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.
Paul Gladon may need to change his thinking to seal Wolves exit
The Dutch striker has no chance of regular football at Molineux this season.
In the summer of 2016 Wolverhampton Wanderers snapped up Dutch striker Paul Gladon from Heracles Almelo. The striker had a good scoring record in the past with the likes of Sparta Rotterdam and FC Dordrecht.
However, the £1 million signing has struggled in England.
Gladon featured just three times in his debut season and was cast aside by Paul Lambert after his arrival in November 2016.
Then the Fosun era got into full flow and with the influx of new players Gladon found himself out of favour. He was loaned back to Heracles last season where he made minimal impact.
“He’s just not part of it. I’ve got so many players here. Paul has maybe found it hard himself. I think it’s maybe thrown him as well, how hard it is. I’ve just got to go with ones I think can do it, week in week out.”
The signing of Gladon seemed puzzling at the time and now, with Wolves in the Premier League, his chances of playing for Wolves again appear incredibly slim.
Gladon, like Joe Mason, Dominic Iorfa and Michal Zyro to name a few, has become one of Wolves’ outcasts and he needs to be shifted before the end of the month. Roda JC and FC Twente came knocking in July but, as reported by Tribal Football, he does not wish to play in the Dutch second-tier.
With time running out to find a new club he may want to revisit that stance or spend a season in the reserves.
After finally starting first Aston Villa game, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy must take chance
Aston Villa will hope Hepburn-Murphy can thrive at Villa Park.
Aston Villa faced Yeovil in the League Cup this week. A solitary goal from Conor Hourihane gave the Championship side the win and advancement to the second round. It was also a game which saw Steve Bruce give a chance to several young talents.
One such player was forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. The 19-year-old may have made his debut under Tim Sherwood way back in 2015, but this was actually his first start for his hometown club.
Hepburn-Murphy has been in and around the first-team for some time. His goalscoring record with the development team is a testament to his talents and Aston Villa fans are backing him for success.
He currently has a chance in the first-team and, he needs to take it now.
With Scott Hogan injured and Aston Villa not making big transfer moves so far this summer, suddenly Hepburn-Murphy has a chance to cement his place in the first-team picture.
The teenager, who has had to battle injury trouble in recent seasons, has the perfect opportunity in his hands. He worked tirelessly against Yeovil and that will put him in good stead. But a goal or two would get that monkey off his back and have Aston Villa fans calling for him to remain in Bruce’s plans.
Nottingham Forest bagged a bargain with Adlene Guedioura free transfer
The Algerian is thriving in his second stint at Nottingham Forest.
In January, Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka made plenty of additions to the team at the City Ground. Plenty of new faces arrived, with many of them being praised by fans immediately. But one who certainly puzzled some was Adlene Guedioura.
The former Forest man returned to the club he left in 2013. His previous spell at the City Ground was a success, so fans knew what he was capable of. However, the 32-year-old had struggled for football in recent times. He has managed just six games with Middlesbrough that season and just five overall in the whole of 2016-17 with Watford.
Perhaps the Algerian was passed it?
However, the experienced midfielder has proven that is not the case. He slotted straight into the Forest team again last season and added some much-needed energy and experience to the middle of the park.
This season, he has been even better. Nottingham Forest have plenty to thank Guedioura for in their unbeaten start to the season. As well as his one goal and one assist so far, his overall game has been magnificent.
He is keeping the likes of Liam Bridcutt and Ben Watson out of the starting XI and that is a testament to his form this season.
Considering he did not cost Nottingham Forest a penny, it looks like this was an absolute steal from the Reds.
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