The Opposition View: Derby County
James Brearley on the Rams' recent struggles. Derby fan James Brearley answers some key questions ahead of Saturday's important match.When Derby and Pompey met earlier in the season both teams were in superb form and talked about as possible play-off contenders. What has gone wrong for Derby since then?The main problem Derby have suffered with for many years now is confidence issues. When we played you earlier in the season we were on a great run, we were full of confidence and getting fortunate on occasion. A few unlucky defeats later and our fragile confidence was shot to pieces and when we needed big characters to step up and take charge they haven't been there for us. Two defeats to your bitter rivals and losing to non-league Crawley haven't helped matters at all as now the fans are putting the pressure on both the board and Nigel Clough to deliver better results. We had Shefki Kuqi and Luke Moore when we played you now both of them have moved on and we are left with Chris Porter who I have seen ships with a quicker turning speed than him and now the lack of investment is now really showing in this young team.Derby fans seemed to hold Nigel Clough in high regard earlier in the campaign. What is your opinion of him now?If he didn't have his surname then he would have been out on his ear a long time ago, but the Clough second name has a special place in every Derby fans heart.If Nigel could ever deliver half the success his dad did then he would make the Derby faithful very happy, but at the moment we've seen the potential, but he is yet to deliver. He's made some decent young signings from the lower league on a shoe string budget, but has also shown that he's not the tactical genius we all crave. We have one way of playing and if the other team match us and minimise our threat then we have absolutely no plan B at all.Are you happy with Derby's transfer activity? Is Kris Commons going to be a big miss?We were promised major investment from this board and so far we haven't seen it, we have been active in the market, but we've not bought in any stellar signings.We sold Rob Hulse at the start of the season without any replacement and then we were promised we would replace him in the emergency loan window, we bought in Shefti Kuqi and Luke Moore to cover us upfront, but both of them are no longer with us. We expected too see a replacement in January and it took us until deadline dayto finally make a concrete bid for a striker and that was Connor Sammon but he ended up at Wigan so again we're left without a quality striker on our books.Many fans loved and adored Kris Commons, because he was a pure match winner and our main creative spark, it also helped that he was a former Forest player. We heard for many months how we wanted Commo to stay and we would meet his contract demands, but for the last 5 games he didn't look one bit bothered and his head had been turned by Celtic and Rangers.We met his contracts demands, but there was nothing we could do to stop him leaving on a free at the end of the season so we got a small bit of cash for a excellent player who I doubt we will ever replace under this board. He has been our most consistent player with one of the biggest goal hauls in the league this season and as of now; I really can't see where the goals are going to come from.With Commons gone, who are Derby's key players now?Barker is massive for us at the back, on his day he is easily a Premier League centre back. He signed from Blackpool for 1 million last season and had a hit-and-miss start suffering with injuries and failing to settle in. Then came his turning point, Forest at home, he didn't miss a ball all afternoon and after that game he never looked back and went on to win the player of the season. Our other key player is the Spanish magician, Alberto Bueno, he comes from the Real Madrid academy and loves to get on the ball and rip teams apart, the only problem is he can go missing in away matches and a fly has more psychical presence than him.What are the biggest weaknesses in your team?We have no goals in our team whatsoever anymore. We were one of the highest scoring teams in the league up to November, but the goals have really dried up now and we have nobody who we can say knows where the onion bag is. I'd say our left back Gareth Roberts is a weak link as he has failed to settle in since signing on a free from Doncaster in the summer.Pompey haven't won at home since October last year so how confident are you of getting a result at Fratton Park come Saturday?We were much improved against Ipswich Tuesday night, but I fear for us if you score early as confidence is really at an all time low and with mounting pressure on the manager's shoulder this could be either a major turning point or the end for Clough.With both sides struggling for form are you expecting a scrappy game or do you think that this will be a goalfest?With the way our defence has been playing in recent months then I can't see you not scoring, we need some big performances from some players, but I'm not sure they have the experience to do that.Predict the outcome of the game.A scrappy 2-2 draw.
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