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Morley's Match Musings: A Dysfuntional Performance With No Direction
Friday, 15th Jan 2016 06:55 by Nathan Morley

“Awful, awful” is how manager Paul Clement described Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Reading.

Derby lacked their usual zeal throughout the game, even an early goal scored by Jason Shackell didn’t get the Rams going. The visitors meanwhile were quick, hardworking and a constant threat.

Reading are clearly a better side than their league position suggests, their defence however didn’t seem as convincing, so it’s a shame the Rams couldn’t get on the ball and test them out a bit more.

4-2-3-1 was the shape for the night and I was surprised it wasn’t adjusted in the second-half. The formation didn’t work for any of the players, particularly Butterfield and Johnson as two deeper midfielders, an area where the Royals could dominate.

Was it just an off night? It’s two points from nine now which is disappointing. That record means doubts linger about the team coping with the pressures of life at the top of the Championship.

Martin is one of the targets for blame being out of form and out of goals for a while now. The service wasn’t there against Reading but when he was on or near the ball I didn’t feel like he displayed his usual touch or awareness. I don’t think the 4-2-3-1 suits him as he isn’t the focal point as much with Ince more central and having more freedom.

The whole performance seemed dysfunctional, there was no direction. The defence largely held firm to stop Reading. On another occasion it would have been an away win without doubt.

If any credit can be handed out, it must go to Grant for a couple of good saves plus Warnock and Keogh put in a shift with some warrior work at the back.

Now onto Saturday. What next? Change the formation and players again?

I think it is very easy and tempting to do that with the huge squad and quality all over the pitch but another option is giving the players a chance to put it right against Birmingham on Saturday. Fans are looking for a reaction and the players have to prove it wasn’t a one-off.

Clement’s honest comments were good to hear, he certainly would have had difficulty spinning any positives from the match other than not losing. It was interesting that he didn’t put much blame on the formation, saying it was the players that didn’t follow the plan.

Hopefully they follow Clement's plan when Birmingham come to town and we see a swift return to form.

Up the Rams!

For more of Nathan's articles you can read his blog at www.derbycountyfan.com and follow him via @ramscorner on Twitter.

Photo: Action Images

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