Football League action is back for the 2018-19 season and Derby kicked things off on Friday evening with a trip to face Reading.
It has been a haunting few weeks without competitive football since the World Cup final but the good news is the Championship is back – and Derby have a new name in charge in the form of Frank Lampard, an appointment that has left many feeling very old.
Lampard’s first proper match in charge of the Rams did not go entirely as he would have planned as the Rams fell behind seven minutes after the break but three points were secured in the end, following goals from Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence.
Here, we have identified three things we learnt from the match.
Old dog, new tricks
While the squad has been treated to the injection of young talent in the form of Mount and Harry Wilson, amongst others, the heart of defence is firm with the experienced duo of Curtis Davies and Richard Keogh – although there is still work to be done.
Against Reading, 31-year-old Keogh was trying to play the ball out from defence but it was not working for him, conceding possession on numerous occasions – including in the build-up to Reading’s opening goal seven minutes after the restart.
With less than a week to go in the transfer window, Lampard may now look to sign a new starter at the heart of defence as Keogh is looking like a weak link.
Mount-ing a challenge
Chelsea’s youth policy has been widely criticised in recent years, with the Blues accused of hoarding talent, but that often works in the favour of clubs outside the Premier League as talented youngsters spend time out on-loan.
Lampard wasted no time using his links with the west London giants to his favour by signing talented midfielder Mason Mount for the season and the 19-year-old caught the eye on his debut, equalising with a low drive from range.
Mount’s strike was certainly not the best goal he will score but it is clear he has taken early lessons from his boss by being encouraged to shoot from range, which could prove to be a fine asset for Derby in their charge for promotion.
“It’s unbelievable to score on my debut. This is a great club and we just wanted to win today, it was a massive opportunity for us to win this first game and we need to keep progressing now.”
– Mount speaking to Sky Sports’ live coverage about his goal.
Pre-season is irrelevant
This may be a surprise to some of you but good form in pre-season counts for nothing when the real football comes around and if Derby thought otherwise, they were brought back down to reality in their draw with Reading.
Ahead of the match, a lot was made of the fact Derby had won four of their five pre-season games while Reading were winless in their matches, suggesting the odds were in the favour of the visitors – but that did not prove to be the case.
Derby were second-best during the first half and can be thankful that Reading did not take their chances, with it not too surprising that it was the hosts that took the lead. Derby did respond and performed better after Mount’s equaliser but the last-gasp goal from Lawrence would have been a huge relief.