|RamsWeek 13 - Tryin' Times|
Sun 29th Mar 2009 19:53 by Paul Mortimer
After the anti-climax of the Barnsley home game last Saturday, Derby County had the first of two weeks during the international break to prepare for the next Championship game on April 4th.
Several Rams’ players were away on international duty with their countries, however: Nacer Barazite with Holland’s Under-21 squad, Lewin Nyatanga with Wales; Mile Sterjovski is with the Aussies, Gary Teale, Kris Commons and Villa loanee Barry Bannan were in the Scottish squads.
Teale played (badly) in Scotland’s comprehensive defeat by Holland in Amsterdam. Good luck to all the lads involved in the qualifiers this week. Commons had a round trip to report for Scotland and their physios (surprise, surprise!) declared him not fit; he might be available for his country for their clash with Iceland next Wednesday.
Manager Clough hopes his internationals will all return unscathed from their travels and expects to add Chris Porter, Jay McEveley and Jordan Stewart to the fit-again players on call for the home game with Burnley on April 4th.
It was a quiet week for news around the club with the future of fringe players like spare striker Luke Varney, willing runabout Emanuel Villa and fugitive full-back Tyrone Mears being discussed in the local media. It’s still debatable whether any of them will make more footballing headlines for Derby County.
Villa seems superfluous, Varney still wants to make his mark at Derby and Mears might be of value to his loan club Marseille, after the defender finally gained a starting place through injury. Tye now has a few appearances under his belt and the Rams would take the money from any permanent deal to add to Clough’s kitty, enabling the manager to bring in players of his own choice who want to play for the club.
There were media stories of Kris Commons being a wanted man with several clubs, including Wigan Athletic, having their eye on him. They could offer Kris Premier League football and wages, though he’d play in front of half the people he does at Pride Park and he’d be in a rugby town. Kris don’t go! It would be a blow to the Rams if one of the few current star players were to be tempted away.
The main news of the week was another long-term injury casualty, this time it is Steve Davies - another broken foot victim - that frustratingly rules him out for rest of the season. He is to have an operation on his right foot next Friday. He joins Miles Addison and Paul Green, both ruled out until pre-season too with similar injuries.
Coupled with manager Nigel Clough’s lack of success in trawling the loan market for possible defensive cover, these were certainly tryin’ times for the boss. Losing yet another player through injury and not getting a pre-deadline back-up loanee in were the last things he had sought from this international break.
The manager has declared that defenders are his priority for team rebuilding in the close season and he commented that he anticipated that injury absentee Dean Leacock might have a key role to play in 2009-10. Leacock needs to stay fit and be ‘at it’ consistently when selected, for his potential to be realised.
Clough has yet to see his team convince everyone that they can garner enough points to consolidate in the Championship this season and would also have wanted Davies to get a run in the side. He was also keen to recruit another loan defender, with the injuries and mixed form that the current squad are suffering from. Nothing is easy at the moment it seems, and Clough will now have to mix and match what he has to get the Rams safely over the finishing line.
Apparently you can now get an exclusive replica of the wonderful Steve Bloomer stadium bust from DCFC - and I mean exclusive…. they cost £3,500 each! Bloomer bust creator Andy Edwards is making some limited edition pieces. Not brilliant timing really, DCFC, with the season ticket deadline less barely a fortnight away; I’m afraid I’ll be restricting myself to circa 10% of that level of expenditure for my S/T renewal, prior to the ‘early bird’ pricing deadline - and that’s it!
Rams’ Academy graduates Ross Atkins (goalie) and Mark Dudley (defender) have gone out on loan to Blue Square North clubs Southport and Tamworth respectively, which will give the 19-year olds some first-team experience.
The Northampton Crown Court case involving fraud & conspiracy allegations against former Rams’ directors and their associates carried on into its third week. The DET is carrying a regular blow-by-blow report of the various testimonies. Last week, the invisible Steve Harding and hapless ex-operations director Paul Clouting were called to answer questions about the Sleightholme consortium’s takeover, the circumstances and details of the ABC funding and boardroom relationships at the club.
Clough fever broke out this week with the national release of ‘The Damned United’, the film based on novelist David Peace’s colourful interpretation of Brian Clough’s ill-fated 44-day reign at Dirty Leeds. It’s good that Cloughie’s unique and forceful personality is brought back to prominence but the interpretation has angered Clough’s family.
The Central TV Cloughie documentary in midweek was a far more sympathetic and realistic portrayal of the great man and the programme celebrated his achievements with Derby and some other team.
It will seem a long time since the Rams’ last game by next Saturday, when Burnley visit Pride Park Stadium - but hopefully I’ll be able to write about a home win in next week’s Derby diary!
RamsWeek 13 last year was dominated by the Sunday tabloid sex-scandal involving then-manager Paul Jewell. Derby fans used to seeing their club as the butt of football jokes now saw it dragged through the grubby headlines of the tabloid smut-peddlers.
With the team's dreadful performances on field and the manager allegedly having played the field in his recent past, supporters wondered when the club would regain any pride. All concerned at DCFC were in ‘the healing game’ regarding the club’s reputation, which could not get much worse in the public eye.
There were a few media stories afoot regarding Derby players with wanderlust for pastures new, including an ‘Earnshaw to Forest’ loan rumour and Paul Jewell declaring that Stoke’s interest in Stephen Pearson would cost them up to £2.5m. It didn’t, and Brum sent him back too as an injury case.
The Rams faced Fulham at Pride Park Stadium in their latest Premier League encounter and the 2-2 draw was one of the handful of games last season from which Derby fans gained some pleasure and entertainment.
Emanuel Villa, in one of his more decisive appearances, gave Derby an early lead, though Fulham soon equalised and scored what looked like the winner after 78 minutes. Villa popped up again however with a good header to salvage a point. Not enough of course, given Derby’s parlous Premier League predicament, but better than the usual nothing.
After useful performances against Fulham, I mused that Tito Villa, Stubbs, Carroll, Sterjovski and Savage could make telling contributions in 2009-10. Apart from (belatedly) Robbie Savage, I was nowhere near the mark. Sorry ‘bout that, and perhaps the players are too…just don’t hold your breath waiting for accurate predictions from me for 2009-10!
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