Nigel Clough’s Forgotten XI


Since Nigel Clough has been manager of Derby County he has, notably, frozen out some players. I’ve decided to make an XI of those. Read on and find out who’s made the eleven. By this post, I’m not saying that these players shouldn’t have been out of the plans (in some cases, I may think they should be in the plans) but merely listing and writing about those that have plummeted down the Clough pecking order at Pride Park.

Stephen Bywater

Stephen Bywater Stephen Bywater of Derby shows his frustration during the Coca-Cola Championship match between Derby County and Scunthorpe United at Pride Park on January 9, 2010 in Derby, England.

Stephen Bywater, during has time with Clough, has been first choice for the majority of the time. We first knew that he didn’t seem under the manager’s plans in March 2011, when he was sent out on loan to Cardiff and Derby drafted in Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones on loan. Bywater had been Nigel’s first choice stopper for pretty much all the time up until then. With Bywater Cardiff reached the play-off semi-finals, but were knocked out to Reading when Bywater made a terrible error. Frank Fielding had spent a loan spell at Pride Park earlier that campaign and impressed.

The following season (2011-12), after coming back from Cardiff, the former West Ham ‘keeper was clearly out of the club’s plans as Frank Fielding was brought in one a permanent deal from Blackburn and Adam Legzdins came in to deputise Frank from Burton. At the start of that season, Derby’s goalkeeper coach Martin Taylor revealed “He’s not in the squad at all. Nothing against Stephen because he’s worked really hard but he doesn’t figure in our plans. At his age he just needs to play games and get in the shop window.” Soon into the season, Sheffield Wednesday took him on loan and subsequently signed him in January after his contract was mutually terminated.

Interestingly, in 2009, when Bywater was firmly Derby’s number one – Nigel Clough said that the goalkeeper should be considered for England. “He has been steady when we have needed him, Stephen. He has been very, very consistent and steady this season. We have mentioned in the past about a possible World Cup in the summer depending on other injuries and so on because he is English, he is fit and he is playing, and there are not too many English goalkeepers doing that at the moment. He looked calm and composed and his handling was extremely clean from crosses and things, hence we got the clean sheet. (talking about a 0-0 draw V Newcastle)” was what Clough said. Only two years on, he was frozen out of the first team picture.

Frank Fielding does look a much better goalkeeper, it has to be said. However Bywater had a brilliant first season at Derby, helping the club to promotion. Now, Bywater is second choice at Hillsborough – behind Chris Kirkland.

Paul Connolly

Paul Connolly was initially captain under Nigel Clough, but lost the armband in August 2009 to Robbie Savage. Nigel subsequently explained that he needs to “concentrate on his own game. (He) was quite relieved in some ways because it is a big responsibility, especially when you are at full-back and out of the action.”

He did start that season, Clough’s first full season as manager, as first choice. However it wasn’t long until the former Plymouth defender fell down the pecking order. Over the course of that campaign two different right-backs, the same position as Connolly, were brought in. Frederik Stoor from Fulham and Nicky Hunt from Bolton were the two loanees brought to Pride Park. It soon was clear, Paul Connolly was not part of his plans. Later that season he was loaned to Sheffield United to get some action. The Rams released the full-back in the summer of 2010 and he joined then newly promoted side Leeds United.

He now is on loan, from Leeds, at League One Portsmouth. At Leeds he’d lost his first team spot.

Dean Leacock

Dean Leacock, in his time at Pride Park, has served the club well. He made over 120 appearances in total but perhaps could have made more had it not been for injuries. Leacock had been out of the first team picture prior to falling down the pecking order with Clough. He had been frozen out by Paul Jewell in 2008 but fought his way back into the side following the retirement of Alan Stubbs.

Nigel Clough heavily criticised the centre-back after his performance in the heavy defeat at Nottingham Forest in 2010 and dropped him for a number of games afterwards.

The following season, 2011/12, Leacock was completely out of the first team. He’d hadn’t been handed a squad number and didn’t feature at all in the first team. In January 2012 his Rams contract was terminated, mutually, so he could join League One side Leyton Orient.

Following the expiration of his contract  at Leyton Orient, in the summer of 2011, he joined Notts County.

Miles Addison

Miles Addison is a product of the club’s youth academy. He had been frozen out prior to Nigel Clough, when Billy Davies was boss he wasn’t given much of a chance at all.

The 2008/2009 game was when we mainly saw Addison’s real emergence and we also saw him captain the side at just 19 years old. After Paul Jewell departed he continued his form but picked up an injury, under Clough, ending his campaign early. He won the club’s Young Player Of The Year award despite missing the latter part of the campaign.

The defender/midfielder started the 2009/2010 season well, scoring 2 goals and even picking up an England under-21 cap. After a string of foot injury problems he missed a large part of that season and parts of the 2010/2011 campaign.

In June 2011, Miles signed a contract extension with The Rams. Soon after he agreed a 6 month loan deal with South Yorkshire side Barnsley.

He only made a handful of appearances at Barnsley and when he returned to Derby in January, many supporters called for him to be given a chance in the squad. He was overlooked and sent out on loan again to Bournemouth, who signed him on a permanent deal in the summer. This left many wondering why he even signed a contract extension and for many why he wasn’t given a chance.

Lee Croft

Lee Croft was signed by Nigel Clough ahead of the 2009/2010 season. He cemented a place in  the side early on that season but failed to continue to do so as his form dropped and he picked up an injury in February. The next season he was loaned to Huddersfield for six months, where he didn’t impress and picked up criticism from then Terriors boss Lee Clarke “Sadly, Lee Croft couldn’t achieve the levels I know he can offer. I saw him during my last season with Norwich when he was in sensational form, but during his time with us he wasn’t able to reproduce that” When he returned ,in January 2011, he didn’t feature in the first team and played reserve team matches for the rest of the season.

The next campaign saw Lee Croft regain his place in the club’s first team. He started the first few games but couldn’t hold down a place for long and was frozen out. In January, Nigel Clough loaned him out to SPL side St Johnstone. By this time, he was clearly out of the plans. He’s now on loan, from The Rams, at Oldham. Croft’s Derby contract expires at the end of the season.

James Bailey

James Bailey, along with John Brayford, signed for The Rams from Crewe in 2010. He featured regularly that season, alongside fellow central midfielder Robbie Savage and won the Young Player Of The Year award.

The former Crewe midfielder started the 2011/2012 campaign in the starting eleven but picked up an ankle injury in September, ruling him out for three months. His injury allowed Irish youngster Jeff Hendrick a chance to shine in the first team, which he took well. Upon Bailey’s return from injury he found games few and far between, also down to the fact that Derby brought in centre midfielder Tom Carroll on loan from Tottenham.

He hasn’t featured in a single Rams matchday squad this term and was loaned out to Coventry last month. The midfielder has found himself further down the Clough pecking order this season, with Will Hughes’ emergence.

Stephen Pearson

Pearson will always be considered a Derby hero for his play-off final goal in 2007. His Rams career under Nigel Clough began in Clough’s first season (half season- 2009/2009) as boss, he was only just returning from injury. It was the following campaign that he made the most appearances, 42 to be precise. He went on to be a regular the next season but lost his place in the team ahead of the 2011/2012 season.

He fell down the pecking order as a number of new faces were brought in, only making one appearance. In November he signed for Championship strugglers Bristol City and then signed permanently in January.

Ben Davies

Ben Davies was a £350,000 signing in January 2011. He was a regular name on the team sheet after joining Derby and was also in the 2011/2012 season, up until December.

Nigel Clough dropped the former Notts County winger in December and wasn’t recalled to the team (apart from a couple of sub appearances) until March. He was a regular after that and ended the season with a total of 11 assists.

So far this season, Davies has only made two first team appearances and two matchday squads. His dip in the pecking order is partly down to summer signing Paul Coutts, who’s made some impressive performances this term.

Dave Martin

Dave Martin started out with Derby on loan in February 2010, from Millwall. He was signed with a view to signing permanently and he did impress Nigel Clough enough to sign him straight after the season concluded. During his loan spell, he started once and came off the bench 9 times. He even scored in the final game of the season against Cardiff.

The following season, 2010/2011, Martin struggled to make an impact and made just 2 sub appearances. It became evident that the former Millwall winger wasn’t part of any plans at Pride Park and joined up with League One Notts County in February on a loan deal.

He returned to Derby, after the loan spell, ahead of the 2011/2012 campaign. He remained out of the first team picture and you could be forgiven for not realising he was still a Derby player! He was sent on loan to Walsall and then he joined Southend in January, finally leaving Pride Park.

Tomasz Cywka

The Polish midfielder/forward signed on a loan deal towards the end of the 2009/2010 campaign, that deal was then made permanent in the summer of 2010 as The Rams began preparations for the 2010/2011 season. The Pole was a regular for The Rams and a key player until he was criticised, in public,  about a performance in a game against Portsmouth in February 2011. “He’s an extremely inexperienced and not very bright footballer… he can go back to Wigan or wherever he came from – I’m not really bothered – until he learns the game.” Nigel Clough said. After this, he continued in the first team until injury ruled him out for the rest of the season. Cywka was quite popular amongst fans, who often sang “Super, Super Tom. Super Tommy Cywka!”

Cywka was out the side in the 2011/2012 season, much to the surprise and annoyance of some supporters. He was a surprise inclusion in the starting eleven in the team at Nottingham Forest in September, that was his first start of the season. He was substituted immediately as Frank Fielding was sent off. He never really worked his way back into the team after that and was told he could leave for free in January. Eventually he moved south to promotion chasing Reading in a contract ’till the end of the season.

His appearances were few and far between with Reading and he was released at the conclusion of the campaign. He signed for Barnsley on a free after his departure from the Madjeski Stadium.

Chris Maguire

Chris Maguire Chris Maguire celebrates after scoring his team's second goal of the game during the npower Championship match between Derby County and Portsmouth at the Pride Park Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Derby, England.

Maguire took  a lot of work signing, because of difficulties reaching a fee. His first start came on 29 October 2011, having been given little opportunities prior to that. Yet he was still even behind youngsters 15 year old Mason Bennett and 19 year old Callum Ball. The Scotsman scored a lot of goals in the reserve league but was continually left out, leaving many supporters puzzled as to why.

In March 2012, Chris agreed a loan deal to financially and relegation struggling Portsmouth. The former Aberdeen striker scored 3 times at Pompey, during his loan spell, and received praise from manager Michael Appleton. Despite this the cash stricken club were relegated and did express a desire to sign Maguire, but knew it would be difficult under their financial situation.

During the summer, he agreed a move to newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday. After he left, Maguire said “I wasn’t given a fair chance. I scored two goals in three starts and there wasn’t much more I could have done. I ended up playing in the reserves and training with kids. I don’t know what went wrong there. I asked Clough if there was a problem and I don’t think he liked that. I’m happy to be out of there after the way I was treated.”

Twitter- @NMtherams

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2 Responses to Nigel Clough’s Forgotten XI

  1. Cameron says:

    not Paul conollly

  2. Pingback: Ben Davies: From Surplus to Super Squad Player | Nathan's Rams Blog

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