Nigel Clough and Derby's honesty is commendable but Rams must stay up - The Midlander

11 March 2011 09:51

If there is one aspect of life at Pride Park which is to be applauded at the moment, it's the honesty in the place.

From the chief executive Tom Glick, through to the manager Nigel Clough, to skipper Robbie Savage - you have to tip your hat in admiration at the point-blank refusal to indulge in any buck-passing.

Glick said before last weekend's game with Barnsley: 'We need confidence put back into the club its about the results now, nothing else Nigel Clough is our man, he's our guynext season have got to be competitive in the top six'

Just what is going on? Robbie Savage and Derby players show their disappointment as Doncaster claim victory at Pride Park last week

After the defeat by Doncaster, the manager emerged and - to his credit - offered up every single one of his players for interview. He actually wanted the press to seek explanations as to why those on show gave such an insipid display.

Notwithstanding that, he also added: 'We are so fragile. I don't think we look forward to playing at home. The crowd applauded us off after we lost to Hull. They did not do that tonight. To be honest, I thought they should have booed a little louder.'

And, for his part, Savage simply said: 'It was pathetic from me and pathetic from everyone else.'

All of that is absolutely commendable. I just wish there were other clubs following that kind of lead.

After a goalless home draw against the Tykes and surrendering a lead at Middlesbrough in the last 15 minutes, I think it's fair to say that the situation has not improved after last week.

As sportswriters, we can only be in one place at any given time, which presents obvious problems when you are trying to assess reasons why Derby have slumped from their position in the play-offs to their current plight, six points above the relegation zone.

Leaving it such a long time since the last time I viewed them - the 5-2 defeat to Forest at the City Ground in late December was my previous sighting - I have to say I was shocked at my experience last week.

On the pitch, it's fair to say that the club has not moved forwards. And that's putting it mildly. I look down the list of players and I wonder where the real problem lies.

Is it that they have been badly chosen? Or does the manager have his hands tied by financial constraints? Are the players simply not good enough? Or are they just suffering a crisis of confidence?

It's possibly a combination of all four factors. Guilt can be apportioned on an appropriate basis, given your personal values as to who is to blame and for what.

Under pressure: Derby boss Nigel Clough

The American owners have decided that incomings must equal outgoings. I don't have a problem with that. It is going to take a while to filter through the excesses that were handed out during the previous regime which remains an issue.

So, that being the credo at Pride Park, how does the club move forwards?

Well, on the face of it, employing Nigel Clough following his success at Burton was a solid enough choice. I don't think there are too many people who don't want to see Clough succeed for all sorts of reasons. You can count me among them.

But I look down his squad list and do wonder why it is populated with players from Millwall, Sheffield United, Notts County, Crewe and Burton Albion. And in some cases, not wanted by these clubs, either.

Big miss: Kris Commons left Derby for Celtic in January

Derby's boss wants to create a young, hungry, dynamic - particularly with what has gone before in mind. Again, flawless logic. But it's a difficult act, balancing young and hungry with them being of sufficient quality to perform adequately in a league as difficult as the Championship.

If they are young and inexperienced, confidence can quickly drain away and with a supporter base that is, quite rightly, sitting there with an understandable degree of expectation, it can all turn sour very quickly.

I look at the players who have gone recently, especially Kris Commons and cannot see anyone remotely capable of providing that X factor. Perhaps that comes at a price.

As for the players, they have the stage to perform. Believe me, there are far more vicious and unforgiving crowds to be playing in front of than the Rams' supporters. Let's face it, no home wins since November. How would you feel?

Savage was right in his assessment after the Doncaster game. They did crumble. And in that instance, it doesn't matter where Clough has signed them from, they have to stand up.

The best thing for the whole club is for it to stumble through to the end of the campaign and maintain its' Championship status. By hook or by crook.

Last season, Clough had horrific injury problems with which to contend. This time out, the causes for such a dreadful implosion are not as easy to pinpoint. Assuming the battle to stay up is won - and it's by no means a foregone conclusion as I write - there needs to be some serious questions asked as to whether the players are of sufficient quality to move Derby upwards. If not, decisions need to be taken.

So far, the board have stood by their man and the fans are understandably reluctant to turn on the manager - possibly because they recognise that, if nothing else, he shares their pain.

I don't think for a minute that Nigel Clough will still be at the club if they are relegated. He won't want the stigma of being the man that leads the club into the third tier. No way.

So it needs to be a summer of straight-talking again at Pride Park, because the current run cannot be allowed to continue into another season. Next time, they might not be as lucky.

 Three riot vans containing 30 police were called to New Street in Birmingham city centre on Sunday afternoon. For what, you may reasonably ask?

Some Birmingham City 'fans' turned a celebration of their Carling Cup triumph into an attack on Aston Villa's club shop. Why?

 Finally, while we are on the subject of supporters Wolves fans, the club is not joking about the city council taking away several hundred seats in the Jack Harris Stand if those in question cannot be seated during games. Don't say you haven't been warned!

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Source: Daily_Mail