|Tickle Tackle - The Road to Damascus|
Wed 11th Feb 2009 00:13 by Steve Tickle
When it was announced Nigel Clough was to become the next Rams manager I had just a few reservations - I said as much in this column. The last month has quelled any fears I may have had though.
It's a big step up from the Conference to the Championship and I was ever so slightly concerned Nigel Clough wouldn't make it. Not through lack of ability but as much as anything else, because Derby County had been doing an excellent impression of a train wreck for the previous eighteen months.
What I did find comforting was that I was sure that one of the skills Nigel had honed at Burton was to be able to present his ideas in a simple, clear form for the benefit of less gifted players and it seemed to me that that was one of the skills he was going to need at Pride Park.
That's not to say that the Rams' squad were lacking in ability (although their performances of the preceding months gave every indication that they were) but as it turned out, Nigel's ability to present the game simply, a talent he's obviously inherited from his father, is giving every indication that that's exactly what was needed.
Players who were written off (Savage, Todd) or who have carved a career out of being inconsistent (Teale, Commons) are suddenly hitting the straps. Suddenly everyone's enjoying their football again, from the boardroom to the terraces (well, if there were any that is). Everyone, whether a footballer or filing clerk, needs to know what's expected of them. Everyone needs to know that if they screw up, sure they'll get a rollicking but they won't be ostracised. Everyone needs to know that if they do make a mistake, it's how they try to rectify it that they'll be judged on, not that they made it in the first place.
Slowly but surely, the Rams are coming out of their shells (if you'll excuse the metaphor). People are beginning to try things that they weren't confident of doing just a few weeks ago and whaddayaknow, we're beginning to look like a proper football team again.
Our players had decent careers before they came to Pride Park, that move didn't suddenly make them become bad players. The change round though, is all down to Nigel Clough, his backroom staff, their training methods and above, fundamental principles.
We have a long way to go and one day, we'll cop a good pasting from someone - every team does from time to time. It may be next Sunday when Manchester United come to town again. As Nigel Clough pointed out after Saturday's win at Plymouth, when they're in the mood, they can destroy any team, whether it be Real Madrid or the Rams.
It won't really matter though if Man U do despatch us without breaking sweat (and personally I don't think they will). Confidence is flooding back at Pride Park and everyone will be up for it, as they should be. It's a game we can go into with no fear and give 'em both barrels.
I can't wait.
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