When a new manager, or whatever you wish to name them, arrives at a club it is often followed with a resurgence on the pitch. It has been no different at Derby County after what has been a whirlwind past few weeks or so.
Don’t underestimate the magnitude of yesterday’s 3-2 victory at Watford, who are a side tipped by many for promotion. Derby brilliantly negotiated their way through a testing away match. Prior to that the second-half against Ipswich and the win over Leeds have demonstrated the Rams’ free-flowing abilities.
Currently the Hornets and the Rams are the division’s joint top scorers. 15 away league goals in just 5 league games thus far is fantastic and a huge surprise after last season’s dreadful experiences on the road. Derby are 7 goals off equaling last year’s away goals tally.
On the contrary, the side have conceded 20 goals at home and away. Buckle up a bit at the back and, without trying to curse things, there’s a genuine chance of promotion. There, said it.
One massive difference in Nigel Clough and Steve McClaren’s styles with the same side this season has been tactical nous during matches. Irrespective of your stance on Clough and his sacking, I’m sure you can agree that he has made some wrong calls and showed a reluctance to change during the course of games. Whereas McClaren has been bold and effective with his substitutions, which have paid off and turned the tide.
Steve McClaren has brought a feel good factor to supporters. Next up is Birmingham City at Pride Park and, if their 4-0 defeat to Leeds, who the Rams easily turned over recently, is anything to go by then I certainly wouldn’t bet anything other than a home victory. After that McClaren returns to QPR, where he aided Harry Redknapp as first-team coach. The visit to Loftus Road will be a real test of how far they’ve come.
Recently, Craig Bryson has clearly excelled as the team’s star man. 8 assists and 6 goals in the first 14 matches is transcendent to many other Championship midfielder’s tallies. He provided the final ball for two of the three goals at Watford yesterday. The Scotsman has showed he can not only be provider but also a goalscorer from midfield, which brings me onto Bryson’s midfield counterpart John Eustace.
John Eustace has been the catalyst for the recent wins. The ex-Sky Blues midfielder has, as I’ve mentioned recently, anchored the team into allowing Craig Bryson and Will Hughes more unrestraint to go forward.
James Bailey was awarded a squad number earlier this week. I’m sure many, like me, are delighted to hear that. Another chance for him will not just bolster the options, but additionally offer renewed hope for Bailey and hopefully have a new signing feel. I was a huge fan of the former Crewe midfielder’s during the times he was part of the side.
I can’t help but feel optimistic. Up the Rams!