So, we`re just over a week into the season and already there has been plenty to talk about around Pride Park as a Derby County fan…
So, we`re just over a week into the season and already there has been plenty to talk about around Pride Park as a Derby County fan. Here are five talking points from the opening three games with The Rams currently undefeated with two wins and a draw?
1. John Brayford isn`t irreplaceable
Granted we are only three games into the season and one of Brayford`s strengths was his consistency but we look to have two young rightbacks who can fill the gap at the back. Brayford himself was a bit of an unknown quantity when he first came into the side so there is no reason to automatically assume that either of the young players cannot fill his boots this season. All of the talk suggests the Kieron Freeman may have been given the starting role a season earlier than anticipated and whilst he has the shirt at the moment I`m sure Adam Smith will have his part to play during the upcoming campaign. Brayford was a quality player but The Rams got a decent deal for a player who didn`t want to stay and it`ll be interesting to see how he fares in the Premiership with Cardiff this season.
2. Hendrick, Bryson and Hughes should not be played out of position
Whilst all of our trio of fine central midfielders will play wherever they are told by Nigel Clough and put in a good shift none of them are as effective when not played through the middle and the imbalance in midfield is easy to see when any of them are asked to play wide. Games against West Brom and Blackburn, as well as numerous encounters last season, have shown that whilst each can do a job out of position we are at our strongest when either all three play centrally or we have more natural wide players who will not spend all of their time coming inside for the ball.
The switch to a diamond formation against Brighton on Saturday showed how much more effective they are playing centrally and the level of performance was not recognisable from the opening day. If the fullbacks can consistently provide the width in this formation we could be on to a winner.
3. There appears to be a dwindling number of Rams fans with balanced opinions left
Reading through various forums and comments on articles online it appears you can no longer be a Derby fan without having diametrically opposed views on Nigel Clough and the club. Arguments from either side point out that if you`re pro-Clough you`re a ‘happy clapper` whereas the second you say anything negative you`re a ‘wrist slasher`. Have we really lowered ourselves to the lowest common denominator of football fans in that no one can have a differing point of view to you or can`t see the good and bad in the club?
I was frustrated as the next Rams fan that we conceded late on against Blackburn but to claim this purely down to being negative and going one up front completely ignores the fact that the change to five across midfield was in part one of the main reasons we got into the game in the first place. This is going to be a long season and there will be ups and downs, there will be times we get results that maybe we don`t deserve so let`s get behind the team until we have real reason to doubt them. I`m not saying we can`t be critical of the team or Clough but the level of ‘here we go again` whinging after every small setback is starting to get boring.
4. We can win in the League Cup
It turns out we don`t just have to play one game in the League Cup per year before going out just to illustrate the lack of depth in our squad. A professional performance away to Oldham and a team with five changes still looking capable of playing some decent football in a 1-0 victory, do we finally have a strong bench or were Oldham a pale imitation of their cup killing selves from the previous season? I`m going with the former and with a number of game changing players eager to make an impact and claim a starting spot things are looking better one week into the season. Now for the central defender we need?..
5. Sssh, say it quietly but I kind of like the new maroon away kit?