Tag Archives: Derby County

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

FOREST 1-0 DERBY

Nottingham Forest made it 3 consecutive east-midlands derby wins for the first time since 1990, by beating the Rams 1-0 at the City Ground. The win also means it is 8 consecutive visits and 7 years since Derby’s last win in Nottingham and keeps Forest in the Top 6 whilst Derby stay in the bottom half of the league table.

The goal came following a mistake by Derby right back Jaden Bogle, when a loose pass across his defensive line went straight to Grabban who smartly finished first time into the bottom corner. Grabban spoke about the goal:

“I had a little glance at where the keeper was and it looked like he hadn’t covered the near post so I just tried to aim for that and fortunately it went in.” He added: “The main thing was that we got the win. It was good for the fans, so I’m very happy. Their support gives us that little bit of a boost.”

In scoring, Grabban upped his tally for the season to seven, meaning he has now scored 80 times in the EFL since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, four more than any other player.

The match started evenly amid a raucous atmosphere at The City Ground and it was Forest keeper Brice Samba who was the first keeper called into action, doing well to keep out Tom Lawrence’s shot from inside the penalty area following a good run by Bogle. Lawrence was unsurprisingly constantly jeered by the home faithful following the drink driving scandal, however, he was probably Derby’s main threat and handled the reception well. That was until a second-half challenge on Yuri Ribeiro which he saw yellow.

It was extremely competitive, with both sides fighting for the ball and putting in committed challenges. Bogle and Ben Watson were both shown yellow cards for fouls on halfway, whilst Ryan Yates was somewhat fortunate not to be added to the list of booking’s following a challenge on Clarke, who had to be replaced.

Forest were effective in pressing the Derby backline and won the ball high up the pitch a few times, possibly leading to the goal. Forest’s best efforts in the first half both came from winger Sammy Ameobi who shot twice from the left-hand corner of the penalty area to force Derby Keeper Roos into decent saves.

The second half started with The Reds firmly in the ascendancy, applying plenty of pressure on the Derby goal. Several crosses were fizzed into the area, with only glancing headers from a Derby defender keeping the ball away from danger. It was just before the hour-mark when Derby were their own worst enemy in making the costly mistake which gave Forest the lead.

Forest sensed they could put the game beyond doubt as Derby were on the ropes following the mistake, but couldn’t find the second goal. Derby came back into the game towards the end and the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jack Marriott had a sniff of goal, but The Reds defended resolutely to hold onto their one-goal lead and claim a brilliant victory against their arch-rivals.

Man of the match

Tiago Silva – The Portuguese midfielder put in an outstanding performance, he had great energy, tenacity and put in some great tackles. Along with that, he showed his skill with some lovely touches to beat opposition players. When Silva was signed from Benfica in the summer many forest fans assumer he would an alternative to fellow Portuguese playmaker João Carvalho, however, he has shown he is a more all-round midfielder than João.

Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was delighted to claim victory in his second East Midlands derby of the season. Lamouchi was satisfied with his side’s second-half display which he believed was a marked improvement on the first 45 minutes. Speaking after the game, he said:

“It was a difficult, emotional game and maybe that is why we found it difficult in the first half. The second half was much better and fortunately, they made a mistake at the back and Grabbs produced another fantastic finish like the killer that he is. It was important for us to be compact, patient and focused and in the end, I think we deserved the victory because in the second half we went out for the three points. After the goal, I put more attacking players on the field to try and get that second goal but it wasn’t meant to be. It has been a good day, the perfect way to spend my birthday, and I am happy that our supporters could enjoy it too. When we play with this sort of attitude and character then we can always win games like this. We know we can still play better and control the ball better but it is important that we take three points when we don’t play at our best. It is a fantastic result and I’m happy because we’ve made our fans proud of the players. Now we can go into the international break with a positive mentality before we come back to play Bristol City.”

Nottingham Forest v Derby County Preview

It doesn’t get any bigger than this for Nottingham Forest and Derby, in particular, the Fans, they look forward to it from the moment the fixtures are announced in pre-season.

No other match brings the anticipation, excitement, and nerves that this one does. A win will last long in the memory whilst a defeat will haunt you, it’s quite simply the biggest match of the season.

The sides have already met at the City Ground this season, just over 2 months ago Forest ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.

How ever satisfying that night was, this will mean so much more as that night was almost 2 second-string sides.

TEAM NEWS

Forest will more than likely still be without key trio Michael Dawson, Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo. The trio’s absence played a massive role in the recent defeats to Wigan and Hull City, Dawson was said to back in training this week, however a place in the team remains unlikely.

The return of Ryan Yates in midfield helped fill the void left by Sow and Semedo in last weekend’s win over Luton.

I would largely stick with that line up with only Jack Robinson coming in to provide extra defensive nous at left back for Yuri Ribeiro.

Tom Lawrence, who has endured a challenging couple of months after being convicted of drink-driving, netted two goals in Saturday’s Pride Park win over Middlesbrough, a fourth straight home success. He is a key man for Derby, but in my opinion he shouldn’t be available for selection following the drink-driving incident, which also involved teammate Mason Bennett and saw Captain Richard Keogh injured for the season and subsequently suspended by the club.

The Professional Footballers’ Association has said it will “robustly defend” Richard Keogh after his dismissal, the BBC has reported.

Lawrence and Bennett were both fined six weeks’ wages by the Rams and pleaded guilty to drink driving. “We will robustly defend our member because we feel he has been unfairly treated,” said a PFA spokesman.

Keogh, 33, suffered a knee injury in the crash on 24 September and will be out for around 15 months. His contract was due to expire in 2021.

It is understood Derby offered Keogh a revised deal on reduced wages. The player will appeal against Derby’s decision and the PFA have told him they will back him in that and any subsequent challenge to his dismissal because they do not view the treatment of Keogh as being in line with the action taken against Lawrence and Bennett.

In announcing Keogh’s dismissal, Derby said they would not comment further until the outcome of any appeal was known.

In any other professionalism if you are convicted of a serious crime your job would be at risk. The fact that Lawrence is a professional footballer, who is in the public eye and gets to play is sending out the wrong message.

Lawrence is set for unpleasant reception on Saturday but says Derby will be ready for the cauldron atmosphere awaiting them at – and is plotting to silence a sold-out City Ground.

“We all know how big this game is coming on Saturday so we will be ready for it.

“Yes, as expected,” the 25-year-old then said when asked about the vibrant Trentside atmosphere, saying his teammates know what’s needed to record a rare win in Nottingham.

The Rams are looking to claim a first win on Trentside since September 2012, and in the process dent Forest’s promotion hopes.

Form Guide

Forest got back to winning ways last weekend with a 2-1 success away at Luton, this was a vital victory following 2 successive defeats at Wigan and Home to Hull City as the last thing Forest would have wanted would have been to go into the Derby game on the back of three successive defeats.

Although, Forest defender Joe Worrall says, “On track? We were never off it” previous to these defeats Forest hadn’t lost in the league since the opening day of the season and they sit 5th in the table (with a game in hand due to the match against reading being postponed) and have an opportunity to close the gap on league leaders, West Bromwich Albion who are five points in front.

Derby are 10 places below, but only four points behind Forest.

Their home form has kept them in touch with the top six, however, on the road, things have been marked different for the Rams who haven’t tasted victory since the opening night at Huddersfield.

It is sure to be a heated encounter, as ever. A strong referee that won’t fall for any nonsense will be required, there will be some strong challenges and players trying to deceive the referee and it is vital he doesn’t lose control.

He can’t produce unnecessary cards or let players get away with anything early on.

Darren England will be the man in the middle for the match, he has officiated two Forest matches already this season, with the Reds suffering defeats on both occasions.

The pre-match build-up will be added to as Forest will pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in conflict ahead of the match at the City Ground.

Before kick-off, there will be a performance of the Last Post from the Military band, while both sets of players will be sporting the poppy on the front of their shirts for the game itself.

Derby County skipper, Richard Keogh sacked for gross misconduct

Republic of Ireland international, Richard Keogh has been sacked by Derby County over his involvement in a drink driving crash, that’s resulted in two of his team mates arrested.

The 33 year old sustained a serious knee ligament damage that has ruled him out for up to 15 months after midfielder, Tom Lawrence crashed into a lamppost.

Both Lawerence and forward, Mason Bennett pleaded guilty to drink driving.

Keogh started his career off at Stoke City but failed to make an impact and went to Icelandic side, Víkingur on loan before moving to Bristol City; after only 40 appearances and four loan spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Huddersfield Town, Carlisle United and Cheltenham Town.

The defender was sold to Carlisle United for an undisclosed fee, where he went on to make 95 appearances.

After an impressive spell in League One, he was sold to Championship side, Coventry City, where he became a real fans favourite. He played every minute of every game for the 2010-11 season and scored his first goal for Coventry on the last game of the season against Norwich. He was voted Players’ Player of the Year at the end of the 2010–11 season awards for Coventry City.

Keogh played every game for Coventry since signing for the club, until his unfortunate dismissal in the game at home to Doncaster Rovers on 21 April 2012, which brought an end to a run of 91 consecutive games played.

Despite Coventry City’s relegation from the Championship, Keogh won the Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season at Coventry’s end of season awards. He also won the Players’ Player of the Year awards.

After a brilliant two year spell at Coventry, Keogh had to be sold for ongoing money problems the Sky Blues faced.

Keogh was sold to Derby and went on to make 355 appearances for the Rams. Where he won six individual awards as Player of the year, Players’ Player of the year and Supporters’ Player of the year.

In a statement regarding Keogh leaving Derby, the Championship club said that they had “completed the disciplinary hearing regarding Richard Keogh in respect of his involvement in the events of Tuesday 24th September” and that his contract had been “terminated with immediate effect”.

“As we have said from the outset, the club will not tolerate any of its players or staff behaving in a manner which puts themselves, their colleagues, and members of the general public at risk of injury or worse, or which brings the club into disrepute,”

However, Keogh was not driving either car and was just a passenger. Lawerence and Bennett, who were both driving, were fined six weeks’ wages by the club, while Derby magistrates’ court ordered the players to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, gave them a 12-month community order and banned them from driving for two years.

Leeds Blow Derby Revenge

It was the same old story for Leeds United at Elland Road for the Championship’s early kick off, as the Whites conceded in stoppage time to make it 1-1 against a Derby County side they had previously dominated. 

United bossed the first half, and took the lead through a Max Lowe own goal before Mateusz Klich put a second half penalty wide. That miss proved costly, with Chris Martin sliding in the Rams’ only shot on target of the game in added time. 

“I said to the players ‘stay in the game’ because the way they play – which is really good – they’re expending a lot of energy. To keep this going for 90 minutes is difficult I think”, said Derby manager Phillip Cocu. 

The Dutchman was proved right, as Leeds appeared to blow themselves out after a furious first half.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men went about their business in fine fashion pressing and haranguing Derby, making sure they barely got a look-in. 

Clear openings were slow to come by, but did eventually come as Jack Harrison saw his close range effort saved by Kelle Roos after excellent work from Stuart Dallas on the right. 

The opener was to come just a minute later though. A Kalvin Phillips free-kick was turned back across goal by the flailing leg of Patrick Bamford. Dallas arrived to turn it towards goal and although his strike was saved by Roos, it rebounded back in off the unfortunate Max Lowe. 

Dallas did nearly have his goal soon after as Roos turned over the Northern Irishman’s effort from the edge of the area, before beating away a Jack Harrison strike from a similar range. 

Bamford continued to struggle in front of goal for United after his early season form. The former Middlesbrough man blazed over the bar after being put through on goal at the end of the first half.

The second half saw then saw a completely different Leeds to the first. Perhaps it was the hot weather or the early kick off, but the home side looked sluggish after half time, and their previous intensity fell off a cliff edge. 

More fine play from Dallas on the right saw Bamford hit the post from close range a couple of minutes into the half, but from then on the Whites’ foot was off the accelerator. 

A quiet second half played out, before Bamford earned his side a pivotal penalty in the 69th minute. Pablo Hernandez played the centre forward in, and his weaving run into the Derby box drew out a clumsy challenge. 

Klich stepped up with a slow run-up, just as he had last week against Barnsley successfully. The run-up itself went well, selling Roos completely the opposite way. But Klich, almost comically, was only able to roll the ball the wrong side of the post. 

What was left of United’s energy reserves now seemed to completely dissipate, especially from Klich who had previously had a superb game setting the tempo in midfield. 

Derby began to ease their way back into it and shifted higher and higher up the pitch, with Leeds becoming increasingly bedraggled. 

The moment for the Rams finally came in added time. A ball from the right found Jamie Paterson on the edge of the area, who had made a positive difference for Derby since his introduction. 

He turned neatly and laid the ball on a plate for fellow substitute Martin, who cooly placed the ball past Kiko Casilla. 

Regardless of the fact that Leeds had slipped off in the second half, it was a somewhat undeserved point for County. Leeds will be ruing missed opportunities as more home points slip through their grasp.