Unsurprisingly, the kick in the balls that was defeat at Leeds United cast something of a shadow on the debate, but as Chris pointed out, it’s very important not to be swayed by individual results – we have to look at the overall trend, rather than the occasional bump in the road.
A few points, to expand on topics that we touched on in the debate:-
- Bryson hasn’t played regularly for some time now and has said himself that he needs a run of games to get back to full sharpness. I don’t want to slate him and am certainly not prepared to write him off, but we really need more from him, because the midfield three needs at least one player who can break into the box. None of the others on the books seem capable of doing that, so fingers crossed he has a couple more seasons in him yet. Otherwise, we may have to look at recruiting a replacement for Hendrick.
- Pearce v Shackell – I understand why McClaren gave Shackell the nod at Leeds, given that Shackell was by general agreement man of the match at The Hawthorns. If a player is given a chance and does really well, what does it do to his morale if you then drop him? I’d also add that I don’t think we lost at Leeds because of the centre backs.However, it’s obvious that the fans have taken Pearce to their hearts and want him back in the team. This is a hard situation for McClaren to manage, but certainly, the people have spoken.
- Butterfield – Chris correctly pointed out that Butterfield has not scored this season. I think it’s worth pointing out that he has had more shots than any Derby player this season except for Ince – 47, of which, only nine have been on target. The main reason being that 37 of those shots have been from long range. Everyone remembers the beautiful strikes from last season, but those goals are the exception that proves the rule.Butterfield is a neat and tidy player who knits things together and passes well, but he can’t drive into the box – so I see his role in our squad as providing cover for Hughes.
(This shot detail infographic illustrates just how much we have relied on Ince this season for attacking threat, let alone goals, this season – best viewed on Piktochart)
- Ageing players – The club has developed what I believe is an unhealthy habit of awarding long-term contracts to players who are getting to the end of their careers. Shackell will be almost 35 by the time his deal expires. Bent will be 33, Bryson 32, Johnson 32, Anya 32, Olsson 31. This pattern has continued, with Nugent contracted until 2019, by which time he will be 34. This is no good. It’s almost as if the club are being blinded by reputations – they are not getting out there and finding younger players with scope to develop from McClaren’s much hyped coaching abilities and form the core of the team for the long-term.
- Who would you lose from this squad? Joel asked Jonathan the question and my answer, in this window anyway, would have been ‘Camara’. He’s been here for a year now and he’s 26 – not a kid. It would be wonderful if he proved me wrong, but I honestly feel that if he was capable of doing it at Championship level, then he would be doing it by now. If there is an opportunity to sell him back to France, it seems wise to cut our losses and take it.
- Chris Martin – (Sigh…) I take Chris’ point about ‘moving on’, but it’s not possible to move on until we’ve got the dosh he’s worth. That is the problem – we’re in this limbo phase and it’s affected the club negatively. The situation is a complete mess and clearly still a long way from being resolved. This will drag on until next summer. In the meanwhile, it’s perfectly possible that Martin’s goals will help propel Fulham into the play-offs and thence the Premier League, while we continue to struggle to score and pine for a ‘Martin type’ to hold up the bloody football….