In a weekend hit by weather misery here in the UK thanks to the government’s clear lack of contingency, Derby did manage to get their game against Scunthorpe United kicked off but in hindsight would rather they’d followed the lead of many of the other English clubs decision. The Irons battered Derby 4-1 at Pride Park thanks to a lot of lack lustre defending from the Rams as home fans watched their side crumble from start to finish. Although Derby (who were 2-0 down at half time) did get back into the game after half time, largely down to the introduction of the coveted Kris Commons, they lacked any sort of commitment and were often statues when Scunthorpe pressured them. Listening to BBC radio five live phone in the evening I heard one Derby fan e-mail in his disgruntlement at Nigel Clough’s management of the team and suggested that he wasn’t capable of taking the club forward. Derby fans seem divided on Clough but I personally think he deserves time. You can say “you don’t know what it’s like being a fan of this football club” but I have my reasons.
All season Derby have had a depleted squad and that isn’t just through injuries. There has been some confusion over the American investors of the club and what they have actually offered the club. General Sports & Entertainment Ltd have so far provided little in substantial funds for the Rams and Clough and the wage bill has been constantly slashed. The threat of financial troubles over Derby seems to be present all to often in the clubs recent history, Billy Davies (who is now manager of bitter rivals Nottingham Forrest) quit after getting the club to the premiership due to the boards reluctance to provide funds for new players. That wasn’t the USA group that currently own the club either, so the club needs some serious investment to balance the books.
This past summer the club sold a number of players and brought few in for as little as possible, a definite move to slash the wage budget at the club. Fans have been unhappy with the signing of Jake Buxton, a player who was a key figure in Burton Albion’s climb up the leagues when Clough was in charge and in all honesty has struggled to adapt to the pace of a much higher league. This January could be a tough one for the team, with a number of fellow league teams aware of Derby’s clearout, particularly Wolves and Ipswich keeping an eye on Kris Commons and Jay McEveley respectively.
Then there are the issue of injuries and older players. Robbie Savage is 35 now and although a prominent figure in the football league I don’t think he can play at this level any more. But who to replace him with? Lee Henrie who is injury prone and also getting on in years? I don’t think so but that is what Clough has to work with and he doesn’t have much choice because money talks loudest in football. If you were in Clough’s position, sure it doesn’t look great that you’re just above the relegation zone but wouldn’t you want sympathy because of the resources available to you? Also look at Kris Commons coming back into the Derby fold all of a sudden, looking dangerous and confident; Clough has been hit by a number of injuries to key players.
It should be reminded that Clough only got Burton promoted in his fourth season at the club and that was after the club had sorted itself out and was finally able to pour a little money in. Four years might seem a long time but that’s what it can take in this business and Derby definitely need some sorting out. Clough is just trying to battle this situation out and I believe he’s doing a great job at it, last season Derby narrowly avoided relegation thanks to Clough coming in and managing a poorly formed side created by Paul Jewell. So far I don’t think Clough has been given any substantial funds to buy players since he’s been in charge.
Its frustrating being at the bottom of the table and seeing your side lose games but that is just the cards you’re dealt. Derby don’t have the depth or talent the likes of Newcastle, West Brom or Cardiff have and that’s why they are in the situation they are in. Sacking Clough does nothing to solve that problem, it’s just a difficult period and the club needs investment from somewhere else. I know the Derby fans are some of the most passionate supporters I’ve met and I hope that they can see it from this viewpoint as well. An already stretched wage bill will delve more into the red if you sack Clough and his back room staff and then bring in someone else. Would someone else really make the situation better? I don’t think so. We all know what the last Clough achieved after leaving Derby over an arguement over funds…