What a truly gutting, humiliating experience this was on my first visit to this ugly cattle shed of a ground. Yes, Leicester showed why they’re top of the league (Dyer, Nugent and Vardy were brilliant) but we were so, so poor. Only Bucko and Grant were really able to leave the pitch with any sense of having done the job as best they could. Grant kept us in the game in the first half, when we could have easily gone in five nil down.
This was an important test for us and we failed it. Big time. Yep, it was one hell of a reality check after all our recent achievements. Let’s see how McClaren and the team respond. Now that IS going to define our season.
After taking a wrong turn upon leaving the train station (which would eventually have led me to Market Harborough), I arrived at the ground with about an hour to spare. Yes, I know it’s not too different in construction to ours but the stadium had an ugly feel to it. And the floor of the away end wobbled dramatically if you jumped up and down. Thankfully (in a way), there wasn’t too much jumping up and down for me last night. And, while I’m searching for small crumbs of comfort, the gate was only 23,000. I know it was a Sky game but I think Derby would be getting 30,000+ crowds if we were top of the league.
My pre-kick off twitter discussions focused on the absence of heroic, man mountain, holding midfielder par excellence, John Eustace, from the side. He’s been the foundation of our success since half time at the Ipswich game, his experience in this still young side has been crucial and I was surprised to see him on the bench. However, he can’t play every game, is picking up bookings and has been bypassed in a few games recently. And McClaren seems keen on trying Hendrick out as a holding midfielder. He is an international and built like a brick outhouse after all. I felt reasonably positive it would work.
It didn’t work. From where I was standing Hendrick was at fault for two of Leicester’s goals and had an awful game (not that he was alone in this). Leicester, with power and pace, simply strode through our midfield at will, leaving the defence horribly exposed. We needed Eustace (or that Cisse chap, perhaps he’ll get a contract now). If neither of these two are the answer then we need to get someone in this month. Someone like Palace’s Jedinak (yes, I know we have no chance of actually getting HIM). Otherwise, we’ll be shuffling Bryson, Hendrick and Hughes around the midfield for the rest of the season. Like Clough did.
Too be honest, most of the second half was a bit of a blur. Conceding a goal early wasn’t particularly clever. I dislike Nugent intensely, so that didn’t help my mood either. The (own) goal we scored lifted the spirits a little but we were soon being completely overrun again. I’ve not seen a replay of the penalty incident but me and all the guys around me thought it was outside the area. I think that was wishful thinking, we were the other side of the stadium after all..
I did consider leaving before the end but that would be breaking my cardinal football match rule – DO NOT LEAVE BEFORE THE FULL TIME WHISTLE. So I stayed. And, to be honest, I was wondering if we might get a consolation goal. Ever hopeful, me! A few quick words on Bamford. Clearly skilful with the ball at his feet, mobile and direct but has a casual air about him. Let’s see what he looks like on less difficult occasions than this.
I managed to quickly find my way back to Leicester station in time to get the 1001 fast train back to Derby. That “achievement” was the highlight of my night, to be honest. My foul mood wasn’t improved by the mass punch up I nearly got caught up in as I left the Derby station. Not a single copper outside the station, nice to see Derbyshire Police are on the ball.
All in all, an evening to forget.