Feature · Football

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Derby County find themselves ten points back of a playoff position and have not won a game in six throughout February.

Four losses to the hands of Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Leicester City, have thrown a spanner in the works for Steve McClaren.

It’s getting to the crunch stage of the season and the Rams are finding it hard to keep up with the pack. But why?

Returning for his second stint in charge at the club, McClaren’s early impact was surprising but no doubt incredible.

A mirror image of results and points to that of his first spell as Head Coach, a nine game unbeaten run put his side back in the mix after a dreadful season start.

Questions are now being asked as to where the club go from here following another year of promise that has seemingly run its course.

A squad with a lot of depth has at times proved invaluable, however some would also argue it’s been a hindrance on the hunger and desire of some players.

Attacking wise Derby have a very strong group. David Nugent, Darren Bent, Tom Ince, Johnny Russel, Mateij Vydra, Abdoul Camara and so on. But lately all above mentioned are struggling to cut it when needed the most.

This led to the signing of current out on loan striker Chris Martin to a new deal in a bid to re-find the winning formula.

Derby are and have been a very one dimensional side. Playing with a 4-3-3 formation week in week out, when games get tough and something different is needed, they seem very reluctant to change.

For me the season stopped following the away defeat to Leeds United, in a game that was controlled by the home side, Derby looked a million miles away.

Sloppy defending, poor decision making, lack of cutting edge, the whole game was a write off. Made worse by the fact Sky were broadcasting the embarrassment live on TV.

Leeds had it sorted though. A 4-2-3-1 formation meant they controlled game, they were never stretched and the middle of the park was theirs all game. Kyle Bartley marshalled the box disposing of any balls floated in.

Derby don’t have this. So many fans have left their hopes on Richard Keogh to return the club to the top flight but by now everyone can see this will not happen.

Defensively this is where Derby are so weak, there’s no real consistent confidence building quality apart from Scott Carson in net.

If next year is going to be a better end product, the rearguard needs to be heavily invested in during the transfer markets.

They need to be bigger and stronger, more consistent, no nonsense back four and that all starts by finding a captain.

Derby have lacked leadership during the troubled months year in year out and no one has been their to drag everybody together.

Final thoughts are that this year is done. The last few have not been what the fans deserve but hey ho, we keep paying in anyway.

If Derby want to finish in the top two next year they need to look to Brighton. This is what they need to model themselves on.

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