Derby County – 2016/17 pre-season musings

Time to explore my latent multiple personality disorder and interview myself about the Rams’ prospects for the season ahead..

So. Have you recovered from last season yet?

You ask me this every season! I suppose we are stuck in a bit of a rut, three years of flirting with promotion to the Promised Land & nothing to show for it. I ended last season throwing Mel’s free scarf onto the iPro pitch in disgust after our shameless capitulation against Hull in the play off semi-final. The future of the club looked pretty depressing at that stage. I was certain Mel had lost it & Wassall was a shoe for a permanent promotion to head coach.

And then Pearson was appointed.

So what do you think of Nigel Pearson then?

Absolutely the right person for Derby County. He has right experience for what we need to do but more importantly he has the right approach & personality to deal with the issues that have plagued us in recent years. He talks about finding different ways to win & the team working hard and for each other. Winning when not playing well. Winning performances rather than good performances. That’s exactly what we need & I’m so pleased that Mel appears to have accepted that we need a dominant manager with authority, rather than the failed “Head Coach” model we’ve been trying since the McClaren era. Pearson has that little bit about him that makes you think the players will be in fear of getting on his wrong side. I’m pleased Chris Powell has signed up too, he’ll complement Pearson well, I reckon.

Happy with what’s (not) happened over the summer?

You’re talking about the lack of signings aren’t you? I’m not bothered in the slightest about it. And it’s clear Pearson is quite relaxed about it too. We’ll add a player if he improves us. That’s a better approach to signing players than we had last season. Come to think of it, anything is a better approach to signing players than the one we had last season.

The squad is quite bloated & unbalanced at the moment & you could say it’s a pretty dysfunctional squad too. We have way too many central midfielders, not enough wide players & bunch of forwards that have been playing bit part support roles to Chris Martin for too long.

I’m pleased we’ve rid ourselves of players on the periphery of the squad like Albentosa & Shotton (what were we thinking?!) &, although I’m sad to see Bucko go, he clearly didn’t have a future with us. I’d expect a few more to depart as August progresses too, once the side/formation settles down & it becomes clear what players are miles away from being involved.

I’m surprised we haven’t bitten the bullet & accepted £7 million for Hendrick. Despite his exertions for Ireland & can’t see him being the main man for us this season. And I think we may struggle with FFP later this season, so a nice little boost to the bank balance might have been sensible.

Pre-season appears to have gone well, apart from the thrashing by Benfica (which probably came a bit early for us). The team appear to have followed Pearson’s game plans and have won despite not playing well. Maybe we’ll have to get used to that.

How will the team shape up for the first game against Brighton?

Pearson appears to have favoured a 4-4-1-1 formation so far, so that must be how the team will set up tomorrow. Predicting the defence is easy. Carson is clearly first choice in goal. Keogh, like you say, will be captain & partner Shackell in central defence. Fozzy is thankfully now first choice left back (can’t wait to see him rampaging down that left side) & Cyrus will be on the right. Bent up front, with Ince just behind him. Now for the difficult bit. Midfield. I’ll go for Weiman on the left, Blackman on the right & Hendrick & Johnson in the middle. However, it could be anyone. When you try & work out who will play in midfield it really brings home to you how many surplus players we have there. It will be a Pearson’s biggest challenge to sort that lot out.

Who do you think will be player of the season?

I’d love to see an attacking player like Weimann, Bent or Ince get it. However, given the emphasis that Pearson has put on finding different ways to win this season & defensive organisation, I think we’ll be handing the Jackie Stamps Trophy to Jason Shackell in the last game.

Who’s going to be this season’s Leon Best?

This is a difficult one. We haven’t signed anyone new & if any of the current squad don’t perform, I’d expect Pearson to ditch them pretty sharpish. Perhaps this is a bit controversial but I’m going to go with Chris Martin. I get the impression he’s not the type of player Pearson likes & now the McClaren Memorial Formation (4-3-3) appears to be out of favour, it’s difficult to see how he fits in.

Finally, what are your predictions?

Newcastle to finish as Champions, a club to come out of left field and finish runners up & Derby to finish third. And find redemption at Wembley.

Mel to start a “Thirty Six Is Plenty” campaign & sets ticket prices for the iPro at £36 for every game of the season. That’s same amount I pay to watch Premier League football at Watford by the way..

Richard Keogh to continue as captain &, like you say, be rewarded with a new 2 year contract by Christmas.

The South Stand unveils a giant flag at the Brighton game with a picture of Nigel Pearson on it & the tag line, “Good football, if possible”.

Darren Bent scores 15 + goals, all from within the 6 yard box, 10 of them off his backside.

Bradley Johnson plays 30 games for the Under 23s (as an over age player) & lifts the EFL Cup at Wembley against West Bromwich Albion reserves.

Jeff Hendrick is sold to Burnley for £10 million by the end of August.

Following Darren Wassall’s return to the Academy, the matchday water supplier goes bankrupt.

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