Past Heanor reporters

Huddersfield Town 1 The Rams 2
After suffering watching all the championship teams, bar two, play their opening games of the new season it came to the moment the Rams did likewise at the John Smiths stadium. Every Ram fan had mixed feelings in so far as who would be chosen, how would they get on against last years premiership players, because having not done too well in pre season games can they show some valid improvement. A new manager who is also to enjoy a baptism in championship football, has to show some fortitude and determination. Thus the obvious question was how would the Rams fare. Ninety minutes later and the answer was, very much to the delight of every Ram Fan, fantastic. The game started with the Rams showing no fear, no timidity and no respect for the Terriers. They began to command the game giving Huddersfield no time on the ball and making them look second best and anxious. What was eye catching was that every player in the new away black coloured shirt was on top of their game. So much so they forced error after error within their opponents which culminated in Elphick trying to pass back to his goalkeeper in an unorthodox way making his goalkeeper dash out of his goal to try to head the ball away which he did directly Lawrence who without a thought lofted the ball over everyone around to watch it bounce into the waiting, vacant, onion bag. This was great to watch and what was more delightful was that Lawrence had improved 99% from his last ventures. So much so that two minutes later whith a deft movement and just enough space for the ball to pass through a crowd of players he slammed it past a despairing Terriers goalkeeper again into the onion bag for the Rams second goal. What could be better? Huddersfield had no real reply for the remaining time of the second half except for when Dowell trying to deny (another) Dutchman Bacuna inside the penalty area did it illegally and from the misdemeanour Grant sent the ball to his right whilst Roos dived to the left. Rams fans were deflated and a little anxious as to whether this would inspire there opponents. The obvious problem was that the Terriers were playing premiership style football where they have time to play the ball without being hassled, and Derby were hassling, which was good for Derby. It came to pass that Huddersfield were much improved in the second half and created some worrying moments for the Rams. The game began to play more in Derby’s half yet they remained solid. Huddersfield created a few good opportunities non more so than when a cross found the Terriers leading goal scorer from last season, he had four to his name, and a gaping goal missed sensationally to land the ball into the back of row Z much to the delight of the 1,863 travelling fans plus the television viewers. The end came with three points to Derby, well deserved and won with aplomb.

The end result was what was wanted and it was achieved with a steady and well worked game. Obviously early days and more will be realised after about ten or so games, however at the end of the ninety minutes no one could voice criticism to any of the players. Odd to say that Lawrence must have played one of his best games for Derby and has to stay within the same form. The new man Clarke making his debut looked as if he had played there for years, Dowell and Evans did not shine to brightly yet got on to doing what they were supposed to do. Even Huddleston was more deliberate and remained in his position. Waghorn worried and hassled and was unlucky not to get a goal, only a good save by the opposing goalkeeper denying him. Flo Jo died off in the second half although not too potent in the first half. Bogle, Keogh and Roos all showed their mettle. Bennett came on for Flo Jo and again did what he did with his usual gussto. Knight got a few moments in place of Dowell. Mr Cocu must be pleased with his squad for they showed they could be a team to be wary off this season. Cocu seems to be the sort of manager that is firmly fixed on one style of play which came to the fore. Last season the back four with the inclusion of Huddleston insisted on passing it square to each other until they were hustled out of it and were under the cosh. It was pleasing to see that this silly stuff was not apparent in this game so he has eliminated it. There was more intent on sending the ball forward and the midfield players collecting the knock downs either from opponents or the Derby forwards. The style, or game plan was very much different to what we have seen in past seasons. It was also notable that the mangers and staff were in black suits and ties, so Derby do not have a “track suit manager”. Lastly what is in the air is the name Wayne Rooney. If this person comes to Derby will it be for the better or the worse? Surely when we have a manager wanting to create a team from the academy and bringing on good well developed players why upset the apple cart to employ an has been just for the self egoistic delight of Rooney. Let him go back to Manchester or Everton. Can Derby in all realism afford him and his entourage?

Wednesday August 7th 2019 09.30
So, the news has broken that Wayne Rooney will be a Ram in the year of 2020. Will this be a good move for Derby County or and adverse appointment. If the team was to improve by the end of 2019 and be in contention for either promotion, Caraboa Cup and a reasonable draw in the FA cup would the inclusion of a 33 year old egoistic footballer be at the expense of maybe Waghorn, Marriot, even Lawrence or Holmes or Dowell from midfield; create an imbalance within the team work that Cocu and his aids had worked diligently to create? Within the last few days 28 persons have viewed this web site, hence there may be 28 different opinions over this enrolment plus many, many more, so why not let the world know how YOU see this inclusion of Wayne Rooney into the Rams pen. You are invited to write your opinion to today so that the Heanor Rams fans and their followers can read your views. It will be very interesting to know who welcomes this appointment and why and those who consider it to be one huge publicity stunt which will die a death after or before the eighteen month gestation period of his contract. As one wag remarked is the number seven shirt being held back for David Beckham. We have suffered the Lampard come and go publicity will this be another “Flash in the pan” for our football club? Your considerations are now awaited.

The Rams 0 Swansea City 0
This was one of those games that was given seven minutes extra time yet had it been seventy minutes extra time the dour way the Rams played would give the same end result. It was impossible to count how many silly daft passes went astray, it was impossible to count how many silly errors almost all of the Ram fraternity managed to make. In comparison to the way they played at Huddersfield this was appalling. There was no determination, no agression, no individual committment, only one player Bogle showed the mettle he has, the others just watched and passed the ball as if it was not their turn to have it. Such was the apathy that when given a penalty Waghorn, usually reliable in such occasions, scuffed his kick for the goal keeper to stop him scoring, and that epitomises the whole show that Derby County gave at Pride Park. There was nothing to note that can be mentioned which will give the impression the team played well, because they did not. Lawrence introduced as Super Lawrence lived up to his reputation of playing fifteen percent of his ability, where the tag super comes from is a mystery. Jo Flo did show some of his ability yet he is too fragile for English championship football. Evans is not a midfielder and never will be. Huddleston is to donkey now and enjoys too much time in the back four. Obviously Cocu is now watching his employees playing under the proper conditions and not taking stock from the every day training. It becomes very difficult to distinguish whether a player can be effective on a Saturday as well as from Monday to Friday on the training ground. It is on match days when it counts and in this game none came up to the mark required.

Cocu and his cohorts will need to get their heads together and begin to sort the wheat from the chaff. The mid field he chooses is pathetic. Not one followed up to get a knock down from the opposition yet Swansea playing five at the back five in midfield with one loose up front won all the loose passes in the middle of the park. Their style of play was far superior to the Rams who just had no idea or even no one to break their way through. All the time they wanted to pass the ball even when they had room and space to take it themselves and try to make something happen. It was as if they were all being watched intensively and were so nervously tight they were afraid to make a mistake, and by being in that emotional state they did every thing wrong. A trip to sunny Scunthorpe might alleviate a lot of the tension if the chosen squad decide to relax and show some class and skill which they are supposed to have and put a few goals past those Iron men.
Scunthorpe United 0 v The Rams 1 Caraboa Cup
No report on this game owing to the Heanor Reporter enjoying a respite from football and enjoying a weeks holiday in North Yorkshire. However the most intriguing issue to come from this competition is the next opponents in round two, Nottingham Forest. Will it be reserves verses reserves or first team verses first team?

Stoke City 2 The Rams 2
If a graph was drawn showing performance against time in this game then the line would begin at the top of the page, slowly dipping towards twenty minutes then taking a dive for the next twenty five minutes. The second half maybe the line will be half way up and wavering for a while until a big dive at about sixty minutes, then for the remaining period it will waver yet the trend would be upwards. From another view point it is baffling how Mr Cocu and his cohorts seem to work, for it seems to go against normality. The Rams have two left footed players playing left back and right back, Malone and Lowe. Malone is taken off, so Flo Jo is put to left back and he is right footed. The midfield seems to be any where and not playing with confidence or cohesion, Lawrence is more intent on using his fists than using his feet and deservedly pulled off, yet why does he always seem to get the start? If this squad was compared to a six cylinder combustion engine then only four cylinders are giving consistent power. Maybe Cocu is experimenting against the Championship teams to see and realise who is wanting to be man of the match and those who think they are good enough to get the start yet only go through the motions for ninety minutes. The back four defenders can be relied upon for at least ninety five percent of the time. The midfield has a mixture of good intent and poor intent the forwards on paper look dangerous yet with out Waghorn would be more insipid than water. It is heart rendering to watch certain players giving all they have to be let down by a gross lack of concentration and personal ability from other team mates. The “chaff” will be discarded no doubt eventually, yet until then performances and results will be as wavering as the Atlantic Ocean in a force ten gale.

Mr Cocu is doing his job in an uncanny way. he is picking the same players every game and watching them play the same way every game which may or may not be contrary to his methods. Then taking off certain players to put on others to consider if he is watching what he wants to see. It is a little technical and maybe baffling to the ordinary football fan, yet the end result in the new year may become fruitful. It is quite obvious that the whole set up of teams within the Derby County Football Club will have to play to the same game plan Mr Cocu has initiated so that any of the younger lads called upon to the first team should know his job. What about those “first teamers” who are on the outside looking in. Martin, Wisdom, Forsythe, Thorne, and Anya. to name a few. Can it be that their way of playing or their attitude is not to Cocu’s liking? or that their age is against them. This must be a difficult situation for both the players and the manager. It cannot be a pleasant position to be in to go to train every day and to be ignored by the boss, and to see younger lads getting the nod to get on the bus to away games. Human emotions must come to the fore, which can determine the individual to either accept his demise or show determination to be one of the chosen, or is it they give the younger lads the benefit of their experience and slot into the training programme that way. What ever the outcome is, it can either boost the squad to better heights or it may deter progress. During past seasons the fans have enjoyed Martin scoring, Thorne being dominant, Forsythe being a sturdy left back, Anya’s pace and occasionally Wisdom doing the right thing. However if Cocu has no need for them what is their future? No doubt all will be revealed eventually. In the meantime the chosen few will have no alternative than to do what they are asked off or else their name may be added to the aforementioned list.

The Rams 1 Bristol City 2
This was not a game to recall for any other reason than to see Jack Marriot do what he enjoys doing and what 25,000 fans enjoy watching him do. Apart from that the display that the Rams put on was abysmal. To say they gave the ball to the opposition too many times is an understatement, to say that certain players need to sharpen up is an understatement, and to ay that the style of play or game plan is working is more than an understatement. To take a good analytical assessment it is noticeable that Mr Cocu watches his brood practice daily and from this he decides who will start the next game. All that can be said from this is the whole brood must be showing signs of wanting to be chosen yet when that referee blows to start the game the majority of those in black and white shut off. From this attitude by the chosen few Mr Cocu now knows who will and who will not wear a shirt in the forthcoming fixtures. The result as much as it matters is irrelevant it is those players whose non commitment is producing the poor performance or who is producing a determined performance that is parramount. It is too easy to criticise players or pick out who was on form and who was not on form, yet this has to be done to name and shame. Malone is number one, Lawrence is number two and Huddleston is number three to be eliminated from the next game. Why? Malone played as if he was still an under 14 and sent the ball anywhere because he had no acumen to do other wise. Lawrence he is an enigma. He is playing on his fortune he had at Huddersfield. He allows his emotions to control himself and will not show any determination with quality and skill. He wants to be man of the match yet do nothing to earn it. Huddleston seeks praise by just standing still and sending the pass to wherever. He cannot collect the ball, run with it to pull an opponent out so as to make space for a team mate. He is absolutely too static. Number four to name is Keogh. Count how many times he will stand still with the ball at his feet looking where to send it then send a stupid square pass to Clarke or Lowe. Never sends a forward killer pass, maybe similar to the Robins over the back defenders, and he is the captain to inspire the team. Inspire the team? no way. Cocu keeps changing the system at half time because the original system is failing. So if the system changes and the team begins to improve as it did against the Robins then surely he knows how the team performs so why not begin a game with that system and get the Rams up and running from the start of a game instead of waiting until they are two goals down and change it after forty five minures?

The Derby fans will pay their money to watch shambolic performances quite a few times within the next few months. The players at Cocu’s disposal are of a standard good enough to compete against any of the championship rivals yet for some mysterious reason they will not do it. This mystery has to be solved and the sooner the better. Could it be that as much as we read or listen that the camaraderie within the club is good yet in reality it is to the opposite and that certain players have a reluctance to either play with each other or refuse to pass the ball to a team mate who is disliked. It appears at times this is most obvious. It also come to the fore that before they take to the field the team is instructed on how to play and so forth yet as they cross the white line these matter are tossed aside and the individual intrinsic way they want to play is adopted hence the whole team plan falls apart and they look a ragged outfit. At times managers try to be too technical not really understanding that from a very early age footballers were coached to play their chosen position in a certain way. Along comes a new manager and “tells” players to do this, that and the other, when it is contrary to the coaching they have received from day one when they put on a pair of football boots. Thus they are befuddled as to where they should be and where they are during the game. Just watch some Derby players and this comes apparent. For instance, Malone whose position is left back was seen playing centre mid field, he lost the ball and his patch is bear for the Bristol team to exploit. Being aware of a situation during the game is another. Flo Jo had the ball at his feet, the Robins goal keeper was completely out of his goals, the crowd shouted “shoot” Flo Jo passed the ball back to Keogh. This epitomises where the thinking and awareness of Derby players and coaching falls apart. Who takes the flack from such situations, it is the management whilst the player is allowed to carry on regardless. Put a similar scenario in a factory environment and the errant worker would be on the outside of the gates.

The Rams 1 West Bromwich Albion
In retrospect to the last home game the Rams showed a bit more determination endeavour and enthusiasm, yet they still misfire with Huddleston and Lawrence. If Huddleston was taken to one side and told it is not illegal to get a pass and run with the ball to draw an opponent to create space for a team mate there is no doubt his reply would be “Is it” The same applies to Lawrence. Were he told that it is a custom in the game of football to challenge for the ball when an opponent has it and to remain in a position to such a degree you are making yourself available to gather a pass instead of being in some one else’s position, then no doubt his reaction would be a blank expression. Both need to be omitted from this team to give other players the opportunity to thrive and improve the teams performance. When all is said and done had there been more flair from these two positions then both the performance of the team and the score would be much different. (Our) Jack Marriot, the crowds favourite, got his first start and once again proved his worth although not on the score sheet. Waghorn was both master and villain for winning and scoring a penalty then missing from the spot later on. In between times the new faces, Buchanon and Knight gave a good account of themselves and given a few more starts and free of injury then Derby have two more starlets. The results are not too good yet whilst the display and better football are being played there is hopeful anticipation. The Baggies are a good experience bunch and they showed their acumen for most of the game yet to say that Derby matched them using “raw” recruits is a proud statement. All in all it was a good encounter and the score reflects the equality of both teams. From this game the new lads have to take credit for they did not let themselves or the team down. The only draw back was the silly substitutions Cocu made by bringing off both the strikers and going to a 4 – 5 – 1 formation then the Baggies equalised and the Rams had only Bennett on the front row to try for a winner. It was reminiscent of those Clough’s days and that failed.
Have you ever watched the Rams squad “warm up” before a game? They go through the same routine every time without fail. When Bristol City were at Pride park their system was geared up to one prominent and obvious system and it came through in their game hence the win. They did a sequence of passing the ball at speed which needed total concentration. It was interesting to watch and it was obvious that it was intended to keep the players minds alert and focused on the practice and watching the ball whilst on the move. The eyes then went to Derby County and they were prancing up and down the touch line as if it was the opening of a revue show on Blackpool Central pier theatre. They have become so accustomed to this routine that they are brain dead. Look to see who is in front and who trails. It is as if there is a pecking order. For ages it has always the same chap taking this routine and he must be the fittest person in Pride Park, yet his system is archaic, and is in dire need of a shake up. After the prancing they have a short one touch game then shooting practice, which again take note if they fail to find the goals they have no self shame they just shrug it off. The conclusion is their minds are closed from the very beginning and it come through in the beginning of the game. They have to force themselves to be motivated yet in comparison Bristol City who were lively and full of running right from the start. One other interesting point which is more humerous. We hear the South stand “choir” singing their ditties yet the most baffling question is. Who is the choir master to lead them into their songs? Answers please.
Nottingham Forest 3 The Rams 0
So, it was not to be a successful evening in Nottingham, and after the game was it any wonder when the squad chosen to play were not as worldly wise as the Red squad. Yet give credit where it is needed they tried, and if they try they do not bring disrespect on themselves or the club. It cannot be easy to be playing at under 23 level in front of a meagre crowd then to be plunged into a senior game with twenty five thousand baying for blood at the City ground.. For example seventeen year old Louie Sibley took to the field and from that fifty or so minutes he must have aged about two years and now knows just what he has to achieve. The same applies to Whittaker who had the good chance in the first half only to blaze the ball over the bar, alas a bit to eager to score, yet lets hope it does him no harm to be a little more steady for his next chance. As a whole the team played a little too bunched up and obviously showed their inexperience of playing the senior type of football. However how does any footballer learn if he is not given the opportunity to play against older wiser and crafted players. When it is analysed Cocu has done the right thing to play the lads who he chose. He is new to the squad of footballers under his wing, he sees them play against each other Monday to Friday yet he has to watch them as they play different opposition on Saturdays. He has to decide who is the most mentally aware, physically aware, and skilled to the desire that suits him. From this game he too has become more familiar with his squad and how they perform. Hence why he is giving all of them the chance to have their name on the next team sheet. He is working out his players, whilst not really going for the desired result. Ram fans obviously do not like to lose against the Reds yet, there are two more fixtures forthcoming and will it be no surprise to see a different squad and a better result in both these encounters, thanks to this game from which Cocu learnt his first lesson in local derbys.
It is a shame that the Caraboa cup draw put these two teams together. In reality neither club were happy for this fixture, yet had no option than to play the game. Cocu used this game to watch his reserves plus a few “young uns” so from it he can draw a few conclusions as to who will be his regular twenty or so for the season. He is noted for his willingness to give the younger lads a chance to shine and if they mix well with the older players the object of his intentions is met. Bogle is proof that the academy is doing a fine job, the results of the under twenty three’s last season proves this as well, so why should these willing lads be left floundering and waiting watching their older counterparts being chosen to play, just because they are older. It does not follow that the older players are better players. It must be daunting to see the club paying “ex” pounds for one player and taking up the position an Under 23 had visions of playing in. Cocu may know players who can do a job for him yet it may be short lived for many players have come to Pride Park to sit in the comfort zone ensuring that Derby County pay their demands then do not give enough respect and willingness back. The results may not be to the expectation of many, many Ram fans at the present time, however the performance of the first squad is slowly and steadily improving. Cocu knows which of his squad are not pulling their weight and who is, so it will come as a shock to certain players to find themselves on the outside looking in very soon. Cocu seems to come across as a manager who managers, and not as a “one of the lads” managers. A shovel is a shovel in his eyes, not a dust pan!Lastly, Derby County have been usurped in Leeds. From the last encounter with Leeds United when the Rams put the Whites in their proper place, a few miles down the road from Elland Road at a venue called Headingly along came a chap named Stokes and by using a piece of willow wood he hit a leather ball scoring enough points to give his country team what many claimed was an equally good job on those “Bruces “. Alas they no longer talk of the demolition job the Rams initiated in West Yorkshire.
Brentford 3 The Rams 0
Everyone at some time in their lives has had a good reason to be enthusiastic to do something whether it be get ready to go to a show, to a dance, a visit to somewhere even to start a new school or job. Thus they were motivated, either self or by another. So when the team representing Derby County enter the field they have to be motivated in the same fashion as an athlete is to run a race, an high jumper or long jumper to win, to be determined, to be mentally charged. Individually excited to achieve the desired result. On the other hand, a coach or trainer can have the negative attitude and instil in the sportsman the vibes that infer they are not to loose, do not think you are the best, and many other thoughts relative to football such as do not give the ball away, do not go to far up the field, or do not try to score if it is not a clear opportunity, and remember what you have been told. Hence the footballer has his mind more on what not to do, than what he can do. It is the consideration of many fans that this mindset is inside every Ram player when the whistle starts the game. For the first fifteen minutes the team shows well yet as soon as the opposition begin to retaliate and show their acumen the Ram team begins to worry and they fall apart because their mindset has come to the fore and they begin to make silly errors which eventually costs them goals. It was written in the last opinion that they “warm up” in the same format every game so they must go back into the dressing room and be installed with the same negative vibes every time. If history is consulted then the same trend keeps coming to the fore, no matter who the coaches are or the manager is. Some one is putting the wrong message into the eleven at the wrong time, and until that ague is healed then the team will not prosper. The players seem to have to motivate themselves individually. Perhaps by scoring first or by over powering the opposition. Not necessarily by playing certain systems. In comparison to other outfits the Rams seem dormant and timid in the sense they dare not express their own ability, dare not dribble around an opponent, on collecting a pass dare not turn about to face the opposition goal, dare not pass the ball into a space for a colleague to run on to, always playing warm potato football. Always playing square passes or back passes. Always negative football.
This result has to be a warning and wake up call to Mr Cocu. There are no good points to mention. His team selection and the mental attitude of some players has to be addressed very forcefully. He has good players at his disposal, and he has pathetic players at his disposal so all that can be said is to dispose of his pathetic players now and give those on the fringe the chance to grasp the nettle. The statue Huddleston, the inept Lawrence, and alas Dowell who just do not fit because either no movement or just not got their mind on the game. It is grossly unfair to have players sat on the bench their bums twitching to be on the field and having to watch other players getting a chance and abusing it. The Bees stung the Rams players in every position, they stung them for every pass and every opportunity they had, and the Rams deserved all they got for being such a tame and subdued outfit, some not fit to wear the shirt. Thank goodness there are a few days rest before going back to Pride Park. It gives the supporters the time to dilute this crap performance from their minds and to go into the stadium with a fresh hope. That is if Mr Cocu does not decided to play the same eleven in the same system with the same stupid heads on.