|Derby Down Under - Cheer up & cheer on|
Wed 15th Aug 2007 19:24 by Daniel J Sewart
When the final whistle blew at Wembley, dreams became a reality for Derby County fans all around the world.
On Saturday whether the team were ready or not, the Rams went into battle as underdogs with a group of players who showed us all they were good enough and in turn so must we.
There is no doubt Derby County needs to add depth and strengthen its squad by the time the window closes and with the news that Mika Vayrynen & Benny Feilhaber have signed and more are on the way, it is happening sooner than later. In the time between new signings being completed and the players taking the field for the Rams, the one thing none of us as fans should do is resign ourselves to believing that it should excuse poor performances or lack of intensity.
For a start let's take a look at the current squad. Of them at least 12 have Premiership experience and of those players Jones, Leacock, McEveley, Mears & Bywater are all young and growing into their bodies and abilities. There was no doubt Billy had them earmarked to develop with the Rams' push for promotion which was thrust upon them at least a season earlier than anyone expected.
No one could say that they are not capable of stepping up to the challenge, that is set out before them. Their original Premiership clubs already identified many of them as potential stars and that talent never disappears it just sometimes takes a detour. Billy Davies is acclaimed as a master motivator and with him at the helm he may help them deliver at the highest level. The Portsmouth game showed clearly that many do not look out of place, Craig Fagan for example, showed what he is capable of and perhaps what winning promotion and a full pre-season under Davies can do for a player's confidence.
You only need to look as far as David Jones for another who may grow into his potential. Alex Ferguson saw him as a star of the future and I think he knows a thing or two about such things. The most talked of our young stars is Giles Barnes but will not be terrorizing defences until September, something I think he has the ability to do in a league that relies more on skill than strength.
If Billy can draw on the players' pride and the fact that this is their chance to show they deserve their place in the squad then you can guarantee some will take it. They will know re-enforcements are arriving and their opportunity to become Premiership regulars could be lost in one poor display. Others like Howard and Oakley have something to prove to themselves if not more than the others, a chance to show that they deserve a chance at this stage of their careers. Others like Andy Todd showed in his first game that he is willing to throw himself at the opportunity as well as any crosses that come his way!
Fitness has been something Davies has harped on ever since he arrived. Many players in our squad with long history of injury seem to be available more often than not since joining the Rams and that has to be attributed to the regime Billy has in place. This fitness will be a telling factor in a Premiership campaign. Many players have their first full pre-season in years under their belts and with only a short break, Derby may hit the ground running harder and faster than many will expect.
There are players in Premiership teams who will have convinced themselves they deserve to be there and in turn regard Derby as nothing more than a patchwork quilt, if for no other reason that every pundit has been saying it since they secured promotion. Instead of being a negative it is another factor that could work for them and help the Rams fly under the radar as they did in the Championship for much of last season...
The games against Manchester City and Tottenham will go a long way to establishing confidence and belief amongst the squad. An injection of fresh blood is imminent but two more good performances would give competition for places and a genuine strength to the team that will be hard to erase once achieved. The men who pull on the new Adidas strip must take the bull by the horns as they did on the opening weekend and make everyone watching sit up and take notice. Show them Derby isn't there to make up the numbers; you are there to play football, not just any football…you're there to play Premiership Football!!
C'mon Ewe Rams!!
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Daniel J Sewart