RamsWeek 25 - Don’t Look Back
Monday, 20th Jun 2011 01:10 by Paul Mortimer
Further transfer captures were sought by Derby County as they continued their shopping, whilst the managerial merry-go-round whizzed back and forth elsewhere in football.
Forest forward Nathan Tyson agreed to join Derby County on a three-year contract; he’ll officially join on July 1st when his Nothingham Forest contract expires. Two goals a season in the last two campaigns is a strike rate more akin to a defender’s goal tally but it is Tyson’s pace and penetration that Rams boss Nigel Clough wants.
Tyson was more prolific as a central striker at Wycombe Wanderers early in his career and Derby may deploy him in that role. Nathan is best (or worst) remembered for his flag-waving stupidity after Forest’s 3-2 win over Derby at the City Ground in a recent Championship clash.
Tyson’s message to Derby supporters was: ‘don’t look back’, saying he regretted what happened that day at the City Ground. The best way to apologise and redress that antagonism on behalf of Rams fans is for him to make sure his new team beats Forest next time out.
Nathan’s initial press comments suggest he is full of fire and determination to put the past behind him and give his best for Derby County. We will enjoy seeing him atone next season!
Reports said that Derby had upped their offer for Barnsley defender Jason Shackell to £1m and that the player has told Barnsley he’d like a move. It also emerged that Derby utility player Miles Addison could feature in a part-exchange deal and make a loan move to Oakwell.
Many Rams fans aren’t too happy at the thought of a popular, home-grown talent like Miles leaving Derby - and some others think that the club should consider cashing in and selling Miles for a good fee. Miles is a strong, versatile English prospect, even if he doesn’t possess the touch, vision and skill of another Derby Academy graduate, Tom Huddlestone.
Addison would slip down the pecking order at Derby if Shackell is recruited to partner Sean Barker in defence - and at 22 years of age, he is in need of first team games to establish his best position.
Tom Glick kept up his bullish media profile about Derby’s transfer activity in asserting that the club had bids in for various other players too. Foxes’ forward Martyn Waghorn and Watford midfielder John Eustace are thought to be among the players for which Derby has made offers.
Earlier this year it was revealed that MLS club Vancouver Whitecaps, backed by GSE’s Derby consortium member Jeff Mallett, were interested in engaging Rams’ captain Robbie Savage - and also wanted several other Derby players to switch to the Whitecaps.
Should the boot now be on the other foot? Perhaps Mr Glick could get the Whitecaps to loan us Eric Hassli instead? The tall and powerful French-born forward had a good strike-rate for FC Zurich, and is now feted for his ‘goal of the season’ contender - which you can see on this link:
TG also updated fans on the search for a so-called DCFC ‘technical director’. He’d be the fulcrum of the football operation, a link between Glick and manager Clough. Mr Glick said the person would have both football and commercial expertise, and names were being considered - but that there was no urgent rush to appoint him. Derby has (thankfully) had a successful summer of player recruitment to date, so the club can take care over the new appointment.
After the January debacle, fans questioned the credibility of GSE and Mr Glick in their ability to operate an English football club. The club will soon be stronger for the addition of some further experience and assistance where it matters most - in building a football team.
The newcomer will be able to develop the scouting and assess players from a wider perspective. Perhaps Derby may also consider some of the Premier League players released at the end of last season that are now free agents? There are some big names in there, such as Scholes, Viera, Neville, Carew, Reo-Coker, Woodgate…ohh, and a certain Giles Barnes, released by WBA!
Here’s the full list: http://www.premierleague.com/staticFiles/14/79/0,,12306~162068,00.pdf
Some of the Championship promotion hopefuls may well be taking the plunge for one or two of these names - though we’ll wait and see if Derby County tread the costly path which such as Cardiff City and Leicester City chose last term in paying big wages to ‘chase the dream’. Don’t hold your breath!
Having just lost Tyson to Derby and midfield lynchpin McKenna to Hull City, Nothingham Forest themselves made two other significant moves in the past few days - after sacking Billy Davies, they secured the services of former Derby County coach Steve McLaren to replace him.
It looked like a canny move from the Forest board, electing to dispense with the services of the tiresome Davies and capitalising on McLaren’s availability, after managerless Aston Villa messed him around and cancelled a planned interview for the Villa Park hot-seat.
Steve Mac played a central role in Derby’s rise to the Premier League and then on to the top half of the top flight under Jim Smith in the 1990’s. That cosmopolitan team, which included Igor Stimac, Aljosa Asanovic, Paulo Wanchope, Stefano Eranio, Chicco Baiano, Mart Poom, Dean Sturridge and others was arguably Derby’s best side since the Brian Clough era.
Fans and football pundits who dismiss the ex-England coach as ‘the wally with the brolly’ do so out of ignorance of his credentials and achievements at club level. It will add spice to Rams-Forest ‘derby’ clashes - though I’m sure Steve Mac won’t be whingeing like a 6-year old schoolgirl that someone kicked his shins! McLaren’s mentality will also be ‘don’t look back’ - just look forward.
It always seems that the new season’s fixtures are published as soon as the last season has finished - and this summer is no exception! Thursday saw the Carling Cup first round draw and the Rams were drawn at home to Shrewsbury Town, in the week commencing 8th August.
There’s a Forest vs. County clash in the Carling Cup over in Nothingham - cue celebrations on RamZone, if Notts manage to chop down those Trees - and Burton Albion have a tough away draw at Burnley.
Friday morning saw the release of the full fixture list for the 2011-12 Football League season and Derby County commences the Championship programme on August 6th, at home to relegated Birmingham City. Next up is the Carling Cup tie at home to Shrewsbury Town, and then the Rams face two away games, at Watford and Blackpool.
Clashes with the Trees and DirtyLeeds are the games that fans look out for first, and Derby travel to Forest in mid-September, with the return at Pride Park Stadium in early February. A Boxing Day date at home to Leeds United should guarantee a big gate, with the return at Elland Road coming in April.
Derby travel to play the furry Foxes of Leicester at the start of October, with the return home game coming in late February.
Derby hosts West Ham United on New Year’s Eve and the Rams will end their 2011-12 campaign at home to Peterborough United on April 28th. If the Rams are to mount a promotion challenge then they’d better not rely too heavily on their end-of-season run-in, as they have tough away trips to Leeds, Cardiff and Portsmouth during April 2012.
As ever, you can expect about a dozen of the original fixture dates and/or kick-off times to be rearranged for the benefit of armchair TV fans or upon police advice. You can see Derby’s full 2011-12 fixture list here:
With the fixtures released and the transfer chase in full swing in every division, there’s also a tug of war over managers wanted by other clubs. Cardiff City rejected Alan Shearer’s application but went back to Watford twice to secure permission to interview Watford boss Malky Mackay, who confirmed his interest in the job - and finally took up the reins in Wales on Friday.
Conflict escalated in the second city, as Aston Villa - having shelved plans to interview ex-Rams’ coach Steve McLaren - sought the services of ex-Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish.
Fans and club at Villa Park spurned the opportunity to exercise a seemingly wise move to recruit the much-maligned but talented Steve McLaren. You could say that they have made their bed, and can lie in it!
A “don’t look back” approach certainly applies to Alex McLeish, who must grit his teeth, ignore the barbs and bricks, and prove people wrong to make Villa a football force once more!
Excitable Aston Villa fans first lobbied their club to dissuade Villa owner Randy Lerner from recruiting McLaren and then went into overdrive to stage protests at the prospect of Bluenose boss McLeish taking over at Villa Park. There has even been media talk of death threats aimed at McLeish from some unbalanced Villa supporters!
McLeish was duly appointed at Villa Park on a three-year contract regardless of supporter opinion, so Villa fans can’t ultimately pick and choose whom the club recruits. Villa’s owner will pray that McLeish can soon restore Villa’s fortunes, if sustained supporter backlash is to be avoided! Birmingham City want compensation, or an injunction, or both…so no love lost there!
A Facebook group rejecting the idea of McLeish taking the Villa job quickly amassed almost 18,000 members - and the managerial move will be a defining moment in Randy Lerner’s tenure at Villa Park. The club’s strategy virtually defies logic, being either brave or foolhardy dependent on your view. Time will tell if the decision proved borne of inspiration or desperation.
In a different way, GSE’s loyalty to Nigel Clough in recent times has also flown in the face of prevailing trends and expectations. Many a manager in the Championship has taken a tumble recently in the Championship, from other clubs troubled by bad results. With their teams under threat of relegation, they were dispensed with in traditionally rapid fashion, despite having better records than that of Clough’s Derby tenure.
Derby, however, stuck by Nigel Clough through prolonged slumps; a now full squad rebuild has been launched with the Son of Brian still at the helm. If DCFC do not regard season 2011-12 as a ‘make or break’ campaign for Messrs Clough and Glick, then many Rams fans certainly do.
Villa went out on a limb to recruit the ex-manager of their fiercest rivals, whilst Derby refused to buckle and undergo another major managerial upheaval.
Randy Lerner was of course forced into change the manager because of Gerald Houllier’s poor health – Lerner now has to rehabilitate his club under a new coach. Season 2011-12 will show whether or not both clubs got it right.
The FA Cup has a new main sponsor for the next three years - the St. Louis-based company that own the Budweiser beer brand replaced the energy company E.on; Bud has previously backed the World Cup competition and motorsport for many years.
There can be opposition to the involvement of beer and fast-food sponsorships in sport; some nations (notably France) have discouraged due to the health concerns attributed to such advertising. English football is happy for such global brands to tromp through the game; after all, it’s worth £8m a year to the Football Association in this instance.
Football fans of course (unlike fans attending other sports) are still regarded in law as potentially too inebriated and dangerous to be allowed to consume alcohol in sight of the pitch. They will have to migrate to stadium concourses to have the privilege of quaffing a (high-priced) bottle of Bud.
A media bulletin said that the competition will now be known as: “The FA Cup with Budweiser”. Well, it won’t be, in fact - football fans will just refer to it as ‘the FA Cup’ and will in all likelihood disregard the Americanisation. Fans will conclude that the proper name of the world’s oldest and greatest domestic Cup competition is as iconic as it gets, anyway!
England’s Young Lions made a muted exit from the European Under-21 Championships in Denmark on Sunday evening. They had to beat the Czech Republic to proceed to the semi-finals but fell short - England lost 2-1 despite having taken a late lead through Danny Welbeck.
The Czechs, who had played at a leisurely pace needing only a draw to pip England, scored two late, late goals to win through. It was a case of too little, too late for Stuart Pearce’s men who had failed to win either of their preceding two games.
Derby goalkeeper Frank Fielding acquitted himself well during the tournament but the squad lacked quality, pace, purpose and power; yet another England team that promised much but ultimately delivered very little.
RW regulars may be aware that each week I adopt a musical theme, using a song title or lyric for the title of the article. This week is no exception; RW 25 is themed upon ‘Don’t Look Back’, as the major sentiment emerges from Messrs Tyson, McLaren and McLeish leaving their past behind.
However, I’ll reverse that sentiment to dedicate this week’s edition to Clarence Clemons, the larger-than-life saxophonist whose cavernous sound was the driving soul of Bruce Springsteen’s East Street Band.
Clarence died on Saturday 18th June, from complications following a stroke; he was 69. Condolences go to all, including the legions of fans of ‘The Boss’ everywhere.
‘Don’t Look Back’ is also the title of a Springsteen song, but I will permit myself to look back regularly. I’ll revisit - on disc or in memory - the formidable sight and sound of ‘The Big Man’ gathering his large lungs to propel the mighty sound of the East Street Band. His body is stilled - but his saxophone will resonate through rock & roll forever.
RIP, Clarence - you nailed it.
RamsWeek 25 last season also saw the new campaign ‘fast approaching’, with the 2010-11 fixtures released. Derby faced a tough start to their Championship programme, away at Elland Road, Leeds (which wasn’t half bad, as it turned out!)
Derby would also face Crewe Alexandra in the first round of the Carling Cup…but the less said about that, the better.
Other DCFC news was at a premium. Players like Steve Davies and Dean Leacock declared themselves ready to battle for fitness after injury, in readiness for the forthcoming season.
Northampton Crown Court saw the hearing for The Proceeds of Crime in the DCFC fraud case, to establish the assets of Messrs Keith, Lowe, Mackay and McKenzie subsequent to their convictions and jailing for fraudulent dealings whilst in control of Derby County FC.
I’m not sure that the courts have got to the bottom of all that yet, or whether DCFC could obtain any financial redress against the fraudsters.
Here’s to the end of an ugly chapter in our history.
Photo: Action Images
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