RamsWeek 48 - Shine On, You Crazy Diamond!
Monday, 3rd Dec 2007 00:59 by Paul Mortimer
Billy Davies’ outspoken radio interview after the Chelsea match questioned his relationship with Derby’s new Executive Chairman.
Also the club’s commitment toward the manager’s aspirations for squad expenditure – and it rapidly led to a parting of the ways.
Adam Pearson met with Billy Davies on Monday morning and soon announced that Billy had left the club. The statement read: "I have met with Billy Davies this morning and we have decided mutually in the best interests of both parties that to go our separate ways is the correct decision at this time.
"Billy Davies leaves Derby County with our best wishes and our genuine gratitude in achieving a magnificent promotion to the Premier League, where everyone connected with the club wanted to be.
"We wish Billy all the best for his future career and both parties will now move forward, which I am sure will lead to future success for Billy Davies and Derby County.
"Derby County will be making no further comment on the matter at this stage."
Whether Davies engineered his exit or Pearson elected to demonstrate his overall authority is open to conjecture though the outcome suited both parties.
Billy’s defiant pride no doubt allows him to believe he has done the best job possible; Pearson now has a free hand to merge his quest for big finance with a radical change in the management and backroom staff at Derby so as to mould the club around his own strategy. He was soon working on his shortlist of three managerial candidates.
Almost all of the backroom staff that Billy surrounded himself with were dismissed summarily, too, including assistant David ‘Ned’ Kelly, for whose services the club fought so long and hard to secure, technical director Craig Brown and most of the coaching and technical entourage.
No less than ten management and backroom personnel left the club on Monday morning. You can find a list of them somewhere on the official site if needed.
It has all amounted to an expensive and stressful severance of £1m - then Academy boss Kevin Thelwell briefly found himself in the same caretaker management position as his predecessor Terry Westley less than two years ago. Then, Westley guided the club to Championship safety after Phil Brown had been dismissed.
Goalkeeping coach Alan Fettis alongside senior players Darren Moore and Matt Oakley were asked initially to assist Thelwell’s preparation for the weekend’s away game at Roy Keane's Sunderland. The search for a new manager was commenced immediately however with Mr Pearson wanting an early appointment.
No doubt with the first team squad in shock, Thelwell immediately had to field a Reserve side to play West Ham’s stiffs on Monday night…. fielding juniors and Academy lads assisted an experienced West Ham side to an 8-0 win to ensure that the Rams’ goal drought and meek generosity at the other end of the pitch continued.
Next day, Mr Pearson said that he’d spoken to the players and wanted to see more emphasis on a belief that they were good enough for the Premier League. He expected results to pick up, reiterated that Derby County were a strong club and that they would fight to retain their status – and that if the club were to be relegated then “they would come straight back up”. He’s not the first Derby County Chairman to say that!
For his part, Billy (for once) was circumspect in his comments on departure, saying he was walking out with his head held high. He thanked the staff and players and ‘the wonderful fans’ though did say it was ironic that he was due to pick up a Coach of the Year at the East Midlands Sports Awards night at Derby Assembly Rooms. Matt Oakley duly accepted the award at the event on behalf of his ex-manager. The Captain gave an emotive yet professional dedication to Davies and represented the club in exemplary fashion. Centre forward Steve Howard picked up the Football Achievement Award
Davies achieved great things in his short time at Derby County and the memory of our remarkably successful 2006/07 season, crowned by the ecstatic Wembley play-off final triumph will stand forever. His aggressive and irascible nature however had the better of him once too often though - and few managers ever win such blatant and needless trials of strength with their Chairman, especially one in such a strong position as Adam Pearson.
Davies was able to walk away from Derby County without the stigma of a relegation attached to his CV and an alleged settlement of £750k – so no one should feel overly distressed on his account. It’s unlikely that he will be out of work long, either, as he was soon installed among the favourites for the Scotland job, vacated by Alex McLeish’s move to the Bluenoses.
I’d prefer to take Billy’s comment that he would be prepared to give Scotland five years’ commitment with a pinch or two from my over-used bag of salt though I admit that a cynic might suggest the wee Scot is also fishing for a secure long-term contract!
The ‘name game’ to nominate the next Rams’ manager soon erupted in the media and on the messageboards, with Paul Ince, Paul Jewell and Geraint Williams expected to be in the frame. There wasn’t time for weeks (or even days) of speculation or the need for an extended shopping list however, as events moved extremely quickly.
Adam Pearson was in immediate talks with Paul Jewell and by Tuesday evening, the bets were off. He was the only candidate interviewed by the Executive Chairman who soon invited Jewell to replace Davies. On Wednesday, a 9.30 am Pride Park Stadium press call saw Jewell installed as the new Rams’ manager.
At the same time that Birmingham City were unveiling Alex McLeish to replace Steve Bruce - with Adam Pearson cheekily quipping at the Ram’s press event - referring to the press corps’ busy morning - “this is the important one!”
Paul Jewell, a similar age to Billy Davies, does have the pedigree to pull the Rams through; he gained promotion to the Premier League with Bradford City and Wigan Athletic – and ensured that both clubs retained their Premier status against all odds. He declared that he was excited by the challenge at Pride Park Stadium and that he would certainly not be waving a white flag - “No surrender”, was his message, as he stressed that the Derby players were good enough to compete at this level.
Rams fans will hope that Jewell proves his mettle once more; he knows he has a big challenge but Derby also have big potential and we all hope he can do it again – shine on, you crazy diamond!
Later in the week, Mr Jewell invited his old stalwart Stan Ternent to assist him at Derby, also recruiting Mark Seagraves, twenty years Stan’s junior. Both men have had previous successful associations with the Rams’ new manager and no doubt the backroom will be further embellished shortly.
In the midst of the managerial drama, on Tuesday 27th November four of the motley crew from further down in the Rams’ past stood accused at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court on charges relating to alleged financial irregularities at Derby County in 2003. Jeremy Keith, Murdo Mackay and Andrew Mackenzie were charged with conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to conceal criminal property. Alongside them, Mark Waters was charged with conspiracy to conceal criminal property and money laundering.
The case was adjourned until February 14th 2008 at Derby Crown Court; the fifth man named in the fraud investigations, Monaco-based David Lowe, had his case heard on Friday 1st December and was accused of similar charges to the first four men named. Lowe’s charges related to irregularities involving over £522,000.
Jewell wanted to put transfer window talk on the back burner as he prepared to take the team to Sunderland, and Executive Chairman was in the same frame of mind. “I am quite bored of talking about how much money we will spend in the transfer window. The manager will be supported by the chairman and the board,” said Mr Pearson. At last people seem to be sharing the same hymn sheet.
An improved performance saw the Rams have an equal share of the game at the Roy Keane Stadium of Light with a fair few reasonable chances, all of which were spurned. The Rams, in a more positive 4-4-2 formation, looked more compact and cohesive but cruelly fell to a 1-0 injury time defeat to leave them deep in their awful run without goals and points. The performance did bring hope for a brighter future, though.
Paul Jewell now has a full week to work with his squad before the Rams travel to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford next Saturday. Few expect the goals and points drought to be ended at that venue!
The Rams drew Sheffield Wednesday in the Third Round FA Cup draw. It’s difficult to get enthusiasm up for Derby County Cup-ties against lower-league opposition in recent years and the abysmal display last August against Blackpool in the League Cup is too fresh in the memory - but at least Wednesday doesn’t begin with a “B”, like that long list of our recent cup conquerors, so we might have a chance!
RamsWeek 48 2006 saw Mr Sand reflecting on a magnificent November. A 100% record, six wins and eighteen points in a single month is something that Paul Jewell would probably sell his family for this year! The Rams beat Ipswich to complete the sequence but ended their great run a few days later with a 0-1 reversal at WBA. We got our own back at Wembley a few months later!
Derby were drawn at home to Wrexham in the FA Cup Third Round last year and there was all to play for with the team surging forwards beyond all expectations.
Photo: Action Images
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