Tomorrow the Rams take on promotion chasing Blackpool.
Blackpool have slipped down the table recently to 12th, just one place and one point above Derby. The Tangerines have won just one of their last five matches, whilst Derby also have picked up one win from the last ten games. Pool are without a win since 2 October.
The Seasiders boast a lot of quality attacking players in their locker that could hurt the Rams’ defence. Thomas Ince and Matt Phillips are among those players, Ince’s bagged six goals this campaign and picked up six assists. Ince did score at Pride Park last season. It’s quite likely that Pool will play and set out in an attacking formation and style.
They’ve enjoyed a very successful period in their history recently.
2009/10: Blackpool, against all odds, crept in the Play-Offs in 6th place on the final day of the season after starting the season as favourites for relegation to League One. Watching them take on Nottingham Forest in the Play-Offs turned out to be very pleasant for Derby fans looking to wind up Forest fans. Pool booked a place at Wembley after a 6-4 aggregate victory, former Ram loanee DJ Campbell struck a hat-trick in the game at the City Ground. Ian Holloway became a hero after his side beat favourites Cardiff 3-2 in a thrilling Play-Off final. That campaign the Rams drew a blank with Blackpool at Bloomfield road and were defeat 0-2 at Pride Park.
2010/11: The Seasiders were the bookies’ favourites to go down and some thought they may even break a few of the Rams’ terrible records that the club picked up in the disastrous 2007/08 season. Much to many’s surprise, they put up a real fight picking up some wonderful results on the way. The club played with a style that just went for the game often playing three strikers, not men behind the ball as you might expect when a relegation scrapping club take on one of the league’s title contenders. I quite admired their style, however on occasions it didn’t work. On the last day of the season a 4-2 defeat at Old Trafford relegated the club, finishing with 39 points which was just one point away from 17th placed Wolves.
2011/12: As you’d expect they lost a few players following relegation, including midfield maestro Charlie Adam. Blackpool came very close to going back up at the first time of asking, storming into the league’s Play-Offs. Ian Holloway’s side defeated Birmingham City in the semi-finals and then descended on Wembley for the final once again. West Ham proved too much for a spirited Pool and the club were back to square one, having to start again in the Championship this season.
There’s no denial that Ian Holloway has done a fantastic job at Bloomfield Road since arriving in 2009 but yesterday manager-less Crystal Palace made an official approach in the hope of bringing the former-Leicester boss to Selhurst Park. Palace chairman Steve Parish has however said “An approach has been made but it’s far from done”. Holloway faces talks with Pool chairman Karl Oyston today. We’ll see if he is in the Pride Park dugout tomorrow come 3pm. That’d be a step down if he goes, surely? Particularly with their recent success and Palace’s lack of it. Holloway could probably get away with a not so good season with the Tangerines because of what he’s done in the past but maybe at at a fairly big club like Palace he possibly won’t be able to do that. Of course money can play a factor in a move.
Last season Derby enjoyed two impressive victories over the Tangerines. The 1-0 win at Bloomfield Road saw Craig Bryson bag his first Rams goal and Derby continue an excellent start to the campaign. That game also saw Jeff Hendrick make his first senior start. In the return fixture at Pride Park, Steve Davies bagged himself a brace in a 2-1 win.
On the team front, Derby will be boosted by the return of 2011/12 player of the year Craig Bryson. The midfielder missed last week’s defeat at Peterborough with a tight hamstring. Unfortunately top goalscorer Jamie Ward is likely to remain sidelined. Jake Buxton’s red card means he’ll miss this game with Mark O’Brien, Valentin Gjokaj and James O’Connor the candidates to step in (see the poll). James O’Connor is expected to be the one lining up, especially with Mark O’Brien only just returning to match sharpness after a long spell on the sidelines.
Nigel Clough’s side go into the match on the back of a dismal display at London Road last week, can the Rams put that right by picking up the points tomorrow?
Come On You Rams!