Bitter Weak Symphony – Wigan Away
Yesterday I was part of a large Derby support which made its way to bottom of the table Wigan for the traditional Boxing Day football fix.
As you will know, a solid display by Ben Hamer and a last gasp goal from Waggy saved Derby from yet more away day misery, but here’s my thoughts on the game and some of the bigger issues currently facing the Rams.
Last weekend I also went to the Reading game where Derby actually played some decent stuff (with 10 men) and were really unlucky, hitting the woodwork twice and the ref letting us down badly with a couple of big penalty calls on Knight. Yesterday, make no mistake, the Rams were awful against an equally poor Wigan team who must be devastated to have been done with a last gasp goal out of nowhere by us for the second time this season.
From the word go, the Rams looked disjointed and sloppy and it was clear that several players just were not ‘at it’. The movement was non-existent, and the quality of passing was dreadful, clearly not a good look for a team with a possession-based philosophy.
After his mercurial comeback game against Preston, Fozzy has deteriorated game by game and his passing out from the back is simply woeful. After getting away with a couple, his awful ball to Bielek yesterday resulted in our best player getting a cheap booking then walking a tightrope for 30 minutes, whilst simultaneously running around trying to put out fires, mostly caused by his team mates. Cocu was right to sub him.
Bogle is also really struggling and looks a shadow of himself. I have heard that the mistake at Forest hit him hard and I have no doubt that the current transfer speculation is also in his mind. Cocu has a decision to make there before the Charlton game and I think we have to see Wizzer in at RB or CB for that one.
Whilst I get this team is not the same team we had last season, there is still quality and every so often they click into a piece of quick fire interchange around the box and you wonder why they don’t do it more often? After a brutal period of nothing, a smart break yesterday ended with Lawrence playing in Waggy who added to his growing list of big misses this season with a shocking attempt with the goal gaping (not dissimilar to a move at Reading directly after their first goal which ended with Lawrence hitting the post when he should have buried it).
Talking of Lawrence, his performance yesterday was surely a new low even by his standards. His post car crash purple patch now seems a distant memory and his lazy, lacklustre showing yesterday was typified by his booking. Bielek (already on a yellow) piled in and won a crunching challenge to send the ball spinning out to Lawrence, who preferred to bottle the impact and hit their guy late with a snide one, resulting in his 10th yellow and 2 match ban. The only positive being the ref inexplicably stopping the game to do the honours on Tom as a Wigan striker was running clean through on the Derby goal. I don’t think many Derby fans will miss him and, based on recent performances, I don’t think Tom will be arsed either. Any opportunity to move him on now, we have to take it.
Jason Knight remains a shining light of positive energy in this awful period. However, to my untrained eye, he seemed to be playing far wider yesterday than he was in his dynamite display at Reading. Surely the sensible thing to do was get Holmes out wide, who has a trick, and get Knight amongst the action and joining in with our strikers?
Martin was massively isolated all afternoon and was limited to chasing channels and trying to get flicks, with no hope of anyone going past him even when he did get hold of the ball, which is clearly not his game. When Marriott was introduced on the hour the Derby end were visibly lifted only to be bought down to earth immediately by the managers bizarre decision to sub Martin and not Waggy, who was having a stinker and had also been smashed by their keeper. Cocu will no doubt feel vindicated as Waggy ultimately saved the day, but when it seems so obvious that Martin needs a Marriott and Marriott needs a Martin, you wonder why the manager doesn’t see that – especially in such a winnable game as this.
Criticizing Cocu online generally goes down about as well as a picture of a fat American with a smoking gun and a dead giraffe. However, regardless of the awful hand he has been dealt, the fact remains he should be doing a lot better than he is. I think its also clear that the view of the general match paying public is massively less tolerant than the majority of the #dcfcfans you see on twitter. Had we lost yesterday I have no doubt it would have been very ugly post match. As it was, Waggys banger gave the large Rams support the last minute limbs and associated relief that their loyalty deserved.
Common sense dictates that swapping your manager regularly is a bad thing. Cocu’s track record at PSV also points to him being a manager who builds something slowly rather than lighting a flame and turning it up to eleven immediately. However, when you are pulling positives from a 0-3 beating against a very poor Reading and wildly celebrating scraping a draw against an even worse Wigan, then something isn’t right.
The Rams simply are not improving, in fact they are getting worse, with the notable exceptions of Max Lowe and Jason Knight. Confidence is shot and we desperately need some new faces and some of our existing ones getting out of the treatment room asap.
If we can pull 3 or 4 signings off in Jan, get Clarke and Shinnie back on the pitch with Rooney, then we should be able to stabilise and start to build for next year. However, if the current form continues much into February then the manager might have some tougher questions to answer.
Footnote on Wigan – What a great away day this is. Pubs are all super friendly and welcoming, there’s a tonne of parking right by the ground and the pies are fully justified in being recognised as the best in the country. The away end is great and the sound system is tremendous, which is just as well as the in house DJ is a legend. The team run out to Kasabian first half, Doves second half, he drops local hot shots the Lathums the moment the ref blew for half time and then banged on the Verve to see everyone home at the final whistle. It would be such a shame if they went down.
Posted on December 27, 2019, in General Rams Comment and tagged derby county, Jason Knight, Krystian Bielik, Martin Waghorn, Phillip Cocu, ramspace, the rams, Tom Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.