There are just six games remaining in the 2012/13 campaign for Derby now, starting with hosting Ipswich Town tomorrow. Three consecutive victories have lifted spirits and have meant a rise up in the league table, even raising optimistic hopes of reaching the play-offs amongst some supporters.
A top ten finish would probably be considered progress by the club to coincide with their vision of yearly improvement, which has angered some fans. I certainly think that’s achievable but just a couple of draws or defeats and that probably won’t be the case, the Championship is mad this season. Equally, a couple more wins and Derby could be right up there and fighting for a place in the top six. The Rams would probably want to be better equipped to be in the play-offs but there’s no doubt they’d take it. However it’s probably better that the top six ambitions are quietened down as it’s important that, first and foremost, the season’s finished properly and approached correctly – Nigel Clough’s side are only seven points above the relegation spots, the same number of points they’re off the play-offs too, so must be careful to ensure they aren’t dragged into the relegation dog fight, which looks set to go right to the bitter end.
As he has been before, I’m sure Nigel Clough will be looking to give a couple of youngsters a chance to shine in the latter couple of games if the Rams aren’t battling at either end of the table and have little to play for. With the youth team flying high after a recent FA Youth Cup run there are likely to be a few knocking on the first-team door, such as defender Jamie Hanson.
The highly competitive league reaches its climax next month and is definitely the best league for shocks and drama, anyone can beaten anyone – it’s consistency that’ll decide your destiny in the Championship. At Pride Park, Derby have looked very dangerous and, in fact, have a better home record than three of the four clubs in the play-offs. Unfortunately, the away results haven’t matched the home results with two of the three current clubs in the drop zone having a better away record than the Rams. Instead of thinking back at all the ifs, buts and maybes let’s focus on finishing the season strongly and building a better squad for more of a sustained push next season. I don’t buy any of the ‘we haven’t had our rub of the green this season’ comments because, in this league, luck swings in roundabouts and, on occasions, you make your own luck.
Anyway, tomorrow’s home game is against 17th placed Ipswich, who are far from safe, just three points above the bottom three. Since former-Wolves boss Mick McCarthy arrived he’s steadied the ship a bit more, managing to steer them out of the relegation zone. They’re currently on a four game unbeaten run and are not to be underestimated. The ninth win from nine over Leeds United on Monday will hopefully mean confidence is high amongst Nigel Clough’s squad.
Come on you Rams!