As we have just passed the half-way mark, I thought it was time to analyse Derby’s progress so far this season.
I’m writing this piece on the back of an unusual defeat at the weekend. Although personally I have very few complaints with the loss to Boro, I did find it incredible that social media became an utter meltdown after the match. In the midst of all of the unsavoury comments some (so-called) Rams fans came out with over the weekend, here’s my chance to put things into a little bit of perspective.
Time to reflect then as County sit handily in second place in the Championship table with 48 points after 24 games – a very good return by anyone’s standards. The weekend’s result was only the third defeat over that period too. Not bad either when you take into consideration that the club didn’t win any of their first five matches. A similar return over the next 22 games and you should be celebrating promotion.
What of the teams hot on the heels of Paul Clement’s side, though? Last season I personally put my foot in it by stating that Bournemouth and Watford wouldn’t last the distance. However, in Brighton’s case, I don’t see the same unless they buy heavily in the January window. To go the first 21 games unbeaten is some achievement, but since that first defeat, compounded with injuries and suspensions, their lack of strength in depth its beginning to show.
Hull on the other hand are looking strong and still have Premier League quality in their squad. It is of many people’s opinion that they will chase the Rams hard for the automatic places come May. Burnley, I’m not too sure about. They still have a good team from those that came down last season and a genuine goal threat in Andre Gray, but they are currently too inconsistent and that may see them fall just short.
Performance wise, Clement’s team have been a little short for quite a few games now. Their build-up play often lacks intensity and pace, and they tend to grow into games these days rather than going for it from the off like we did under Steve McClaren. Of course, this has made the side a lot harder to beat and this is possibly the trade-off for driving forward at every attack like the charge of the light brigade. Certainly, the next few games are vital for us. Not only due to an awkward looking away tie in the FA Cup at Hartlepool, but also with three of the next four league games at home and the one away game against promotion rivals Burnley, it’s vital to start another good unbeaten run going.
It seems there is going to be some movement in the transfer window as well. Indeed as I’m writing this piece we’ve just completed the signing of Guinea international Abdoul Camara, as well as Reading’s Nick Blackman, which will give the Rams more fantastic attacking options. I don’t think that will be the end of it either.
So, there is still plenty to play for and still plenty to be optimistic about also. Bring on the second half of the season – it could be a cracker!