Heanor Reporter

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Queens Park Rangers  2  The Rams  1

What can be said about the Rams and their away form is only repeating what has been said since September 2019. However there is one noticeable difference. The standard of performance has gone up from diabolical to unlucky, yet the hoodoo will not go. That hoodoo being that as good as they are and as dominant as they are becoming, the win insists upon eluding them. This game explains it all. The Rams were not being overrun, they were not lethargic and dormant they gave as much as they took. Both sides trying to get the win both sides needed. The R’s went into the lead from a spell of dominance  which in the game teams have to do when they are pressing the opposition. Yet the corner count was far in excess to Derby than the hosts, which goes to show who were being the more attack minded. Waghorn with a really neat header from a corner kick sent the ball into the corner of the R’s onion bag to equal the score which was just the fillip the Rams needed to get them on top to win. Alas the man to whom a lot of the credit has gone, Mr Rooney, sent a wild pass contrary to his usual style which the opposition pounced on and Hamer completely missed judged the shot and had to retrieve the ball from out of his net. From then on the chances kept coming and unfortunately most of them fell to Waghorn who just could not get that bit of luck to get a second goal for Derby In an analysis of this game every player in black gave his all and they must come off the pitch bewildered as to why they never come of triumphant on an away ground. In retrospect they did not deserve to loose yet maybe did not quite do enough class football to win.

Opinion

Again Mr Cocu changes the team players for another away game. It is reckoned that he is too technical in his thinking and concentrates too much on the style of play of the opposition than to have a style of play for his own team. Maybe he has a “game plan” and hopefully the players do as he asks, yet is the opposition playing the way he expects them to play which if they do not then his plan is defunct. Lowe was playing instead of FFForsythe or Molly Malone. Marriot was given the nod which enlightened many Ram fans yet as much as he tries it is not working for him and no one knows why, except to say he is not the tallest centre forward so why send him passes in the air? He has not shown his best all season so was it a “flash in the pan” he had last season. The idea of one man up front has failed at almost every away game this season yet Cocu insists on playing that way.  Were he to play Martin with Marriot and less emphasis on the mid field, chuck out Lawrence, and use Rooney with Bird and Knight with instructions to send the ball wide of tall centre halves then maybe chances will be forth coming., as long as Martin becomes more selfish and does more ball control for himself instead of trying to pass it off all the time. It seems that Derby labour in their build up, where as the opposition teams are more direct. Then if the direct style becomes a winning style why does Cocu insist on passing it out from the back and passing it across the full backs and occasionally send a forward pass to which the midfielder passes it back to the full back and so on when the forwards anticipating a pass to them, they see it go back to Hamer. Maybe that could be one of the major reasons why they have achieved only two away wins in the current season.

Sheffield Wednesday  1  The Rams  3

From shambolic, shameful, soulless and shabby showing of successive losses in several sporting soccer stadiums The Rams sought success in Sheffield 6 by scoring steadfastly within seven minutes to subdue Sheffield Wednesdays spirit and storm to a splendid success. There is “nowt” better for Derbyshire folk, especially North Derbyshire folk to enjoy, than getting one over “dem Dee Daa’s on dare own patch”  The owls had, at last, scored their first goal at home since the New Year a few days earlier and according to the “Crack” they were on a roll and going for automatic promotion. Mr Monk had sat them down and talked out all the problems they had endured saying the air was clear the endeavour to maintain where they left off was to continue. The whistle blew to start the game and what the Owls faithful were to endure was not to their expectation, Their team was submissive, and surrendered from the start. The Rams were superior, which  went in favour of their supporters all over joyed and confined to the Leppings Lane end. The game was being played in the Wednesday half and within seven minutes Lawrence was credited with the Rams first goal. The onslaught continued and from a determined tackle by Martin to win the ball and head for the Owls goal he passed it to Lawrence who said “thanks” and plonked it in the required onion bag once again. The onslaught never lost its venom with the Owls being made to look second rate. Knight who again showed fantastic potential took the ball wide in the penalty area and from an acute angle put the ball once again in the required place for the Rams third goal. Wednesday were in disarray, and destroyed by the Rams who were playing as a team with every one giving off their best. The second half began in the fashion every one expected. Derby had to defend, and defend they did, It was a game of two halves. The owls were determined to get something out of the game, the Rams were determined to stop them, and they did. Although Windass got a consolation for the Owls the Rams were by far the better team showing that when they want to attack they can score and when called upon to defend they are just as potent.

Opinion

Three away successes have now been achieved by Derby County, and from the submissive showing at the beginning of the season to the super show at Sheffield the difference is substantial, and significant. Criticism about the style, the set up and the abject way the players have performed was warranted yet, now they have decided to show their mettle, the correct results have come about. They have suffered so much away from home they must be truly sick of not having the nous and ability to overcome the inability to be winners. It could be a mental issue it could be the way the players are sent out to play the game plan, or it could be that the hosts just want to beat Derby County and lift themselves for the occasion. There are a myriad of reasons, and there has been the same situation at home although defeats have been to the minimum. Changes and injuries and off the field problems have not done them any favours yet the players who have been called upon to fill the vacancies have not always proved themselves. On the other hand the influx from the under 23’s has been a positive move and has to be continued. Bird, Knight, Bogle and Lowe are all part of the first team with Whittaker and Sibley in the wings. That is six players who may be all first team regulars very soon. That is about fifty percent of a team which Mr Melvyn Morris has wanted for 2020 / 21 season. If the up coming game at Pride Park give the “unexpected” result and the Rams march on then the end of the season will be as enjoyable as the end of last season. Leys hope it is.

The Rams 0  Manchester United  3   FA Cup 4th Round

The end result is known yet where is the beginning to discuss the onset of this game. Every Ram fan must have dropped the bottom lip when Cocu’s choice of players was announced. In reality he had chosen a Derby County second eleven to face a squad of Red Devils whose 3rd eleven would suffice. Credit goes to Solskjær who did not belittle the FA Cup competition and put out a squad which can do justice and win the cup. Not so Cocu. A typical foreign manager who has no allegiance to an English cup tradition.  So it was, yet to be fair the lads that wore those new style shirts did their utmost for the excited fans who did show their patriotism. What they saw was a spectacle of two great footballers vying for top spot. That being Rooney firing two really good free kicks at the red nets and a really top notch goalkeeper denying him glory. The one pleasing factor was that although United played keep ball it was not a game of one team having all the play whilst the other played defensive all the while. The Rams had their moments. Sibly a player who will be a huge favourite was a thorn in the side of the United defence and they had to stop him by fair means and foul. Especially in the first half when he had a clear run before being disgustingly fouled. In fact all the players Cocu chose did not disgrace themselves, yet why does he have to play one man on the front row, even at home. This never works yet he insists on playing it. Bogle gets a black mark for his stupid passing when getting into a good position to send a decent pass into the penalty box, he blasts it as hard as he can over every one or into the crowd. Such play has to be condemned. Lawrence took a thwack and left the field not to be missed. Whittaker is finding it awkward to get involved. Marriot was given a chance yet he needs a forward assistant to win the high ball pass for them to roll it for him to do his job. He is not a loner forward. In retrospect Derby were the underdogs yes, but they were not disgraced. Those fans who keep braying to get premiership status must have realised that the Rams players are on the up yet not far enough on the up to compete with the likes of Manchester United.

Opinion

When this game is analysed and dissected and digested and a conclusion reached, the result will be that they must realise that those players who they met in the game were, at one time, at the same stage as the Rams are now, yet they improved and improved until they got to the standard they are at. Hence then, there is only one course of action for them to take and that is get down to it if they want to be successful and practice and practice both individually and as a team. It is no good thinking the United were too good for them, the thinking has to be “if they can do it, then so can we” The lads who have risen from the U23’s have great potential so they have to maintain this and get better if they want to play in the premiership for Derby County. There have been too many come through the academy then been sold to premiership clubs, and from the proceeds Derby have bought lesser crafted players and remained static. Maybe Cocu has a weird way of choosing his teams and maybe he upsets a lot of the Ram faithful, and maybe it backfired on him choosing the wrong players, yet from this weird way he now knows who he can call on and develop. It is not to everyone’s way of thinking and he could possibly create some unrest, yet if a player who is being paid well and cannot be bothered to equal his remuneration to his performance then it is, in the Derby dialect “On yer bike” The jury may be out to decide if Cocu’s management will be a successful tenure, only time will tell. Next season tickets are now on sale so the demand for them may be an indicator as to how much faith Cocu has within the Derby fan base.

The Rams  3  Blackburn Rovers  0

Just for a change of routine twenty six thousand football fans piled into Pride Park on a Sunday afternoon hoping to enjoy a Championship game rearranged owing to Derby County playing a game on the previous Thursday evening. Much to their chagrin team changes were afoot with the squad much praised for their endeavours against Manchester United disassembled and others taking their places with the omission of Rooney being most significant. The fans hopes were uplifted when they saw Sibley chosen and Martin back on the front line. Blackburn noted for their wanting to dominate from the start and to gain a quick advantage showed they were all for it and for the first ten minutes silence fell within the Derby fan contingent watching their team being put under the cosh. Then the Rams began to get a grip and started to show they too can play good football when they want to. Sibley was doing what he enjoys doing yet being held up by a fussy referee, that is until from a neat pass to him about five yards out of the penalty area he ran onto the ball and lashed it past a helpless goal keeper for one of the best goals scored at Pride Park this season. The whole Derby fan base were over thrilled to see the spectacle and cheered and cheered. This was his first goal for Derby County and it was just absolutely fabulous. Blackburn tried to gain equality yet the defence of the Rams denied them. About ten minutes after the sensational goal Shinnie fired in a great shot that the goalkeeper could only parry to the feet of Marin who duly obliged to make it two for the Rams. The Rams were now dominant and with a little more panache Waghorn given two good chances could have made it four except for the first chance being stopped by the goal keeper and the second when he rounded the ‘keeper to see his shot bounce of the upright and into the ‘keepers hands. In the second half Blackburn wanted to get something from the game yet Derby stood resolute and only had the occasional raid into the Rovers half alas they were not as potent as they were in the first half. Knight showed his usual style and in one raid he was brought down in the penalty area to win a penalty which Martin scored from with apomb. In the last minute a Rover player did a real nasty tackle on Davis and “saw red”. All in all this was a steady performance from the Rams and a deserved win for them.

Opinion

The defence of the Rams makes the heart beat, not from excitement, from panic, owing to the hesitation they are more than capable of giving. Clarke with the ball at his feet and the forwards ready to go does a turn about and passes to Hamer in goal, Wisdom (captain Wisdom?) passes the ball so weakly the opposition pounce on to the pass and the defence is under pressure. Such silly passing and sloppy play is why the heart beats of the crowd increase. Back passes are so frustrating for the watching fans that they jeer the players for their lack of thought. Bogle again when he has to send a pass into the penalty area sends it over the top of every one and out of play. On the other hand there is Bird who must be a player of the season contender being brilliant almost all of the time. Knight also and the great entertainer Sibley along with Martin who can be called “phoenix Martin” from the way he has come back from the cold. The style of play or the game plan is now coming through the mist of poor performances. It is simple and can be worked out. They start slowly from the back and then send it across the full backs until the pass to such as Bird, Knight or Rooney who then run the space and hopefully send a forward pass to the forwards to get the goals. This system can be read and it is becoming more obvious in every game. All that is needed is for the passing to be more accurate and the players to be more skilful to dribble around the opposition. To consider the team can reach the play off’s just because all the training and hard work over the season is showing through has to be forgotten. Just to concentrate on the game plan and accustom the young players to the championship football has to be the paramount priority. Keep the senior players who are more than capable of a couple of more seasons, find a fully competent goal keeper and a fullback, then get to where Mr Mel Morris wants the club to be.