for Frank and Jody around 2 years earlier than it should have been. The Transfer ban, Juventus taking Sarri, Hazard leaving, the rise of CHO and RLC for England taking the clamour for youngsters at Chelsea to be given a chance to new levels and even Allegri deciding to have a year out, all created a perfect storm that made Frank and Jody a shoe in.
We will never know why an appointment that was so nailed on took so long. Sarri was a dead man walking so you are not telling me Frank wasn’t talking to Chelsea within days of the play off final. Certainly the formal permission piece was a joke. Yet Rams fans had to suffer weeks of nothing, whilst Mel was snookered in both the transfer market and in any attempt to progress with a new coach aggressively. Frank and particularly Jody just about pulled it back with genuine honest and kind words about the club upon their actual departure, but the general lack of respect shown by Chelsea (and their London media mates) was an absolute disgrace by any standard.
Frank was generally transformational for Derby, raising our profile out of the Championship sludge and leaves us in decent shape to push on again. Last season was undeniably brilliant in so many ways and delivered so many outstanding moments that will last forever. He very nearly pulled off the impossible dream. However, for me, Franks catastrophic team selection at Wembley will always remain part of his legacy at Derby.
Without even just the transfer ban, I honestly don’t think Frank would have got the call just yet, but the aforementioned set of circumstances, means this season is a free hit for all parties at Stamford Bridge. Year 2 we will find out if this is a genuine appointment or if Chelsea are merely using Lampard’s name to navigate some choppy waters, very much as GSE did with Nigel Clough at Derby. Time will tell if Frank is as smart as we all think he is.
So the circus has left town and now we move forward in to the Phillip Cocu era.
Very much like when Rowett left, the appointment came right from left field with Rams fans becoming increasingly depressed about the list of dullards being proposed by the bookies.
Mel’s Radio Derby interview about how the move came about was fascinating and almost suggested Mel had googled “successful coaches who play young players”. “Pep and Klopp were top, Philip was 12th. As the Frank move seemed to be progressing we thought we’d reach out”. Then if you thought that was good, he wants some Championship know how to support the Dutch guys, so he employs the only intelligent pundit off the TV who has pretty much watched highlights of every game in the league every week for the last 12 months plus. You’ve just got to love Mel.
Going for a foreign coach has been mooted by many for some time and is pretty much the only thing we haven’t now tried. However Cocu is no Dortmund Academy coach and arrives with a glittering playing career at the highest elite level (like Lamps) but also with a healthy string of titles and trophies on his management CV (unlike Lamps, who is about to start driving a Ferrari after only passing his test 12 months ago).
Mel has spoken a lot about continuing the philosophy that Frank started and Cocu’s nationality and links to Barca would suggest that he will be no stranger to 4-3-3, blooding young players and playing out from the back. However reports also suggest he is not opposed to mixing things up should the situation require it. All of which bodes well in a league where everyone agrees you need different ways to win on a weekly basis.
As we know, Chelsea having a meltdown over Instagram being down cost us the chance to do any sort of presentation of King Phillip before we had to bundle him on a plane to Florida. However with 4 days of the US training camp to go, hope springs eternal that RamsTV will still have time to parachute in Kieran Lee for the celebrity welcome to Derby piece as a polite nod to Dutch culture.
At the time of writing, Derby have in the last hour or so confirmed Kieron Dowell on a season loan as our first summer signing proper to add to the early signing of Graham Shinnie. However they certainly appear to be active with a number of names popping up which appear to have some foundation – Krystian Bielik, Martin Skrtel and Ivan Cavaleiro for three.
The buzz is definitely on the way back and, with the Frank saga now committed to history, it will be great to see how the friendlies go, get Cocu home and presented properly and get signing some more players.
Let the games begin.
Come on you Rams!