With a new era at Derby County fully under way, we are now able to reflect on the first week of the season. Nigel Pearson’s first three competitive games in charge of Derby has seen an expected victory in the cup over Grimsby Town, a respectable draw against last year’s third best, Brighton, and a disappointing defeat yesterday to Barnsley. Considering the addition of a make-shift left back in Chris Baird against Brighton, and the loss of Andreas Weimann -a pivotal player in preseason – the Brighton draw appeared do be acceptable. However, for many Derby fans, the performance and more importantly result to Barnsley was not acceptable. For a team backed again by many to be serious contenders at the top, it is a slow start, but is there cause for concern? No.
However, for many Derby fans, the performance and more importantly result to Barnsley was not acceptable. For a team backed again by many to be serious contenders at the top, it is a slow start, but is there cause for concern? No.
In a time where paying £89 million for an ex-player to return is deemed acceptable, results are expected quick, fast and in a hurry. However, in the Championship it is rare or even impossible for a team to go a full 46 games without breaking stride at the top of the division. Newcastle United’s last stint in the Championship is probably one of the only occasions that spring to mind where the favourite at the start of the season, cake-walked the division. However, as the Magpies are now finding out, the division has become even tougher to break out from with arguably more resilient teams at the top of the Championship
However, as the Magpies are now finding out, the division has become even tougher to break out from with arguably more resilient teams at the top of the Championship than at the bottom of the Premier League. And yet Derby fans ‘booed’ yesterday at full time, and they booed last week at times despite arguably a good point against Brighton. Why two games into a 46 game season, are Rams fans already so restless? Because football fans can be fickle.
After a respectable fight to finish off Derby County’s season in an away play-off second leg at Hull, Derby needed a new manager. The fans cried out for a man with Championship experience, a leader, a passionate coach, someone who has ‘done it’ before. Nigel Pearson ticks all of those boxes. Derby wanted Nigel Pearson and they now have Nigel Pearson.
However, somehow, many Derby fans expected Nigel Pearson to bring his own style of football to the same team that has been playing the same 4-3-3 for each of the last three seasons without any fall-out.This project will take time and Pearson needs the room to implement his philosophy. This is not a time for panic and frustration. He has had a month with the squad all told, yes.
However, friendlies against lower tier German teams are not exactly home games in the league against Brighton. Pearson did not know how his squad would perform on the competitive stage with his style of play. Now he does, and now we can expect change.
This project will take time and Pearson needs the room to implement his philosophy. This is not a time for panic and frustration. He has had a month with the squad all told, yes. However, friendlies against lower tier German teams are not exactly home games in the league against Brighton. Pearson did not know how his squad would perform on the competitive stage with his style of play. Now he does, and now we can expect change.
It is anticipated that Derby will sign players over the coming weeks. With a relatively stout defence and an unquestionably talented midfield, it appears it may be the attack where the squad could be bolstered. After ineffective performances from Darren Bent in his first two league games, and considering the inconsistency of Chris Martin, it could be argued that it is time Derby strengthened their centre-forward position.
The Rams are yet to score in the league and have one goal – from a defender – in 270 mins of football thus far. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that Derby have been heavily linked with three big names in the Championship: Kodja of Bristol City, Wells of Huddersfield and Forestieri of Wednesday.
Nahki Wells of Huddersfield Town, when fit, has always been a vital part of the Terriers’ front line – scoring 35 goals in over 100 appearances for a team that has often struggled at the bottom of the Championship. With his electrifying pace, he can cause Championship defences a lot of issues. Derby’s Assistant Manager, Chris Powell, has also worked with Wells during his time as manager of Huddersfield, so it could be an easy link for the Rams.
The only issue of which Derby should be aware is Wells’ injury history. Nonetheless, he would be a good fit to Pearson and Derby’s fast paced 4-4-1-1 system. He could play in front of Tom Ince in the ‘number 10′ role, or he could even be a good fit in a 4-4-2, alongside a Chris Martin or a Nick Blackman. However, spending within reason as injuries could be an issue. Anything more than £6 million is a very high asking price.
Fernando Forestieri of Sheffield Wednesday was a centrepiece of the club’s push for promotion last season. Scoring an impressive 15 goals in 36 appearances for Wednesday, he is a very valuable weapon for the Owls. An experienced 26-year-old, having played for nine different clubs already throughout his career, he has mastered the aforementioned ‘number 10’ role. With many reports suggesting he would like to depart Hillsborough, the Italian could be a very valuable fit to Nigel Pearson’s Derby system.
Nonetheless, there are two issues with Derby approaching the 26-year-old. Problem one being that his playing style is very similar to that of Derby’s current ‘number ten’, Tom Ince. A team with Tom Ince and Forestieri would not function to its fullest potential. It would be a case of Ince or Forestieri, and that to me causes more problems than it solves. Another concern is that he will come at a cost. Wednesday, who have ambitions of the Premier League themselves, are in no position to sell, so it would be a hefty asking price to bring the Italian to the iPro – a price most likely too high for an Ince replica.
Meanwhile, Jonathen Kodja of Bristol City has been one of the most sought after forwards in the Championship. With 20 goals in 40 plus appearances – an almost goal per two-game ratio- he is understandably high up on most teams list of targets. Kodja is a very similar player to Nahki Wells, but recently, with better results. The Frenchman provides power with pace – a rare but invaluable combination for a striker. He would be a perfect fit for Derby County and the Rams should go the extra mile to try and acquire him, if possible. A team with Kodja, Martin and Bent would undoubtedly score more goals than Carson, Keogh and Shackell would concede.
It has been a slow start for Derby County, there is no question of that. At times the performance against Barnsley seemed to lack desire. However, I strongly believe that is due to the change of system, rather than the lack of talent or want. It will take time for the club to fully adjust to the new Pearson system. However, Pearson is a terrific coach and I strongly believe that with patience, the system will work. The players need the support of the fans which at times has lacked in both of Derbys first two league games. An interesting tie lies around the corner with an away trip to Deepdale to face Preston who have lost their first two league matches. This could be an opportunity to kick-start a damp squid start to the season, however, a better performance is a necessity. With an addition or two, the Pearson regime will work, it just requires patience and belief.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Alex Hannam.