“We’re trying to get four strikers of a good quality on the books and with Chris Martin, Jamie Ward and Conor Sammon here for next season, we are now looking to bring one more in” Nigel Clough’s words on the current situation up top.
The Rams began the season opting to start Jamie Ward alongside Nathan Tyson, however that was prior to Conor Sammon’s arrival. Once Sammon had arrived it was mainly him that was given a regular starting role, often with Ward up until his injury and then with the in and out Theo Robinson and Nathan Tyson.
Chris Martin came in February from Norwich on loan, this came after both Robinson and Tyson left the club on loan and in search of more frequent first-team football. The 24-year-old came into the club during a spell where wins were tough to come by and he made a decent impact – he seemed like a breath of fresh air in the side. However, after a few games in, and in a sticky patch of form for Derby, he began to seem quite an ordinary striker.
During his time on loan with the club, towards the latter end of the season, Martin didn’t come across as a natural goalscorer. However, the former-England Under-19 international’s link-up play seemed good and he worked hard. When he was alongside Sammon, goals were few and far between. Having said that, the chances were there. Ward was mostly out on the wing during this time.
I can’t say I was over the moon at Derby swooping quickly to make Chris Martin a permanent signing but, equally, I wasn’t disappointed. I see him as a good squad player, maybe not a week-in week-out reliable starter and certainly not the answers to the prayers of that twenty goals a season striker.
With Sammon, I can definitely see him scoring more goals in the forthcoming campaign. His first season was quite a transition, at Wigan he was an extremely rare starter, whereas with the Rams, he’s been a very regular starter. In addition to that, increasing pressure from some supporters can’t have done him many favours. I still can’t see him scoring twenty goals or more but I do sight a better return than the eight he scored during his first season. Alongside a natural finisher, the former-Wigan striker could complement their finishing with his work ethic for the ball and ability to bully defenders, creating space for his strike partner.
Jamie Ward is a figure that seems quite untouchable with some Rams fans. However I do admire Jamie, even for his passion against Nottingham Forest alone! In terms of his play, he’s by far the club’s most effective player. The ex-Blade bagged 12 goals and 9 assists in 26 matches in the season, which ended twenty days ago for Nigel Clough’s Rams. The question is, which position should he play? Ward has featured as left-midfielder and striker for Derby but maybe he’ll be consistently involved in more of a rotation. If the one more striker that Clough is looking to bring in does arrive then maybe it’ll limit Jamie to the wing and put Sammon alongside the new addition? I think that’s how it’ll mostly go.
In terms of departing strikers, Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson have both been transfer-listed with a year to go on their contracts. I have to say I was a little disappointed that Tyson didn’t gain more starts earlier in the season because he was finally getting amongst the goals after a tough first year. With Theo, if he does leave I won’t be at all disappointed to see the back of him. I know he scored but during open play I’ve not been a fan at all. It’ll be interesting to see where they move on to, if they leave. Both of their respective loan spells brought nothing more than the minutes they were getting at Derby.
Here are further comments from manager Clough.
“We have four or five names on our list and we’re looking to get one of those through the door this summer. We’ll work our way through those but there’s no time frame on it, we may well have to be patient.A few players we are talking to want to see what’s out there first and they’re entitled to do that. We are in there competing though and can offer them a good deal, as well as Moor Farm (training facilities) and a great set of lads. The plan is to rotate our forwards a little bit more next season to make sure they’re a bit fresher and allow them to have a greater impact in matches, whether that’s from the start or coming off the bench.”
I just hope that whoever arrives is of the highest standard the club can get. A striker that has more of a natural ability to finish off the many, many chances the Rams can create is what we’ve been discussing. I’m reserving judgement on whoever arrives until we see them play.
As I’ve said before, it really is an interesting summer for Derby. I’m sure there’s plenty more to unfold with plenty of time to go until the big kick-off.
Up the Rams!