|Derby Down Under: Time of Rams Reckoning!|
Fri 18th Dec 2009 17:26 by Daniel J Sewart
Every year at this time, the same tried and true clichés are rolled out concerning games coming thick and fast with vital points on the line that determine the fate of your clubs season. Well this year for Derby, it ain’t no cliché!
The Rams have finally found some much needed confidence with a fighting spirit that, although not lacking for the first part of the season, faded in and out during matches and cost the Rams points which they either deserved or should have hung onto.
In the last six matches, Derby has grabbed eleven of a possible eighteen points, a more than encouraging result considering the stuttering performances that preceded them. The mission now is to build on that improvement and consolidate their position for a tilt at the top half in 2010.
The return of key players to the squad such as Green, Pearson and Porter have been a major contributor to the form reversal but the form of McEveley, Dickov, Savage, Bywater and Connolly has played a major part. With all the talk of the need for injured players to return, it is ironic that players getting a second (third & fourth) chance because of them are as big a part of it as anyone.
The other person who should be given credit for the reversal of fortune is the manager himself. Although under ridiculous pressure from some parts of fandom he has begun to steer the good ship Derby through troubled waters and chart course for calmer seas.
It was always going to be tough to get points early in the campaign with an injury list longer than the build up to Christmas. Perhaps when people assess this season with the emotion removed they will conclude Nigel did well to manage the points he did with good home form intact throughout what would be a difficult time for any manager of any team.
Most managers complain when one or two of their first team players are injured and point to that when things go awry. Nigel had double figures in his medical rooms, could barely field a team and still the lynching mob felt this was not a good enough reason to be struggling.
Apparently different tactics and a few different substitutions would have had the bare bones squad delivering more success. Maybe a few points here and there but who knows…. maybe it would have delivered less but if they had I doubt many fans would have got the sack for it.
Those who were most vocal should try cutting off 50% of their limbs some time and see how easy it is to go about their daily business because that was pretty much what Nigel was doing.
I myself had my reservations at times but there is little point in having a manager if you are constantly going to slam everytime he attempts to do his job his way. Is that not why he was hired?
No matter how bad things got the Rams barely slipped into the relegation zone and they had a much better reason than the teams that actually fell into it. This in itself should be seen as an achievement rather than failure.
I doubt that the moaners will bestow any praise on the number one for this and the form since but if nothing else I hope they are secretly ashamed of the ridiculous knee jerk reactions that flowed readily over the course of poor results.
Many fans displayed everything that is wrong with modern football, its lack of patience and the online hysteria that builds from the safety of their homes. Most would never have the spine to vent their venomous thoughts in public or in a forum for sensible debate.
Although Derby has not fully navigated its way out of trouble, there is a sense of optimism that over the next two weeks the club could build a platform on which to climb. A couple of wins would see the Rams within reach of the top six and surely encourage the board to throw some loose change to Nigel for reinforcements.
The Doncaster and Blackpool games are the two most winnable of the next three games plus with the team having broken their away hoo-doo they can also head to Toon town with no fear. Six points must be the objective from the trio of games with five the minimum for the period to be considered a success.
On top of the League, the F.A cup fixture which finds the Rams in Millwall is important one in terms of regaining some self respect and continuing the good work of the last month. The ghosts of the League Cup need to be put to rest and even just progressing to the next round will give Derby fans a sense of things being on the right track.
Even if Derby wins all their festive games I do not expect Derby to be promoted this season nor do I expect things to magically turn around as the playing ranks repair and recover.
What I do expect, is by the time April rolls around, that confidence in Nigel and the board to have settled amongst supporters, plus a foundation will have been built on the field that will act a launching pad for a genuine top six tilt next campaign.
Mind you, if somehow Derby did manage to scrape into the play-offs and set up a fixture against the trees, I won’t be complaining. But you can bet Billy D will be.
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Daniel J Sewart