Date: 15th March 2007 at 7:06am
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Today we welcome on board Nick Christie for a no holds barred look at the Rams. A Rams fan from Sydney in Australia, Nick has written a number of articles for the Australian Branch of the Australian Supporters club – ‘Aussieenders` – and his thought provoking view have been popular down under. I hope you enjoy!!!!!

I asked Nick for a piece on the Rams managers over the past few seasons, and of course Nick has not let anyone of the hook. He will be writing a regular column each month, so please let me know your thoughts.
He first starts talking about his least favourite player Craig Burley and how bad he was – over to you Nick.

How bad? I`ll tell you how bad. He, and a bunch of other overpaid clowns who occasionally deigned to present themselves at Pride Park, took us down from the Premier League, and promptly blamed the manager for his hard tactics. On other message boards I see him referred to as the ‘purple ponce`, but irrespective of what may have happened (and I do think that there is more to come out of that story, especially as he was ultimately given a payout), I do believe that when he left Villa for Derby, John Gregory had only the best interests of our club at heart.

Yes, it was all John Gregory`s fault that the money-sapping egotists, who had the hide to refer to themselves as footballers, and Derby County ones at that, did so badly. I reckon Craig the nephew should have put more effort in on the pitch, instead of sorting out his parking problems at Pride Park, and then he might have got some sympathy in these quarters. And not just him, either. The only time Georgio Kinkladze did what we all knew he was capable of was when he got to within three months of the end of his contract – that big fat lucrative gravy train, enough to buy fifteen blocks of apartments in his home town. Enough about that lot of historical has-beens, they still make my blood boil.

So, what`s next? Managers – they come and go at Pride Park, as they did at the Baseball Ground. Bye bye Gregs, hello George Burley. How he did it is one of those mysteries, but to the play-offs we went. Not surprisingly, out we went, and I for one was spared the misery of losing again in a play-off final. Actually, it would have been hilarious to see how the Three Amigos would have coped with the Premier League expenses, but more on that bunch of crooks later (and if one of them wishes to pick me up for slander then I suggest they tell us all why the Derbyshire Constabulary are still formally investigating the way they conducted business – I`m sure it`s not because they have nothing else to do with their time, and also why they sold Hudds for a measly $600K to Spurs – Businessmen my arse.)

Anyway, George Burley left, and a vicious rumour emerged that it was something to do with another half of a now ex-Derby player. Do you know, if I didn`t know better, I would have said that it was not beyond the devious doings of one Murdo Mackay to have started a rumour like that to make the board look good over the real reason as to why Uncle George left, but because Murdo is one of those honest above reproach type of guys, I could not possibly envisage that ever happening.

We all know that the old board would never have told Uncle George that they were behind on the interest payments on their massive three quid investment, and therefore Gregorz Rasiak would have to go to raise some funds. Of course they wouldn`t – they were genuine salt of the earth diehard Rams fans, and besides, FB Jeremy Keith (you all know that FB stands for Financial Backer, now come on!) would have had to take time out from his train set to locate a replacement striker for Uncle George. Uncle George is a principled man, and I am so sorry that he had to leave Derby County. He did so well with the very limited resources he had, and who knows what he would have done the next season if he had been given a couple of extra players.

But just think – if that had happened then we wouldn`t have had poor old Phil Tan Brown, thrown in at the deep end of management, not only with a shonky board of directors to contend with, but in front of one of the most critical and partisan crowds in the Football League. Thanks for coming, Phil, and my deepest apologies for inheriting what you did in your first proper management job – Best of luck with Hull City.

Then came Terry Westley, and whilst good on yer for keeping us up, spitting the dummy out of the pram was not good. So why did he spit the dummy? Because the best thing that has happened to Derby County since Lionel Pickering bailed us out of the Robert Maxwell nightmare came about. All good things happen to those who wait, and if you follow Derby County then you`ll know that we are forever waiting, and very long-suffering. Enter Peter Gadsby and Co. If Monty Python had been involved, then I`m sure that the heavens above Pride Park would have opened up to illiminate the stadium as the Three Amigos departed, and the not-quite Famous Five arrived.

Peter Gadsby said that his management signing would raise the roof, and he also said that Terry Westley was not in the frame to be our manager. Good onyer Peter for being honest with him. Raise the roof? Billy Davies, with what he had achieved at Preston did not raise the roof in my house. Good signing, yes, but raise the roof?

I am delighted, nay, ecstatic to be eating humble pie in honour of what Billy Davies has achieved in such a short space of time at Pride Park. I still cannot get my head around looking at the league tables every few days and seeing Derby changing places at the top with Birmingham faster than The Sun reports David Beckham changing his underpants. There is something surreal about the whole situation, and with only eight games to go, it has turned into yet another check the entire results do the math, end of season run-in, except that this season it is for all the right reasons.

I had cause to be back in England for a day, the day we played Burnley at Pride Park. For once I was able to relax (only very slightly, mind) and watch people in Derby County shirts actually playing good football. Dean Leacock was just class, and David Jones has been stolen from United. Darren Moore is just a rock (a bloody large and solid one, too), and Steve Howard gives 100% (scored a clinical centre forward`s goal).

Since then I have had the pleasure of watching us live on Foxtel, not once, but twice in successive weeks, and there`s more to come in April. Colchester were the hapless bunch of losers who put themselves up as the team that Derby were due to tonk. Apart from a wobbly ten minutes after the break, I thought Derby, and especially Giles Barnes, were just a joy to watch – no bias there then. My neighbours might not agree with all those sentiments, and after the Birmingham game I`m sure that their vocabulary, well, certain aspects of it, has been dramatically extended. But this is Derby County we are talking about, and from being unbeatable one Saturday morning, they went to could not score in a brothel mode against Birmingham. I thought both teams played well, given the heavy pitch, but Derby started off with the wrong line-up. John Macken should never be starting with Steve Howard. Three games in a week had obviously taken its toll, and if he had been fit, I`m sure that Steve Pearson would have started ahead of Giles Barnes. But what am I saying here?

That Derby County actually have a squad of players, a squad which is starting to resemble something which will be consistently competitive, under a manager who has put the Pride Passion and Belief back into the club? Too right I am. What Billy Davies has done is quite fantastic. What manager could have come in and said that the two crowd favourites, i.e. Tommy Smith and Inigo Idaikez can go? What manager could have come in and said that the two young England representative keepers aren`t what we need, and get out there and find somebody better? I have to say I was slightly stunned over the goalkeeper one, but BD was right.

He may have been lucky with the new acquisitions gelling so quickly, but he knew what he wanted, he knew how to get it, and he has never stopped in his objective of turning Derby County around. I suppose it helps that he has a board of directors who have done what they said they were going to do, and they definitely rolled the dice in January in bringing in what Billy wanted. He showed everybody what he could do with a shoestring squad, and now it is up to him to deliver the final piece in the jigsaw. Eight games left and we may well lose to Cardiff this Saturday.

But any two of the top six could realistically finish in the automatic promotion spots, and I am sure that BD has what it takes to keep pushing us all the way. If I said I would be gutted if we miss out on one of the top two spots, I would not be telling the truth. Ditto the play-offs. If I was honest, I would be disappointed given our current position, but overall? If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if I would have been happy with a mid-table finish, I would have been very happy.

Some stability and the odd good showing here and there – something to tempt me in for next season. I have so enjoyed this season, seeing Derby post win after win, that up until last week the defeats weren`t really bothering me (mmmm, small white lie to aid poetic licence). This season has been amazing, and all I can say (is there much else left?) is thank you to Peter Gadsby for getting rid of the bunch of crooks who so nearly took our club out of existence, and having the stroke of genius to poach Billy Davies from PNE.

COME ON YOU RAMS. This is our season.


Please note – The thoughts and views in this column are of the author and may not be the views of the Vital football web site.


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