Cottagers Confidential: Derby County seems fairly safe in a playoff position. How do you think the season has gone so far? What do you expect from the second half?
Rams Corner: The season has largely gone pretty well, we’ve seen Derby pick up some good points and three points in different circumstances. Paul Clement’s squad are a talented bunch. Recently, however, things have been different with the players struggling for confidence and supporters at a loss as to what exactly is happening with the slump in form.
I expect the club to finish in the top six. Had you asked me that a month or so ago I’d have said I expect promotion.
CC: How much did the makeup of the team change in the January window?
RC: Three significant signings were made in January with Reading striker Nick Blackman and Abdoul Camara from the top French division coming in, as well as Marcus Olsson from Blackburn to cover at left-back. Alex Pearce and Ryan Shotton left on loan, whilst Simon Dawkins (who scored two in the League Cup match at Craven Cottage last season) left for the USA.
The attack was strengthened in January but it now feels like the squad is perhaps too big and it must be difficult for the manager to keep everyone happy. Finding a settled XI has been tough. Finding a solution to how other teams set up against the Rams has also been difficult, teams have found Derby out and know what to do.
CC: You've only won one game since the last time you played Fulham. What has gone wrong?
RC: The simple answer is I don’t know. The squad is very strong, the investment has been colossal and the talent is there so what could go wrong? Confidence seems incredibly low and there is a bad atmosphere around supporters, with some calling for the manager to be sacked and general infighting on social media about who’s fault this and that is. I’d like to think that we are just one win away from kick-starting the season again but I’m really not sure. Clement is trying to find a team that gets the best out of his key players like Chris Martin and George Thorne but when confidence is down and things aren’t going your way does it make a difference?
I think in many ways this bad run of form is a reminder of the reality that you can’t buy or walk a league or expect the manager (who is in his first season as the man in charge) to get things right overnight. My confidence has naturally been wearing thin recently but I think there is enough quality in the squad and in the manager to get the team in the top six. Whether the team is ready for the Premier League is a question for another day after this recent slump. Off the field the club seems well places.
CC: Predicted lineup and score?
Carson; Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock; Thorne, Butterfield, Hendrick; Camara, Martin, Ince
I think it will be a scrappy and closely fought 1-0 away win with Chris Martin scoring.