I must post on a somewhat lighter subject. It is some time since I have commented on the progress of my beloved Derby County. One of the reasons that I began this blog was to regularly comment on 'The Rams' because these days it is the only voice I have got.
One again our American owners have insisted that Derby County stand on its own two feet. They refuse to pump any money into the club and appear to have insisted that the manager sorted out the books. So Nigel Clough has ruthlessly got rid of all the high earners signed by previous managers and concentrated on cheap signings from the lower leagues and Scotland and developing an academy.
Now this policy will in my opinion never get us into the Premiership and if we get there we won't remain there. Having said that I must be fair and point out that Swansea and Norwich have not spent wildly. Norwich have a striker in Grant Holt who apprenticed in the lower leagues and the leading scorer for Swansea is Danny Graham who Rams fans will remember as a loanee who never scored a goal for us!
So is the policy of growing and developing our own talent realistic and how far has Nigel Clough gone in this direction? Well he has raided the lower leagues and Scotland. He went to Crewe and grabbed John Brayford and James Bailey and frankly they haven't done badly. He went back to Burton Albion and brought in Jake Buxton and reserve keeper Adam Legzdins and they have both surprised me. Buxton in particular has filled in for injured captain Sean Barker and has appeared solid. Ben Davies arrived from Notts County and sometimes flatters to deceive. Tom Naylor recently arrived from Mansfield and is very promising. Most of them are progressed and can play at championship level
Craig Bryson and Chris Maguire arrived from Scotland and one has succeeded and one failed (so far). We have also taken other players like Theo Robinson, Gareth Roberts, Nathan Tyson and Jamie Ward from championship level rivals with mixed success. Roberts has done well but players like Robinson and Ward will probably keep us in the division but no more. Tyson has failed.
So what about the academy? Here we have an unqualified success. This year alone we have fed Jeff Hendrick, Mark O'Brien, Callum Ball, Mason Bennett (15 years of age), Will Hughes (16) and recently Kwame Thomas (16) into the first team squad. I have no crystal ball so I don't know what the future holds but the three younger ones regularly turn out for the England age squads.
It would appear that Derby County are only prepared to pay proper money for centre backs (Jason Shackell and Sean Barker) but we need a strong midfielder and more than anything a finisher. Sometimes a club does have to push the boat out to compete. We remain a middle of the table unambitious outfit who play boring, uninspiring, football. We shut up shop at every opportunity and revel if we get a one goal victory.
Consequently this well supported club are losing fans. Every game is a struggle because in my opinion the manager has only one aim and that is to survive at this level. His 'fear' is often translated onto the field of play. They very rarely have a comfortable victory which was emphasised recently when they went 3-0 ahead and completed the game hanging on for dear life!
Football is an entertainment. People pay to be entertained. If you do not intend to entertain then you should find another profession Mr Clough. Your Dad knew how to entertain both personally and professionally and that is why he was so successful.