Derby County 2 : Blackburn 0 – 27th January 2015

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I went through a wide range of emotions before, during & after this game. My earlier positivity (we can go level top if we win, level top!) was dented somewhat by my pre-match reality check with Spicy Kev over some cheap nosh & 2 oatmeal stouts in The Standing Order. Kev doesn’t think we’ll get promoted but would quite like to go to Wembley again. After a quick discussion about what Kev got up to in the 80s we were in the ground & my positivity was back (Gestede & Rhodes are on the bench, we’ll walk this!). Never mind the fact that we’d reverted back to the “tried and tested” 4-3-3 formation that hasn’t served us particularly well. And Bent on the bench.. We had a bright start but it was clear Blackburn were sufficiently organised to match (or at least frustrate) us. Before long I’d joined Kev in the depths of despair (we’re never going to score, they’ll probably nick one..). And then Bent came on. Two goals & a decent little victory for us. We’re level top, LEVEL TOP!!! Some random, belated, brief thoughts then… Darren Bent – one of the Spurs season ticket holders on my team at work said to me when Bent arrived, “He’ll just score goals, you know”. Well, strikers might need to do a lot more things in the Premier League but if Bent scores regularly for us for the rest of the season, I’ll be happy. That’s 3 goals in 3 games now, all from about 3 yards out. Outstanding. He clearly does give us something different to Martin. And thank god for that, let’s be honest, we were getting a bit predictable. The fabled Plan B – unless McClaren’s going to spring a surprise in away games, I can’t see us actually starting a game with anything other than 4-3-3 & Martin on his own up front. Which means Bent starting on the bench & only coming on if we’re struggling. When he came on in this game he was certainly playing up front alongside Martin (& sometimes ahead of him). The formation changed to a “sort of” 4-4-2, with Omar & Will in the middle, Wardy on the left & Hendrick on the right. Steve Nicholson said it was more like a 4-1-3-2. Whatever it was, it seemed to work ok, although it did leave us a bit open. Better teams than Blackburn might punish us playing that way, methinks.. McClaren seems certain that 4-3-3 gives us more control, so “Plan B” appears to be a reactive option when we’re struggling. Let’s see how that goes. At least we have options now. A replacement for Jordan Ibe – it looks like we’re after another loan forward now Ibe’s rejoined Liverpool’s Under 21 squad (shame on you, Uncle Brendan) & Russell’s injury. Ince, Hoilett, Phillips, John Barnes, Nick Pickering, we’ve been linked with anybody who’s out of favour at other clubs. Personally, I’d not waste £300,000 (just the loan fee) for a player, like Ince, who’s struggled for about 3 separate clubs, in the past year or so. Why not give Mason Bennett a go? He did well when he came on, created the 2nd goal & let’s not forget, he’s one of the most talented players our Academy’s produced. Who played well – Grant was back to his imperious best after his headloss against Forest. A couple of great saves kept us in the game, actually. Will was brilliant, he’s becoming a complete midfielder & beginning to control games. Not bad for a 19 year old. Is it me or has he got wispy blonde goatee? Omar also had a very good game, passing well, tackling robustly & contributing with his set piece quality. Let’s see if he can do it in away games. Who struggled – Hendrick played better than he did against Forest but that was a hell of a low. He made a few good runs but he’ll have to do a lot more to redeem himself in my eyes. Played wide right after Bent came on & did ok. Shotton still worries me. Probably brought in at right back because he was deemed to be more robust than Christie, he looked uncomfortable to me. There was one moment in the 2nd half where a Blackburn player went straight past him & he looked far too casual in trying to recover. He just doesn’t convince me. Anyway. On to Cardiff. Come on you Rams.

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