Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Match preview: Cherry Chimes chats to Derby Co Blog

Match Preview
Derby County v AFCB
Blogger Interview - Derby County Blog

Cherry Chimes talks to Ollie Wright the author of Derby County Blog ahead of the clash at the iPro stadium on Saturday with the Cherries. Now that the Rams have closed up to third place in the table their players can see an automatic promotion place tantalisingly just in front of them, but is it Derby's season to make it up to the Premiership?

CC: Can Derby go onto to get a top two finish having seen how you played against QPR?

DCB: Possibly. We don't have the deepest squad in the division, so we need to avoid injuries to key players, but when you look at the amount of points we have picked up under Steve McClaren, you realise that we have been running at automatic promotion form over the past 20 matches.

CC: Have you already started to look at how many points you might need to get an automatic promotion place and are you worried about any fixtures to come in particular?

DCB: A friend of mine worked out that the average number of points required for automatic promotion over the past 20 seasons has been 86. Predictions are a mug's game, obviously, but every way I've looked at it, we do look to be on course to get over 80 points.

The away game at Burnley and the home game against Forest are probably the ones that stand out to the neutral, but I strongly believe that they won't decide our fate. I just hope that the lads can keep going and don't run out of steam in the final straight.

We've only lost twice in our last 17 league games - if we only lose two of the next 15, we will go very, very close.

CC: Are you surprised that there has not been too much gossip about Chris Martin who keeps sticking the goals away for you?

DCB: Chris goes under the radar while other strikers take the headlines. At the time of writing, he has scored the same amount of league goals as Charlie Austin - 14. He's extremely important to the team, not just with his goals, but with the way he leads the line and links in with the midfielders. He is a good technician as well as a powerful presence and is one of our key players.

CC: The defeat against Leicester in January did not knock the teams confidence you must have been pleased with that kind of response?

DCB: I said at the time that as chastening as that result was, it couldn't be allowed to define our season. The next game was a tough test - Brighton at home - but we won 1-0 and haven't lost since. That says a lot for the confidence and belief the players have, especially when you consider that we recovered from 2-0 down to beat Yeovil, scored a late equaliser at Blackburn and also beat one of our direct rivals, QPR, 1-0.

The only disappointment was letting a 3-1 lead against Birmingham slip away, which has to be put down to youthful over-exuberance - they got caught out trying to bomb on and score another one when they didn't need to. However, beating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Hillsborough on Tuesday night was more evidence that we are capable of going the distance.

CC: What have you made of Lee Grant's form this season?

DCB: He's a fine shot-stopper with excellent reflexes and also makes some important punches.

CC: How good a prospect do you think is your loan striker from Chelsea - Patrick Bamford - has he been playing well?

DCB: Bamford is a flair player who doesn't give you much until the moment when suddenly, out of nothing, he scores. He's not the quickest and has a languid air, but technically, he is very good and has an incredible eye for goal. Five goals in four starts and three sub appearances tells its own story - three of them have been lovely strikes from outside the box. He's been an inspired loan signing and I'm sure McClaren will be desperate to keep him, if at all possible.

CC: You have had some high scoring games at home of late so are Derby risking playing a more open game under McClaren?

DCB: In a word, yes. Nigel Clough's mantra was always 'don't lose', whereas McClaren's style is about winning first. I guess the way he sees it is that one win and one defeat gets you more points than two draws.

Defensively, we're far from being the best in the division, as was ruthlessly exposed by Leicester City not so long ago, but we're the divisions top goalscorers.

CC: Are there any Bournemouth players you are looking forward to seeing play?

DCB: I'll be interested to see Lewis Grabban, who should keep our defenders on their toes.

CC: What is the atmosphere like in the iPro stadium and are their places to eat and drink nearby?

DCB: It's at the heart of the Pride Park business park, so there are all sorts of watering holes and eateries in the vicinity, plus burger vans for the unwary, of course. If you walk back down towards the railway station, you'll find some fine real ale pubs, especially The Brunswick.

Thanks for the answers Ollie. I think the Championship may well go to Leicester but Derby have as good a chance as any of getting an automatic spot and I was one of those in agreement with Eddie Howe that Derby were the best team I have seen at the Goldsands this season. AFCB have been credited with being a good passing side, but Derby out passed us that day away from home. So the task for the Cherries is a difficult one this weekend but the team continues to improve and I hope that some Derby fans are surprised by what a good game our players can give Steve McClaren's side on Saturday.

For more great gossip on the Rams and to spy on what they may do against the Cherries, take a look at Ollie's Derby County Blog for a good read.

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