Should Rams rein in growing expectation?

In July, Joel Clyne wrote a piece on Derby County building for the future and an overview of their summer signings. Now, 13 games into the new season with aspects of the division starting to take shape, Joel thought it would be a good idea to have a closer look at how the Rams are progressing.

Not so many changes were made at the club last summer. So far, the biggest and most significant change has been that of the formation. Out has gone the dated and rigid 4-4-2 and in has come the more fluid 4-2-3-1.

Clough has always wanted the side to play football on the ground, much like his father was famously quoted, yet there have only been sporadic periods during his tenure that Rams fans have seen this. Until this season.

The formation seems to suit the players in the squad and enables Derby to get the best out of their most talented players – Kris Commons and loanee Alberto Bueno, neither of whom are big enough or strong enough to play as an out and out striker. The formation gives these two the freedom to do as they please and gives the side that bit of magic that many sides are crying out for.

It is the front four that have most pleased in recent weeks. The loan signing of Bueno from Valladolid until the end of the season was always going to be a risk but so far it looks as if it has paid off. He has scored three in seven appearances, not bad for a player who had previously only managed two goals in his professional career. Bueno also has an assist to his name but, on a wider scale, his all-round play has been a joy to watch and his ability to find pockets of space in between midfield and attack has been beneficial to the side.

Bueno has removed a burden from Kris Commons, who has carried the expectations of Pride Park on his shoulders for too long. Commons has always been a talented player who, on his day, can win a match single-handedly but also one that has been injured too often and is a frustration at times. For all the talent that he possesses, Commons often doesn’t do himself justice and it is his inconsistent performances that frustrate players, managers and fans alike.

The above is an honest assessment of Commons. I imagine it is one which the majority of Rams fans would agree with. However, at the time of writing Commons is in outstanding form having already notched up seven league goals – only one short of equalling his totals from the last two seasons. The quality of his goals have been Premier League standard.

Maybe the penny has finally dropped for Commons. Maybe he realises that with, hard work and dedication (he turned up a month before the rest of the squad for pre-season training to make sure he didn’t have another season like the last one), he can reach his potential. Maybe he’s just playing for a new contract (his current deal is up at the end of the season).

Current form has been excellent but the Rams made a shaky start to the season. A solid 2-1 win away to Leeds on the opening day was the only win in the first six games of the season, although the performances deserved more and the side was unlucky not to take all three points from a demoralising home game against Queens Park Rangers, conceding two in the final few minutes.

It is this naivety that will put a stop to Derby being in the top six come the end of the season. Fans should be content with a top half finish. Some will say that we should be spending money and going for the play-offs but this side aren’t ready for that. I don’t think it would be a good idea to go up that way either. The best way forward is to continue plucking talented youngsters from the lower leagues and spending big money on a signing or two in the summer.

In the summer, it seemed that Derby fans had come round to the idea that this was a project which would take a few years to come together. The club is at a good stage in its development and it is reassuring that supporters have progression to reflect upon.

Current form proves that Derby have the right man in charge. The side is young, so there will be drops in form, bad results and abject performances along the way but this is all to be expected.

Patience is key.

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.

11 Comments

  1. SteveM
    November 4, 2010

    Agreed.

    Here’s hoping the Commons to Rangers rumours are just the usual Mirror gumph and not based in any fact. He does have previous for this sort of thing with our Red friends mind.

    Who out of the new young bucks are you most impressed with?

    Reply
  2. theseventytwo
    November 4, 2010

    How confident are you sheepish types about your forthcoming visit to the Fortress that Sven built?

    Reply
  3. theseventytwo
    November 4, 2010

    Also, hope the numbers still add up? Joel wrote this before the weekend but I’ve only just had a chance to publish it.

    Reply
    • SteveM
      November 4, 2010

      Yeah they do, neither Commons nor Bueno scored so still accurate.

      I am confident in the Leicester game, but it’ll be tight. I can’t remember a non-tight game since Heskey and Izzet ripped us to shreds in the late 90s. Shame I can’t make it but i’m at a darn wedding that day.

      Are you confident?

      Reply
      • theseventytwo
        November 4, 2010

        Ish. Agree it’ll be tight. Could come down to key battles.

        From City’s perspective, Wellens will probably try to double up on Commons down the middle. At the other end of midfield, Savage v King will be interesting (especially for the Welsh!) and our main attacking outlet at the moment is Kyle Naughton from right-back so your left side will have to work hard.

        Our strikers have struggled this season and Shaun Barker (if he’s fit?) was superb at Pride Park in March. What do you think your side will be?

        Reply
        • SteveM
          November 4, 2010

          Barker is fit enough to be in the team, but he hasn’t been the same player this season. Still, he’s doing well enough at the minute!

          Not sure if Moxey has been tested like he will be against Naughton yet, mind you, i’m sure he’d be a better option to deal with pace than Roberts.

          If Bueno has recovered fully in time the team will probably be; Fielding, Brayford, Barker, Leacock, Moxey, Savage, Bailey, Bueno, Commons, Green, Kuqi.

          Although Cywka could easily come in for any of the last 4 if we have injuries or Clough decides this one isn’t for Kuqi again. Not sure when Bywater is expected back.

          Reply
          • theseventytwo
            November 4, 2010

            Who are the wingers there?

            Reply
          • SteveM
            November 4, 2010

            There are no wingers in the new fangled 4-2-3-1 system… just roving attacking taletns loosely attributed a side, so Green would be on the right and Commons left, but equally, Bueno could pop up on either flank. Tis a very fluid formation that has won us these recent games and long may it continue. Sheff Utd snuffed us out comprehensively mind, but no-one since at home has come close.

            Reply
  4. Lanterne Rouge
    November 4, 2010

    Growing Expectation? Thanks to those two titles wins, the sense of entitlement at Derby has always been pretty high. Commons is a talent for sure, but not really a team player. Selling him might release funds to purchase more effective players at this level.

    Reply
    • theseventytwo
      November 4, 2010

      I’ll take the bash for the title. I’ll also defend it from the point of view that Derby fans probably didn’t expect top six before the season started and might now think it’s attainable given the level of their performances so far.

      Commons has always struck me as an inconsistent player but leopards can change their spots and if he’s producing more regularly, maybe he’s worth holding onto as a player to build a hard-working team around?

      Reply
  5. Neil Jones
    November 4, 2010

    Good piece Joel.
    Think you are spot on with Commons, both in that the penny may finally have dropped, and the fact that his contract status will be playing on his mind.

    Reply

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