Friday, 21 February 2014

McClaren has Rams buzzing

Steve McClaren has probably not had the best of press in England because of his term as England manager and yet you can't say that his record as a coach is anything other than excellent. He arrived at Derby County in September with them looking no more than a mid-table team and yet he has given them the confidence and tactical ability to be a real force in the Championship.
Jamie Ward warms up with Will Hughes.
I did not think he would do any better than Nigel Clough, but he has proved me and many others wrong. What's more, I like the way his team plays. When they came down to Dean Court they did not play long balls or use physical strength to over turn AFCB. It was a real tactical battle with both teams playing a fluid passing game. Eddie Howe said at the time that they were the best team the Cherries had faced in the Championship, even though some other teams had beaten AFCB far more convincingly. But I know what he means. Derby play a complete kind of football with everyone working for each other. They have one or two special individuals as well like Will Hughes and Jamie Ward who are capable of dominating games. Ward felt his hamstring on Tuesday night and came off at half time so may not play against AFCB on Saturday.

Their lead scorer is Chris Martin the former Norwich striker who has really hit form compared to last season when he was on loan at Swindon and Derby. Derby also brought in a couple of players on loan in January such as George Thorne from West Brom and the Chealsea players Patrick Bamford who was on loan at Milton Keynes. Bamford has been scoring regularly on the wing and got the winning in their last match.

For all Derby's fire power thought they do not always keep clean sheets even at home. Yeovil recently hit two against them even though they lost, while Wigan also got a result against them this year at the iPro stadium. Derby still lead the goals scored column in the Championship on 59 after the mid-week win against Sheffield Wednesday. But that goals against total of 40 indicates that they are not yet the tightest in defence, which offers me some hope that the Cherries might get something if they play well. Derby also had to change formation to 4-2-4 in their last game which gave them more going forward when they were finding it tough going against Wednesday, but it was also leaving them exposed on the break. The sign of a good team though is not playing well and still winning and that's what Derby did last Tuesday night.

Hughes is one of the conductors that sets Derby's tempo.
The push for promotion is really on now. Steve McClaren will have his team raring to go and the crowd of some 23,000 is going to be right behind the Rams. The confidence the team must have got from beating QPR recently at home tells me that they are serious promotion candidates and they rarely slip up at home. While Leicester City and Burnley were difficult games at home for the Cherries, this will be a harder examination of AFCB's resolve and Lee Camp and his back line need to be extremely well organised if they are to keep a clean sheet, but I think that has to be the Cherries main aim and anything else would be a bonus. Those away wins for AFCB against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday seem a long time ago so it would be fabulous to reacquaint the fans with an away win.
I hope Adam Smith along with Lee Camp knows which side to warm up with on Saturday.
Derby Home form:

AFCB Away form:

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