Derby County secured their first competitive victory under Frank Lampard, after Tom Lawrence scored a dramatic late winner against Reading.
There were a lot of questions regarding the way that the visitors would set-up under their new manager. Despite their victory, Derby didn’t deliver a convincing performance and there are problems for Lampard to address on the training pitch.
They dominated possession with 63.5% of the ball, but they were open at the back and they were lucky that Reading didn’t push them more. The Rams regularly gave the ball away in their own half and could have conceded more on another day.
For a team to effectively play out from the back, they need confident centre-backs that can put their foot on the ball and pick a forward pass. Neither Curtis Davies nor Richard Keogh looked comfortable on Friday evening. The latter, especially, was nervous every time he had possession. He made one defensive error and was fortunate not to cost his team a goal.
Keogh ended the match with a pass success rate of 83%. This isn’t bad, but Lampard will want his centre-backs to be aiming to have a pass success rate above 85% and nearer 90% in the current system.
The full-backs were an area of concern too, as they were both asked to push up the pitch at every opportunity, which left gaps at the back. Andre Wisdom and Max Lowe finished the game with yellow cards, as they were having to chase back and commit themselves to challenges. Their pass success rates of 67% and 69% respectively need work.
For the full-backs to play with such freedom, the team needs a quality ball-winning midfielder that can sit in front of the back four. One wasn’t present at the Madejski Stadium and Derby’s back four were vulnerable as a result. It is hoped that George Evans could be that player, but that is far from certain.
Lampard will make it clear to his players that a team can’t perfect a tactical set-up overnight and this was a positive learning experience for the squad. That is true, but there were some individual weaknesses that were there for all to see and that is a concern.
It is admirable that Lampard wants to play this brand of football and it could develop over time, but he needs to be pragmatic with what he has available to him. At times, Derby went long to David Nugent and picked up the second ball. This caused more problems for Reading.
Here is how Twitter reacted to Derby’s tactical set-up:
Derby’s passing is awful, Lampard has a lot of work to do.
— AM29 (@MorataSZN) August 3, 2018
— Mario Christou (@MarioChristou) August 3, 2018
Frank Lampard playing a possession game, but Wisdom, Keogh and Davies struggling to make any form of forward pass. Lowe looks the only one who isn't a bag of nerves. All the quality is up top, but Wilson and Mount can't get on the ball.
— Sean (@SeanWalkerSport) August 3, 2018
Richard Keogh was the centre of discussion when it came to Derby’s tactics:
That Derby centre back is terrible at passing. Keeps giving it away
— Daniel Fisher (@danfis) August 3, 2018
Frank Lampard after watching Richard Keogh for his Derby side in tonight’s game.
— Scott Wiles (@Scott_W88) August 3, 2018
Only seen 20 minutes of Richard Keogh being a ball-playing defender but I don’t reckon it’s going to work.
— Benjamin Wills (@_BenWills) August 3, 2018
Hate to be negative but Wisdom and Keogh have had a stinker first 20. Defensively we haven't improved and its our problem every single season
— Derby Retweets (@DerbyRetweets) August 3, 2018
Mason Mount’s performance was picked out as a positive:
First half Derby kept passing the ball to Lawerence and plays kept breaking down in the final third.
Since the goal, Derby have been passing the ball a lot more to Mount, and it beginning to cause some havoc around Reading’s box.
Mount always looking dangerous on the ball.
— /r/ChelseaFC (@redditchelseafc) August 3, 2018
Can see what Lampard wants to do just looks like the sides missing a player or 2. Nugent not really helping, nothing sticking.
Mount has big potential #DCFC
— Dave (@DaveJenkins56) August 3, 2018
Overall not what I expected from the first game but great result. Mount and Wilson brought the energy required. Lawrence the Ronaldo of the side… time we invest in a quality center back, spent nearly 40mil in mid/forward over the seasons and less than 5 on defenders#dcfc
— researchg (@researchg) August 3, 2018