Playing the Long Game at Derby
Derby County’s first opening day victory for seven years was greeted with some gusto at Pride Park on Saturday, but Nigel Clough will be in the stables setting up a strong set of reins for his horses. The 2-1 victory over a hotly tipped Peterborough United set off whoops of delight in Litchurch and Wilmorton, but the history of Clough Junior’s stay across the county border at Burton Albion will identify him as disdainful of instant gratification.
The chief Summer signings all suggest evolution, not revolution. Dean Moxey was persuaded away from Paul Tisdale’s exciting Exeter project and his arrival has the air of a well judged lower division pluck, Shaun Barker makes a step up in profile after the best part of a decade at Millmoor and Bloomfield Road and Lee Croft provides wing balance to the mercurial antics of that controversial Forest deserter of a year ago, Kris Commons. But none are eye diverting — not in the way of Southampton’s bank balance defying capture of Rickie Lambert this week.
Clough will emphasize a commonsense approach, combining the excellent man management skills he displayed in turning the Lebanon bound Robbie Savage round, with a taste for encouraging youth: another signing, Jake Buxton from the Staffordshire Albion looks one of his most intriguing. Don’t misunderstand me, Derby could feature highly in the table, but young Nigel won’t be dissatisfied with a mid table finish and progress.