|Derby Down Under - A Clough Decision!|
Sat 03rd Jan 2009 06:26 by Daniel J Sewart
It has always been more fairytale than fact but media reports indicate the appointment of Nigel Clough as next manager of Derby County is becoming a genuine possibility.
For years the press have always thrown up his name more because it is a good story rather than anything that is actually based in fact.
That coupled with the fact that for years young Nigel has stated openly at this stage of his life he was not interested in coming to either the Rams or Forrest.
His family name ensures he will always be linked with any such vacancy but his obvious contentment at Burton Albion was reflected in frequent statements when this type of speculation reared its head. His current position allowed him to manage as well as spend quality time with his young family, something a job at a higher level would severely disrupt.
Although he had made this clear he never ruled out the possibility that one day he may be tempted. Perhaps that time is coming faster than most of us thought.
I promised one of the RamZone team that in preparing an article on the front runners for the position I would pretty much leave Clough out of it as it was as unlikely as it always had been.
A week later three things have made it impossible for me to do so and infact led me to devote the main focus to the possibility of what many consider a dream becoming a reality.
The first factor were reports on Tuesday which quoted Clough himself saying “I'd rather talk about the achievements of my players than any other club. We're just getting on and doing our job as always and if anything needs talking about it's the lads here."
Although it says nothing of him possibly considering the job, it is much different than his dismissals of the past. Clough did not rule out leaving Burton or that he would not take the job if offered, which he has always been quick to do in the past and has never been shy in doing so. So why not do the same now?
The second was the statement from Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson. While speaking to Radio Derby he stated, "If he's asked to go to Derby or anywhere else and he wants to take it then he'll go with my blessing and my best wishes. Whenever a big job arises... because of the past association with the Clough family there’s going to be speculation".
"Nigel Clough has been a fantastic manager at our club - the most successful manager in the club's history. He's given us 10 loyal years, tremendous success and taken us onto another planet."
This statement neither confirms or points to anything other than if Nigel did decide to move on then it would be with the blessing of a club that at the start of 2009 he has lead to be 13 points clear at the top of the Blue Square Premier league and was named the leagues manager of the month for December. This was not the statement of a man who had been told categorically by his manager that he was definitely going nowhere.
The third and final thing was the comments made Derby Chairman Adam Pearson. Earlier in the week he described Clough as “'an impressive young man” and went on to say “You have to look at all the alternatives. The job Nigel's done at Burton is outstanding. Nigel's a fine man in his own right, we are looking for a number of attributes, someone who has hunger and desire but experience, someone who is a young vibrant manager who understands the size of the club”.
Three quotes from the main players in the situation and yet not one of them even went close to denying that the move may be on the cards. The word “young” is probably the most significant as its true definition would rule out many of the candidates under discussion by fans and media alike. It may mean absolutely nothing but in Football the less that is said, the more likely something becomes.
It seems the bookmakers agree as on Friday after this latest speculation, Clough was installed as the clear favorite for the position. After spending the week examining various betting sites I have compiled the following which is a representation of where things are placed in terms of gambling odds and my opinion on each of them.
6/4 Nigel Clough: A big job will tempt him one day and with the success he has achieved at Burton and led them well on the way to promotion, maybe it is time to take the step. Many will say ‘no!’ The question will and always has been will taking over a club so close to his family be far too daunting especially as his first major managerial position. One thing is for sure that the majority of fans would have more patience with the son of Brian than any manager that has gone before.
3/1 Chris Hutchings: Twice succeeded Jewell at both Wigan and Bradford. Twice he did not keep the job after unspectacular results. From reaction to the possibility it seems it would be an unpopular appointment with fans and seen as the club lacking in short term ambition.
3/1 Paul Ince: After recently being sacked by Blackburn he is still considered the bright light in the crop of young managers in England. Though he failed at first attempt in the Premier League, some would say he should have been given more time. He was very good in the lower leagues but sometimes jumping straight back into something after a crippling failure is not best for everyone involved.
9/2 Aidy Boothroyd: Desperate to get back into management and definitely has the know how to navigate a successful path in the Championship. Like Billy Davies though his ability to rise to the challenge and compete at Premiership level must be questioned and with Derby needing to look long term, this may be a concern.
6/1: Billy Davies: Billy was here when I started compiling this article. Thank the great Ram in the sky that he is no longer up for consideration. Never genuinely a chance and proof the bookies know as little as the rest of us.
8/1 Alan Curbishley: Definite ability and pedigree. Would be a statement of intent from the club but has stated openly he would prefer a Premiership position. If came to the club in that frame of mind it would be a mistake.
10/1 David O’ Leary: His association with the Rams chairman during their time at Leeds was always going to see his name tossed up. Has an eye for talented players but usually at a price. His time may have passed.
12/1 Steve McLaren: Somewhat of a homecoming would be popular with some fans but most would be wary after some uninspiring management for England. Has the ability but like Jewell could be damaged goods.
12/1 Peter Taylor: Again a good pedigree and also past links with the chairman make him an obvious candidate but perhaps his boat has sailed one too many times.
12/1 Darren Ferguson: Currently at Peterborough who sits at the top of League One after gaining promotion last season.
12/1 Gary Johnson: Beaten by Hull in last years play off final as manager of Bristol City. Has the credentials and a reputation for being a great man manager and having a great sense of humour which may be helpful at Derby.
14/1 Roy Keane: Won the league only in style with Sunderland but as usual his mouth dropped him in hot water early this season. Definitely has the ability but the fear of bringing more un-needed controversy to Pride Park must be a negative factor in his consideration.
14/1 Iain Dowie: After so much recent turmoil in his career would be a risk if looking for stability.
14/1 Gary McAllister: After parting company with Leeds he would be an unspectacular appointment who having had time to prove himself at two sizeable clubs failed to do so.
14/1 Alan Pardew: After spells in charge of Reading, West Ham and Charlton and only having a win / loss average of just over 42% in 463 games, would be an underwhelming appointment.
16/1 Graeme Souness: Definitely tempting having had success at the highest level although later failures and reports of bad man management skills must be of concern. Would be popular but if did not have immediate effect could find himself with another Newcastle situation on his hands.
16/1 John Gregory: Ridiculous! (though I suppose the club is in credit for a couple of years!? :0)
Other names mentioned:
There are other names and plenty of factors to consider but I hope I have covered the major players seemingly being lined up for the job.
Like everyone I don’t know whether Clough should get the job or if he is the best available candidate. One thing I am sure of is he thinks he is ready then very few of us would know better. Over 500 appearances as a footballer, 14 caps for England and being brought up by the greatest brain in English football, should hopefully mean he knows when it is time.
If i had to choose it's between Ince and Clough. At first i went for the hardness of Keane but have mellowed on that as I think the club needs to go with a manager ready to come into the best years of their career and be known for getting the job done not just what comes out of his mouth.
Ferguson is my outside chance and would be willing to give him a chance for the same reason that I would Clough. A manager with huge potential.
We will probably know more by the end of the week after the Rams have traversed two cup games, one that means more to the club than any game since the play off final.
Whoever gets the nod, hopefully they will still have something to fight for in the return leg. If a certain young Ferguson found himself at the helm, Derby County would suddenly be world wide news for all the right reasons again.
If he is not, just beating the red devils would be more than enough.
C’Mon Ewe Rams!!
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Daniel J Sewart