|RamsWeek 20 - The Juggler|
Thu 03rd Jun 2010 14:43 by Paul Mortimer
Transfer market activity gained pace at Pride Park Stadium with the announcement of further imminent departures from the squad, one signing completed and contracts with several other newcomers under negotiation.
Manager Nigel Clough made an early start to his squad redevelopment, securing the services of Russell Anderson, releasing four junior professionals alongside Jay McEveley and Gary Teale.
The manager has the role of a juggler, which he’ll relish having now had more than a full season to assess the players he inherited. He has given all of those that he felt still had something to offer Derby County a chance to impress him over the last year and a half.
He has now wisely freed up more wage expenditure, telling two vastly under-utilised and very costly players - goalkeeper Lewis Price and forward Lee Hendrie - that they will not be offered new contracts this summer.
Welsh international Lewis joined the club at the wrong time for the wrong reasons - and Hendrie was utterly marginal and superfluous. Good luck to him at Brighton & Hove Albion, we are well rid!
Clough has now already released eight players and the latest departures will give him breathing space in the projected wage budgeting for 2010-11 because of the deals that those departing senior players formerly enjoyed at Derby County.
Now, it’s about the real world regarding rewards to players - and the management want performances that give club and fans value for money. Football players have to have a dose of reality, as well as the rest of us! Most of us would say that’s not before time...
This week, he completed the signing of Doncaster Rovers defender Gareth Roberts to replace McEveley. Welsh international Roberts is the type of steady and consistent performer that Clough needs and chose Derby rather than sign a new deal at the Keepmoat Stadium. He’s a free agent and won’t cost Derby a fee.
It’s a new challenge late in his career. We had the familiar sound-bites from club and player about how fabulous Derby’s training facilities are and how it will be wonderful to play in front of 30,000 at Pride Park Stadium. Good luck to Gareth, we certainly need reliable, disciplined and strong defenders like him who will do their talking on the pitch...to their teammates, verbally and with their feet, if you get my drift!
The manager could clinch four more deals very soon, as he has offered a rumoured £800k for the Crewe Alexandra pair, John Brayford and James Bailey. Brayford (22) is a defender, Crewe’s PoTY last season too - whom Clough wanted a year ago.
If money was the problem then, I’m glad the DCFC board have now seen sense after the torment we took in defence last year! Bailey is 21 and hopefully has a bright future with Derby. He’s a busy midfielder, who apparently might step into Robbie Savage’s shoes.
Let’s hope that Bailey’s boots move faster and with more skill than the mouthy and pedestrian Welshman - and that Bailey’s boots do all the talking.
Add to that the expectation that Polish forward Tomasz Cywka will join as anticipated from Wigan Athletic, which will boost the forward line and provide a substitute (or successor) for the seldom-fit Kris Commons.
Derby will also sign up the ADO Den Haag captain Danny Buijs (27) - who plays right-back or midfield - is poised to join the Rams too. A fee will be involved as Danny’s contract has a year to run.
With a ‘signature’ signing of a proven striker - Billy Sharp or Gary Hooper in all likelihood - Clough’s strengthening in all departments will be well under way, if all those negotiations can be concluded in the near future.
We need a fully fit Paul Green and perhaps a Stephen Pearson who will look up and think ahead occasionally when reaching the penalty area...hopefully with the inclusion of Michael Tonge, Derby’s midfield may prove more competitive next season.
The manager’s aim is to have most of the changes completed before the start of July. With the majority of the newcomers ready to be integrated during pre-season training and long-term injury cases Kris Commons, Steve Davies and Dean Leacock aiming to work through the summer to get back to fitness, it’s hoped that there will be a real lift-off in August with the squad firing on all cylinders.
The domestic season has reached its climax with all but the divisional play-offs to unfold. We had the drama of the Championship play-offs to watch from our lowly league position, and reet good entertainment it was, too!
Leicester City were unlucky to be edged out by an efficient Cardiff City side but the real pleasure was watching Blackpool dismantle the Tricky Trees at the City Ground in the 2nd leg! It was a great performance from the Seasiders and the Trees had no answer.
A second-half purple patch saw our Special Agent Campbell (ex-Rams loanee, DJ) slam in a rapid hat-trick to scupper F*rest well and truly, to leave Wee Billy blubbing about the lack of courage and maturity of his players (whilst saying that they are beyond criticism!) and soon enough, he was busy casting the usual doubts as to whether he wants to stick around at the Nothingham flea-pit for next season!
I’m not sure that either of our East Midlands’ rival sides will be as strong next season, but I hope of course that the Rams are much more in contention - it’s better to cheer your own team than have only to jeer your rivals’ failures for consolation.
How predictable it all is from Davies...Doughty and Pleat, having already backed the scabrous Scot to a greater extent than most Championship clubs have afforded, must always be biting their lips and treading on hot coals, just like the Rams’ board were once Billy had the upper hand. Expect another ‘glorious’ departure for Davies soon - with another Championship play-off notched up on his CV...
It was fairly predictable at Wembley Stadium last Saturday too, with the ruthless Chelsea outfit completing the ‘double’ of Premier League and FA Cup by defeating a brave Portsmouth side. Chelsea dominated but won only 1-0, after Pompey had fatefully blown their chance to shock the super-rich Londoners when Kevin-Prince Boateng pushed a precious penalty kick straight at Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal.
Chelsea, who had peppered the Pompey woodwork but failed to score for an hour of the game, also missed a penalty before the deadly Didier Drogba arrowed a precise free kick past the flailing David James between the Pompey posts.
Pompey, in administration and relegated from the Premier League in a traumatic season for their fans, now have to regroup and bid to put some financial stability into Fratton Park in what is sure to be a summer of massive change.
Championship Rivals Preston north End, like Derby County a founder member of the Football League back in 1888, also face an uncertain future after a winding-up petition was served on the Deepdale club. It's a far cry from their former glories.
As soon as we had enjoyed the reflected glow of football icon David Beckham presenting FIFA with England’s thumping great World Cup 2018 ‘bid book’ document, a thumping great scandal broke out as the head of the bid team, FA Chairman Lord Triesman resigned after a so-called ‘entrapment’ scam in the Sunday press.
A conversation that Triesman had with an aide implying some possible refereeing bribery strategy between Spain and Russia was recorded and passed to the press - the scurrilous hacks did the rest. Quite how the saga will damage England’s World Cup bid remains to be seen and we will have to wait until the end of this year to learn the fate of our bid.
Triesman seemed to have had an attack of the ‘Gordon Browns’. The Labour leader of course fatefully damaged his party’s election chances with his not-so-private ‘bigoted woman’ comment. Quite why public figures allow themselves to be caught out by these stupid indiscretions we will perhaps never know!
It’s highly predictable how the English football authorities regularly shoot themselves in the foot in such ways. Mix that up with the well-publicised player infidelity scandals and it’s no wonder we haven’t won the trophy for so long.
Some stability and leadership is sorely needed at the helm of our game and soon, as it’s only a short while since Chief Executive Ian Watmore walked away from his job, through lack of belief in the strategy the organisation was following and the slow rate of change in the structure and procedures within the FA.
RamsWeek 20 last year saw Nigel Clough preparing to prune the Rams squad as his first summer in charge at Pride Park Stadium as the manager’s prudent drive towards a leaner, less costly squad moved ahead.
The £40m spending spree conducted by previous managers and regimes wouldn’t be repeated, he said, “Because it hasn’t worked”. Clough was looking at rising stars like Jake Buxton and Ben Pringle, and lining up winger Lee Croft from relegated Norwich City to reinforce defence, midfield and attack.
Players commanding more substantial fees would include Sean Barker from Blackpool and Exeter’s Dean Moxey. Finding players that wanted the shirt and would strive to play well for Derby, and not just secure a fat contract, was what Clough was seeking.
Expensive flops like Earnshaw, Albrechtsen, Davis and assorted others were mistakes not to be repeated. A year later, the sort-out continues!
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