|RamsWeek 34 - Am I Expecting Too Much?|
Sun 24th Aug 2008 23:56 by Paul Mortimer
The Rams could look forward to the home game with Southampton after battling back for a point at Ashton Gate last Saturday.
The players had a half time verbal blasting from Paul Jewell at Bristol and again, we hadn’t enjoyed a 90 minute performance from the team.
Ex-director Peter Gadsby ‘went off on one’ again about the club’s finances. “There is not one word in this latest statement to indicate that so much as a single dollar of new money ha been put into the club since the (GSE) takeover”, Gadsby declared. It seems unlikely that either protagonist will concede any ground.
There were media stories of dissent between the manager and Director of Football Operations Adam Pearson but Jewell and Pearson rubbished the idea of any rift. Pearson continued his rebuttal in his RAM matchday programme notes, saying that he is working to build a stable club that can facilitate a successful manager, as he has done elsewhere and that things will point forward with the action taken this summer.
Prodigal son Robbie Savage ate a bit more humble pie in saying that he had needed a kick up the rear from the manager and that he wanted to get his act together to play an important role in Derby’s resurgence. As yet, there was little to displace the fans’ unease with Savage’s presence at Derby County and their disappointment at his poor contribution since January.
Media talk of Dean Leacock moving to Preston or Burnley was rubbished by the club, which was just as well because we then had the bombshell that captain Alan Stubbs, forced to the sidelines again with another serious injury, has decided that at his age, fitness problems signal that it is time for him to retire.
It’s a bitter blow to the honest, battling defender and leaves Derby without their key defender as the club attempts to rebuild from the foundations that Jewell tried to establish earlier this year.
Arsenal’s 18 yr old forward Nacer Barazite, a Dutch Under-19 international, arrived on a 3-month loan and was immediately in contention for a first team place when he impressed in a closed-doors friendly at Moor Farm against Leicester City. Barazite gave a lively contribution with two assists for Emanuel Villa, who scored all three Derby goals.
The Rams are also trialling 27-year old RC Lens midfielder, Julien Sable, whilst young full back Jason Beardsley will stay on an extended loan with Notts County until the end of the year.
Liam Dickinson has surprisingly been loaned to Huddersfield for a month, even though he’s a highly touted player who cost Derby £750,000. Although he’s young, it’s disappointing for us not to get a look at him even as a substitute at League level.
With two further loanees in Barazite and Sable, Dickinson has soon been farmed out to gain experience and will miss out on Derby’s first team scene.
Dickinson is an athletic all-action player; the variation of using a tall, busy striker like him, even if it were via Route One aggression (though I think Dickinson is more accomplished than that) because of the occasions when Derby have already had to chase a game and strikers aren’t hitting the net.
On international duty, Mile Sterjovski rapped in a stunning volley for Australia in their 2-2 draw with South Africa at QPR’s Loftus Road ground and Kris Commons put in a competent debut Scottish appearance as a second half substitute in their goalless friendly with Northern Ireland at Hampden Park.
PJ went bullish this week in an interview, asking for everyone to be positive, though many fans feel that some wins on the board are required before blind faith can be nurtured. Such an awful, extended winless League run and the unconvincing displays so far in 2008-09 haven’t yet removed the hangover of disappointment from this fan and many others, Mr Jewell.
The club disclosed the costs of jettisoning the unwanted Benny Feilhaber, who cost Derby a £1m a year ago but did nothing. The severance has cost the Rams £250,000; Adam Pearson called Benny’s Derby interlude ‘a disaster’. Getting rid of another ambling American Eddie Lewis has cost a further £100k. He’s now gone off to sign for LA Galaxy, relaxing with the Beckhams in the somewhat nondescript USA league. Nice work if you can get it, especially with a fat pay-off in your back pocket.
Saturday brought another false dawn and more disappointment as Southampton - looking anything but a struggling team after two opening defeats - won much more comfortably then the 1-0 scoreline suggests.
Paul Jewell made two changes from the Bristol match in replacing Pereplotkins with Steve Davies and (strangely) preferring Rob Hulse to partner the returning Emanuel Villa to Nathan Ellington.
After ten bright but unproductive minutes on Saturday, Derby’s performance was awful - and they could have easily gone behind a time or two in the early stages themselves.
It was a surprise that it took the Saints nearly an hour to press home their superiority, though Roy Carroll had single-handedly prevented a total rout by that time already, with a string of fine saves. Only Roy, Martin Albrechtsen, Kris Commons, Paul Green (and Dean Leacock to a degree) came out of the game with any credit and the team is without a spine, bereft of leadership.
There’s little cohesion evident and positive signs are few and far between. Commons buzzed around again and popped up with the occasional pot shot and Tito Villa had a close-range header scrambled away near the interval. Derby’s display deteriorated and they were booed off again at the end; fans are growing increasingly restless.
RamsWeek is a news bulletin but it’s also (for what it’s worth) my opinion column so I’m now going to pass judgement on what I’ve seen from Derby so far this season. Remember - fans are welcome to send in their own articles to RamZone with the ‘submit a story’ facility. It’s all about debate and opinion!
Derby lacked purpose, determination and aggression - they were again outclassed at home, in a league lower than the humiliating run-around that we witnessed last season. Still haunted by such a long run without a League victory, there is no doubt that (like last season) teams love to play against us because we remain slow, generous and disjointed. The Saints’ young and inexperienced team took Derby apart.
Why do we just have to witness other teams carve us open time and again, or watch other footy on TV where normal basic player skills are apparent, defending is organised, where they pass and move, show tenacity, where final balls are effective and the finishing is accurate and decisive?
Jewell’s failure to pair Ellington with Tito Villa was bemusing; we had no cutting edge and the service to Tito was dreadful. Hulse was ponderous and out of sorts against the Saints; he obstructed any impetus.
Playing just Green and Savage in the middle is unsuccessful; Kaz should ultimately have the presence and physique to make an impact in the Championship. Kaz, Paul Green and a mobile, combative midfielder (that doesn’t mean Savage) are needed to stop the Rams being overrun in the middle of the park.
Team selection and tactics are being called into question already. Claude Davis is either (perpetually) unfit or just an atrocious footballer. If we do not have better full backs than have been on display so far - who possess the ability and discipline to carry out their primary duty to defend for 90 minutes with professionalism and discipline - then Jewell has wasted money and cannot spot the blindingly obvious deficiencies that Derby exhibit week after week. Poor teamwork has dumped us in the bottom 5 already.
Am I expecting too much? The basics are not evident in our play and the lack of progress is sapping Derby’s fragile confidence. Conceding goals is inevitable because the fullbacks are inadequate, the midfield is being swamped because it is leaderless and ponderous, the forwards don’t have a League goal between them in three outings and a threatening strike partnership has yet to emerge.
Robbie Savage is inept, ineffectual, uninspiring. If this is the best he can do, he is a luxury we cannot afford. With the loss of Stubbs, the Welshman’s contribution becomes even more critical. So far, he is not worth his place in the team, let alone be granted the captain’s armband.
With Stubbs sadly departed, a good captain’s contribution has been cruelly cut short. He must be greatly saddened that he cannot now help Paul Jewell to rebuild the squad’s purpose and confidence. The manager has lost one of the axioms upon which he wanted to build - and with Savage under-performing, only Roy Carroll of Jewell’s foundations can be said to be delivering up to expectations.
Jewell’s persistence with ordinary players - some of whom he purchased - is undermining his progress in renewing the mentality at Derby County. Southampton also brought in many new players, and underwent recent board upheavals and managerial changes. They had a poor start but performed well in games they lost in August. At Derby, they were slick and incisive, swift and purposeful with the ball, organised when chasing the ball with the Rams reduced to a forlorn shambles.
The manager made great play in pre-match interviews of accentuating the positive, wiping out negatives and all pulling together to help the Rams to rediscover winning ways That’s all very well, but fans are still looking for a lead from the team, i.e. a 90 minute performance, with some indications that departments of the team are gelling with new heroes emerging.
Patience is the repeated watchword but fans’ growing intolerance at such extended failure is understandable. The hangover from 2007-08 is turning into a severe headache and it’s up to the players to demonstrate that there’s a new, positive face to the club. The staff must instil organisation, pace and purpose on the field. We expected better than this and it was certainly no ‘beach party’ on Saturday.
I’m beginning to worry that Mr Jewell is unable to make Derby players perform up to their capabilities, even the fresh arrivals that should be untainted by the debacle of 2007-08. Why are heads dropping so readily when things go against us, why is there no spark, no fizz, no enthusiasm, no pride? It seems that any team, at any level, can take us to task.
Paul Jewell ducked the post-match Radio Derby interview and sent assistant Chris Hutchings out to face the microphone. "We have got good players at this club but they've let themselves down”, he said; “…they've let their team-mates down and they let the fans down. We were second to everything, we were a yard slower and our passing was off.” Righto Chris: just get down to fixing it pretty quickly, please.
Results next week against Preston in the League Cup and Barnsley in the League (both away) can change the mood to offer encouragement that the corner might be turned. Defeats would see storm clouds gathering, multiplying the pressure on Derby at their next home game with what is expected to be a tough encounter with Sheffield United. If Derby players fear playing at a venue like Pride Park Stadium in front of 30,000, then there are 20 other teams that would willingly swap places and turn it into their fortress.
A year ago, Derby County’s baptism of fire in the Premier League continued and they were still ‘searching for heroes’ to get a foothold following promotion.
Billy Davies was finding it difficult to further add to his troops with Derby unable to attract quality players or fund the squad extravagantly. He signed American winger Eddie Lewis on a two-year deal, who made his debut against Birmingham City at home that weekend.
The Rams conceded a goal within 33 seconds, equalised via Matt Oakley after the break only for Cameron Jerome to score the winner. Brum won comfortably enough in the end and as with virtually everyone ever since, looked fitter, stronger and better than Derby all over the park.
You need to login in order to post your comments