The feeling after Boro seemed to be: “At least they tried hard this time”, which only pisses me off even more, if I’m being really honest.
The sloppiness which typified the Sunderland and Burton games was gone… well, at least for 45 minutes. And apart from the goal.
In the end, two awful goals were conceded because of bad mistakes by senior players. On this occasion, I’d point to Bradley Johnson, failing to do anything to prevent Mo Bešić from waltzing into the area and then – alas – the recalled Richard Keogh, who, for reasons only he could explain, decided to stop marking Britt Assombalonga and charge like a witless chicken towards the ball, giving the former Forest man the most sickening of tap-ins.
As good as Adama Traoré was, the goals resulted not from moments of magic, but from lapses of concentration. Terrible decisions are being made, week after week, by players who are too old to improve.
For all the positive noises around the visibly increased effort and the new formation, the same howlers were ulitmately made and once the second one went in, nobody could have complained had Boro won 3-0, or 4-0, based on their clear chances. The Rams’ offensive effort, on the other hand, was the definition of ‘huff and puff’ – other than from Matej Vydra, who at times looked as though he rather be elsewhere, frankly.
Some wicked crosses were sent in on the day – a benefit of the extra width provided by the back three system – but with absolutely no takers, on any occasion.
Enough about that and onto tonight.
It’s all ready to unfold. Neil Warnock is ready to celebrate his umpteenth promotion. The mocking chants of “it’s happening again” are still reverberating around everyone’s mind and are ready for another airing. The unblinking eye of Sky Sports TV is ready to capture the latest chapter in another embarrassing Derby County collapse, the social media hordes cannot wait to gleefully retweet Sean Morrison’s horrific “banter” video. Of course we’re going to lose.
What else could possibly happen? We haven’t got a functioning team. Too many key players seem to be playing half-injured, or past it, or demotivated, or just plain calamity-prone. Gary Rowett has been left with no obvious way of fixing the crisis of confidence and also left to wonder whether he will get another crack at it next season.
Morrison will score first from a corner, of course he will. Then Warnock will make the game as horrible as possible for everyone, until Johnson gets sent off for nutting someone, Cameron Jerome pounces on a loose Bamba backpass, rounds the keeper and misses the target from three yards, before finally, poor old Keogh slices an aimless cross into the top corner of his own net for 0-2.
What if, instead, a 35-yard Tom Lawrence potshot deflects in off Morrison’s backside for 1-0. A galvanised Derby immediately form the Roma-inspired “Testudo” formation first spotted at Griffin Park this season and cling to their lucky lead like limpets. Warnock orders all ten of his outfield players to lie down injured in an attempt to have the game abandoned, but the ref simply waves “play on” and Keogh strides into the box before toe-punting it home. He attempts his patented “ramhorns” goal celebration, only to poke Lawrence in the eye and rule him out for the season, but that’s neither here not there.
Keogh then scores an own goal during twelve minutes of stoppage time – the result of an ill-considered “rondo” – but no matter. The Rams, outshot 25-2, win 2-1.
The reason this will definitely happen is because Peak Derby has not been reached yet.
Oh no. You don’t really think that they would let you relax with two whole games to go, do you? Not a chance. It would be too simple if this bunch of sadistic bastards lost this, lost at Villa, dropped to ninth or tenth and allowed everyone to do the conga around a dead rubber against Barnsley on the final day.
No. For reasons the likes of you and me will never understand, they will beat Cardiff, draw 0-0 at Villa, go into the final day sixth…
And then lose to Barnsley.