Guest article by Michael Gabriel.
That moment at around quarter to five on May 24 will have stuck sore in the hearts of Derby County fans, players, and staff over the summer. After what had been an imperious second half of the season, it was cut prematurely just moments from time by QPR’s Bobby Zamora.
It’s a moment all Rams fans want to forget, and there’s no better way of doing that than with a winning start to the new campaign come August 9 when they take on Rotherham at Pride Park.
There’s no reason they shouldn’t. The club will of course have to pick themselves after last year’s last gasp defeat, but it could be just the inspiration they need to go one further this time around, and with the club keeping hold of the nucleus of a strong squad, it’s more than a possibility.
Boss Steve McClaren has managed to get the likes of Craig Bryson, Jake Buxton, Craig Forsyth, and Will Hughes signed up to a long term contracts, whilst the likes of George Thorne coming in on a permanent basis alongside a host of other youngsters from Europe, Derby are fast becoming one of the most feared sides in the Championship.
The club are second favourites to win the league next season, which is testament to McClaren who took over the club 14th in the division last September.
It’s certainly a bet worth taking on, particularly in-play. According to a Freebets and Coral Q & A, in-play is becoming extremely popular with results and goal scorers being the two leaders – and with the Rams banging in more than anyone else in the Championship last season, we won’t be far short of goal scorers.
Chris Martin hit 25 last time out and with a hat-trick already tallied this pre-season in a 3-1 win over Notts County, he looks as though he’s carried his form over. Martin will of course be instrumental in County’s season as will Craig Bryson, who will be battling for a place in the midfield.
The depth McClaren has added means there’s competition for places all over the pitch, which is only good news for the club. Bryson himself has welcomed the challenge, telling the Burton Mail, “To do well in the Championship you have to have a quality squad because the games come thick and fast. We have got a quality squad here at Derby.”
Quality is what Derby has in abundance this term, and with McClaren at the helm, the boys of Pride Park seem a shoe in to be there or there abouts again come May 2015.