Patience of the Rams after shipping five at Forest
No-one likes losing a derby. Especially Derby. Nottingham Forest’s rampant rout of their local rivals caused understandable consternation among Rams supporters. Regular contributor Joel Clyne is not jumping on any bandwagons yet, though, with patience still the name of the game following similar articles throughout a promising season for Derby County.
The wrist slashers were back out in force again last night after a heavy defeat to those from the other end of the A52. It’s never easy being thumped by anyone, but over recent years there has been added spice to meetings between Derby County and Nottingham Forest. The Reds are packed with former Rams employees, the likes of boss Billy Davies, goalkeeper Lee Camp, record signing Rob Earnshaw – who has managed to cut it everywhere else but in the black and white – and now the recent loan signing of Marcus Tudgay who came up through the Derby ranks. Last night’s fixture was always going to be tasty to say the least.
It’s not only the two sets of fans that dislike each other. The players don’t hold one another in high regard and neither do the two sets of coaching staff. I wonder what ever happened to Billy Davies getting his lawyer involved over the dead leg he was on the receiving end of last season shortly after Forest’s away record was blown out the window. I suspect his lawyer has been a little more preoccupied over the past week or so.
The pressure has seemed to mount on Nigel Clough after this latest defeat. Five defeats in the last five games have followed an outstanding two-month period in which the Rams were ten minutes away from gaining third spot in the league.
I don’t really understand why there’s pressure on him though. Of course a defeat such as last night is frustrating and there were the usual knee-jerk overreactions, but to call for the manager’s head if he loses the next five is ridiculous.
Clough has hardly been backed in the transfer market during the two years that he has been at the club. Using a rough calculation, he has spent approximately £2.5million, although that hasn’t included loan fees and, accounting for those, you would find a total closer to £4million.
Clough loaned three players and signed one in January 2009 during his first transfer window. In his first full season in 2009/10, he signed six players and loaned in 14, paying for only two and spending £1.2million in the process (excluding loan fees). During this season, Clough has signed five players for a combined fee of £1million, paying for three. Five loans have followed.
That is not to say that there is money available. Part of Clough’s challenge has been getting rid of some of the tripe that was signed by the previous regimes.
Paul Jewell spent roughly £9 million on seven players, only of two of whom are still at the club, and one of those is permanently injured. Oh, and don’t think that it was only high transfer fees that Jewell paid – it was wages as well.
Robbie Savage was on £23,000 a week. Read that again, £23,000 a week being forked out for a 33-year-old in the Premier League. That would be bad enough but Savage’s deal didn’t even include a relegation wage drop.
Jewell signed a further nine players on free deals, of which only two remain. They weren’t cheap either. The first season back in The Championship and Derby had one of the highest wage bills in the division, as well as a ridiculous transfer budget. All of this resulted in a season of struggle, only securing safety in the penultimate game of the season.
It wasn’t just Jewell’s signings that needed to be shown the door. There were still players from Billy Davies’ “successful” promotion-winning side of 2006/07. It wasn’t until this summer that the club was rid of all of the dross signed by the previous two managers over a two-and-a-half year period.
Perhaps it is only this season in which Clough has had a chance to shape his own squad. They are his players now. They are far from the finished article, but there have been signs over the first half of the season that Derby are going somewhere with Clough at the helm. He is developing the Rams as a football club and as a side. And as a result, the fans are becoming more expectant.
The next two or three transfer windows are key for Clough. The coming summer is the big one, though. He has proven his worth with a small budget and it has been rare that his signings haven’t worked. The vast majority have improved the side and that includes loanees. Clough has an eye for a player and deserves the opportunity to spend a decent amount over the coming year.
In short, Clough deserves it for the job that he has done so far. His first two league positions do not look great on paper (18th and 14th) but the latter was the club’s third highest finish in the past ten years, all achieved while having to dismantle an overpaid squad and rebuild while still getting results.
At least now Clough can start to build his side properly. He has signed experience and he has signed youth. Now is the time to sign genuine quality and take the club on. The football played from the end of September through to the start of December shows just what Clough’s Derby is capable of. A young squad with no depth is always going to have patchy form due to fitness issues and lack of experience.
Even if Clough was to lose the next five games, it would be an absolute catastrophe to get rid of him now, just when he is on the brink of something good. Whenever a manager is sacked, fans creep out of the woodwork and say how stability is essential for a club to succeed.
Under Clough, Derby are heading in the right direction and the next 18 months will prove that. Have patience. Good things come to those who wait – and believe me, it will be well worth the wait.