|RamsWeek 23 - Everybody's Talkin'|
Sun 08th Jun 2008 23:04 by Paul Mortimer
After a busy time at Pride Park Stadium last week, further transfer activity was anticipated.
Monday kicked it off again with the capture of ex-F*rest winger Kris Commons. He joined the Rams on a free transfer and is the first player to move directly from the City Ground to Derby County for 15 years, the last one being Gary Charles in July 1993.
Glasgow Rangers chased the signature of Rams’ Scottish striker Kenny Miller, finally settling the transfer fee in the region of £2m with the deal to be completed in the next few days. Some Rangers fans object to the signing and complain that Miller is not of the standard Rangers require and are protesting at the signing.
That’s Walter Smith’s lookout, really! Kenny is allegedly taking a pay cut and should have enough ability to prosper within the mediocrity of most of the SPL and will enjoy European football next season. Miller obviously fancies Scotland above the rigours of the Championship, didn’t want to stay loyal to Derby, so like most current Rams players, in our eyes he will remain a one-season wonder (or blunder!)
With Blackburn Rovers boss Mark Hughes joining Manchester City, it was silly season again in the press. A few weeks ago, they declared that Paul Jewell was supposed to be getting the chop from Derby; now they put him on their short list of possible replacements for Hughes at Blackburn! Jewell and the club were quick to point out yet again that Derby are in the middle of major squad rebuilding and the manager is going nowhere else.
There was also renewed media speculation about the future of midfielder Giles Barnes, with promoted West Brom and a host of clubs again linked with him. Mr Pearson said it would be unusual if Giles moved as he was in the process of rehabilitation from a serious injury but that offers could be considered.
Noting that Manchester United and Arsenal are willing to pay £5m for young Cardiff City starlet Aaron Ramsey - who has played just 22 Championship games - perhaps Barnes is worth quite a chunk of someone’s money too? Hopefully clubs expecting a cut-price deal for Giles would be told to take a running jump. Albion, now resigned to losing Zoltan Gera, might bid a similar amount for Barnes, according to reports.
Adam Pearson, the Rams’ Chairman of Football Operations, expects several more ins and outs during June. Nicely on cue, Swansea’s star player Ferrie Bodde, whom Derby covets, put in a written transfer request - the Swans then rejected Derby’s 2nd bid, believed to be almost £1m. The speculation dragged on all week until on Saturday, when the Rams declared that they were no longer pursuing the player.
The Swan’s chairman Huw Jenkins is sticking on his £2m valuation, which is more than 10 times what he cost Swansea a year ago. Bodde is a talent but he is overstating the case to declare that Ferrie would be an ever-present in a top four Premier League team!
He’s never even played in the Championship let alone the Prem - and Rams fans don’t need reminding of the gulf between the top two divisions. The ambiguity of the player’s future and delays over receiving a fee will also stall Swansea’s own team building. Bodde elected to put in a transfer request and so he will soon move to a bigger stage, I’m sure.
Likewise with Rob Hulse, the Sheffield United target man; he was on Paul Jewell’s shopping list but Derby halted at a bid of £1.75m and so left United to their large collection of centre forwards. Having removed the burden of Earnshaw and Miller’s wages from Derby’s costs, the manager was still seeking a robust front-runner and has turned his attention to Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll.
Further transfer targets became clearer on the horizon as definite Derby interest was acknowledged. They have made an offer for Steve Davies, Tranmere’s 20 year-old left-sided attacker.
The highly rated youngster is available on a Bosman transfer but Derby would be obliged to pay Rovers a fee because he is under 24 years of age. Derby hope that they won’t be snookered by having to let a tribunal set a fee and they will also hope that Steve is fully recovered from a knee ligament injury he suffered last September.
Mr Pearson also commented that Derby scouts would be attending Euro 2008 games with ‘specific targets’ in mind. The Rams are apparently still seeking a midfielder or two, (this could include Tranmere’s Steve Davies), a centre half and a couple of forwards and the club want to add four or five more players to the squad by the end of this month.
He acknowledged that shipping current players out of Pride Park Stadium might be a longer process because of their poor performances last season and buying clubs’ desire to keep wages off the books until as late as possible. Some of the players that Derby no longer require may therefore linger until the August 31st transfer window deadline. We’ll be busy watching better players in their stead, hopefully!
So there was plenty of contact and groundwork being undertaken this week by Jewell, Pearson and others to keep the impetus of necessary change with the playing squad. Apart from the Kris Commons capture however, it was a case of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’, with the Rams in liaison with such as Swansea, Sheffield United, Tranmere and unnamed other clubs far and wide with out tangible results in the public domain.
Former Ram Lee Holmes, Derby’s youngest debutant at 15 years and 288 days of age when appearing as a substitute against Grimsby Town in 2002, has signed for Southampton.
The banished Robert Earnshaw treated us to a ‘victim of circumstance’ interview, saying his face didn’t fit at Derby and he had to get out. He oddly believed Rams fans wouldn’t feel ill will towards him; I’m not so sure, after he seemed to promptly fall out of favour with Billy Davies.
Then he was reminded by both Paul Jewell and Welsh boss John Toshack that he should look at himself and step up his efforts. Rob - look no further than a mirror for your reasons for failure. You were a flop and lousy value for money.
In mitigation, the perennial instability at Derby County at managerial and boardroom level no doubt contributed to the abject chaos on the field and Earnshaw quickly became a bit-part player. It would be interesting to learn more about the relationships and demands that Billy Davies visited upon the promoted Derby County, followed by all the reorganisation in the GSE takeover and Jewell’s appointment.
Whatever, I think the best place for Earnshaw is in N*ttingham; he contributed zilch when it was incumbent up on him to deliver the goods for his teammates at a sell-out stadium with a supportive fanbase. Derby lost £1m in offloading him and Earnshaw received the usual ludicrous Premier League contract rewards that any journeyman player can command nowadays.
Lewin Nyatanga was again linked with a move to Nothingham F*rest or Barnsley FC, and a promising 21-year old Ghanaian, Anthony Annan, was linked with the Rams, though half a dozen clubs - including 4 Premier League teams - are chasing his signature.
L**ds United are reportedly willing to pay £500k for winger Gary Teale, a prospect that would delight everyone. Billy Davies signed Teale early in 2007 for £600k; he provided the odd rare dash up the wing to help in the promotion push that season but was as ineffectual as anyone else for Derby in the Premier League - and there were plenty of contenders!
He was shovelled off to Plymouth Argyle for the second half of 2007-08 and they haven’t made a bid, so maybe Division One Leeds would be a suitable home for him.
The Euro 2008 Championship is under way, with joint hosts Austria and Switzerland looking a little short of the quality needed to progress very whilst fancied teams Portugal, Croatia and Germany all claimed wins in their first group games.
It diminishes the interest somewhat with the absence of any UK interest in the tournament but you can be a little detached and enjoy the games as they come. Let’s also hope the Rams are in the frame to capture a player or two from participating nations to spice up the squad next season!
This time last year, there was a varied news diet for Rams fans. It was revealed that Giles Barnes broke his foot in the Wembley play-off final victory over WBA and that the Rams were close to securing full back Tyrone Mears on a permanent deal for £1m from West Ham.
RamsWeek 23 saw Derby still bathed in the excitement of promotion and anticipation that the club would move forward with the ‘big boys’ and 23,500 season tickets had been sold.
The long-awaited appointment of Billy Davies acolyte David Kelly as assistant manager at Derby was as close or distant as it had been for 9 months but Derby still expected to get their man soon.
Davies would continue recruiting backroom staff in the meantime and fans hoped for rather more productivity in Derby’s efforts to recruit some Premier quality player signings as soon as possible.
The Marples' double act were on their way out of the boardroom at Pride Park Stadium and Mr Gadsby was busy recruiting a whole tranche of new operational and commercial reinforcements for Derby County’s non-football staff complement. The Rams also found time to launch a revised club logo.
Mr Gadsby announced that the club hoped to commence work on extending the capacity of Pride Park Stadium too 44,000 - which would have been taking place right about now had the Rams sustained their Premier League status. Fat chance!
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