|RamsWeek 19 - Money For Nothing |
Sun 10th May 2009 18:21 by Paul Mortimer
With the 2008-09 season flopping to a disappointing conclusion in the defeat at Watford, anticipation turned to Nigel Clough’s close season squad rebuilding activity.
The Bank Holiday period provided welcome relief from the nail-biting tension of another Championship survival struggle. Pride Park Stadium hosted the Women’s FA Cup Final last Monday and as expected, Arsenal maintained their domination of the competition in beating Sunderland 2-1.
Whilst Arsenal looked the more accomplished team and deservedly won the trophy, Sunderland battled bravely and kept going until the end, getting their goal in stoppage time after a fighting second half display.
Arsenal Ladies have now won the FA Cup 10 times; they’d won the League Cup too and have just sealed a domestic treble by taking the FA Tesco Women’s Premier League title after winning 1-0 at title rivals Everton.
The Derby crowd of almost 23,500 didn’t quite nick the attendance record from the City Ground but it was a well-staged and enjoyable afternoon and the club is doing its bit to encourage more interest in the ladies’ game.
Derby County helped ex-Ram Spencer Prior to raise funds for the Little Havens hospice in Essex by playing his hometown club Southend United in a friendly game at Roots Hall on Tuesday, with 800 in attendance. The game ended 2-2, with Spencer appearing for both sides and Rams manager Nigel Clough and coach Gary Crosby appearing as Derby substitutes.
Damien Scannell scored twice for the Blues; Derby had levelled though an own goal before Scannell enabled Southend to regain the lead, then Luke Varney scored the Rams’ second equaliser near the end.
Derby County have added Network Securities UK Limited to their list of ‘Proud Partners’ or in other words, sponsors. Fans will see NSUK Ltd branding around the Stadium next season. I can hardly wait.
Transfer gossip and activity continued unabated; the local media speculated that as many as 17 players could depart from Pride Park Stadium during the summer and looking through the article, I couldn’t disagree with any of it. In fact, as Nigel Clough took over and the Rams (Cups excepted) were at their lowest point of the Championship season, I reckoned up that about 20 current players were of next to no use to Derby County.
It seems I wasn’t far off the mark with those anticipated departures; taking into account a couple of Clough rehabs in Savage and Teale, who have responded well to Nigel’s requirements, then the equivalent of a team and a half of passengers, comfy contract-hoppers and no-hopers will thankfully soon be on their way out of Derby.
Apart from Todd and Simmonds, both already advised that they wouldn’t be offered new contracts; the Rams will not take up the purchase option on season-loan striker Nathan Ellington. Loanee midfielder John Eustace will also depart from the Pride Park Stadium scene.
Bit-part loanee midfielder from Porto Prem Kazmierczak isn’t wanted either - and after sounding off against Rams manager Nigel Clough, will hardly be missed at Pride Park Stadium! Comments attributed to the Pole suggest that Kaz thinks Nigel Clough dislikes foreign players; the manager was surprised and said he didn’t care what origin a player was if he was able to help Derby County win three points.
The lumbering off-the-pace Kaz can join the egoistic ‘rogues gallery’ alongside Tye Mears or the invisible Giles Barnes as a player to be remembered by Rams fans for his disrespectful words or poor attitude as much as a contribution on the field. Kaz showed occasional touches of skill and contributed a few short, solid substitute stints but is not exactly destined for a significant place in Derby’s history.
Aussie club Gold Coast want to take Mile Sterjovski off the Rams, though his agent - knowing which side Mile’s bread is buttered with a year to run on the Derby contract - denied there was any transfer activity.
There might be a nice fat pay-off demand on Mile’s behalf from the same agent should the Rams transfer-list the not-very-good-at-anything Aussie. Sterjovski himself might prefer to be playing regularly in order to figure in Australia’s World Cup campaign than to sit out next season on the fringe at Pride Park Stadium, with only an occasional cameo in the first team or reserves.
Such as Kaz and Mile number among players acquired by Paul Jewell in his supermarket snatch during 2008, of which Rams fans will always scratch their heads over and say: “Why?”
So many players that Forest gimp Billy Davies and man of leisure Jewell collected for Derby County’s abortive Premier League and Championship onslaughts (not to mention the revolving door for the coaching, scouting and Academy complement), make you survey Derby’s recent history with dismay, disappointment and anger. For too long, the club has been a repository for some lazy but wealthy players.
So much money, time and effort have been expended on travel, training, accommodation, transfers, salaries and wages for precious little end product where it matters!
More than one or two characters for me come into the ‘money for nothing’ category, as players who are unlikely to enjoy such fine facilities, status and rewards in future and who won’t be more than footnotes in the history of our club. They may well experience a dose of reality when it comes to finding a new deal to ply their trade.
Having to settle up contracts to clear the decks will certainly make Messrs Clough and Pearson grind their teeth in distaste. Some of the departing players are unlucky, or will just be displaced by the need for a better-balanced, smaller squad and essentially dispensing of various unwanted expensive misfits.
Once the clear out has taken place, DCFC must surely show ambitions of at least emulating such as Stoke City in their approach to promotion and consolidation. The Potters have clearly demonstrated what a club that has been promoted through the play-offs has to do to survive regarding blend, organisation, determination and commitment to the cause. Hopefully, Derby County are moving in a similar direction.
So the players coming in will give better value (we hope!) and already, Clough has expressed an interest in trying to renew loan agreements with Villa’s Barry Bannan and Arsenal’s Nacer Barazite. Martin O’Neill has commented in the Birmingham press that he has high hopes for Bannan and that he has no problem with loaning such players out to ‘sensible clubs’ where their development will be assisted.
Norwich City’s young winger, Lee Croft, out of contract with the Canaries this summer, has had talks with Derby County and it’s also apparent that talks are under way with Burton Albion defender Jake Buxton. There are several other deals under negotiation if media stories are to be believed.
There is reported interest in Kris Commons from both Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United. The money might attract Derby if £4-5m were involved but it would be disappointing for fans to watch Nigel Clough’s plans to build around the Rams’ star players unravel so soon. I can’t see why Wigan would attract Commons (notwithstanding the Prem status and wages) - and The Toon might well be in the same League as Derby next term.
The Rams announced that Stoke City will be the opponents for the Pride Park Stadium curtain-raiser pre-season friendly match on August 1st. Hardly exciting fayre I’d say, but the Potters will give Cloughie’s boys something against which to test their mettle in readiness for the Championship grind.
The benefit of free entrance for season ticket holders might not be enough to swell the crowd in the entertainment stakes! Derby have lined up half a dozen other (July 09) friendlies against lower-league opposition.
It was a similar story in RamsWeek 19 last season, with an exodus of players anticipated and plenty of transfer talk about new arrivals.
The last Premier League game of the 2007-08 season at home to Reading saw Derby host a ‘Fans Day’ with prizes for fancy dress but alarmingly, Reading (cruelly destined for relegation alongside the Rams) thrashed the clowns in the Derby shirts 4-0 to send Rams fans home in tormented disgust at yet another shocking display.
Rams manager Paul Jewell remarked about his players that he was “sick of them”, and so were the rest of us. A few months later, he was sick of everyone; his squad revolution failed to deliver the quality and consistency required to make a success of 2008-09 and he gave up on it all at Derby soon after Christmas.
You need to login in order to post your comments