Lingy and I did another podcast last night and I think in some ways, attempting a live commentary allows you be to be slightly more dispassionate than you would be in the stands. I’ve avoided message boards and Twitter as much as possible since the result and will limit myself to a couple of observations before I get down to editing the podcast files.
Firstly, before kick off, I read out the team as Bywater; Brayford, Barker, Addison, Roberts; Savage, Bailey; Green, Commons, Pringle; Porter.
My theory is that Brayford was deployed at centre back because Clough was worried that a lack of pace in that position would leave us vulnerable to balls tossed over the top for the nippy striker, Tubbs, to chase. It worked, to an extent, but of course, we lost the ability of Brayford to make game-changing bursts from right full-back. Clough no longer trusts Leacock and so there was nobody else to play centre back alongside Barker.
Clough obviously wants his defenders to show spirit and tenacity; hence he loves Barker and Brayford and has apparently given up on Leacock. Unfortunately, the team is suffering, as we lose the best qualities of Green and Brayford whilst they cover positions they aren’t particularly suited to.
It would seem that Clough is desperate to change personnel, but it would also seem that there is no money to do it, so players will have to leave first. I would imagine that Clough will accept the departure of Leacock, Green and Commons in order to recruit new blood.
Back to the team selection – no Bueno. Lingy theorised that Clough felt it might be best to hold him back until Crawley had tired a little (Tubbs’ despicable tackle on Savage showed he might have had a point), but in fact, Bueno wasn’t risked at all. I just don’t get why Cywka was introduced for Pringle, not Bueno – and Clough wasn’t available to take questions after the match.
On the plus side, Addison made it through 90 minutes and showed his strength by scoring (and celebrated like it meant something). His strength and character might well be exactly what we need. I thought Bailey played quite well too – although his panic after we conceded was betrayed, when he was booked for a rash tackle after missing his kick to give away possession. It was a rush of blood caused by embarrassment. Unfortunately, he was also the defender on the edge of the box when the low, skidding 90th minute corner fizzed straight across the box and allowed Sergio Torres to become a Crawley Town legend.
The media blackout led to speculation that Clough might be sacked and nobody was more relieved than me to read his statement of apology, which turned up on the club’s website this afternoon.
BBC Radio Derby were extremely cross that he refused to speak to them after the game, which won’t have helped his cause any – especially when there are no end of people of limited intelligence who’ve been desperate for him to be sacked since the day before he was appointed and like to ring the Colins up every week. Radio Derby will certainly be less inclined to defend Clough from these yahoos if he doesn’t speak to them – hence a story ‘Rams fans vent fury’ turns up on their website in the absence of any official comment.
It’s a mess. The season has threatened to drop into freefall and the last thing we need is the visit of a well-drilled Forest prepped for the Billy Davies promotion push, after a trip to Watford. What we do need is a couple of new players, to freshen things up. The squad is palpably too thin and has been since the start of the season. We’re now reaping the ‘rewards’ of that.
I’ve always defended Clough from his most egregious critics, because in the past two years, he’s done a lot of good things. He’s also made plenty of mistakes and his team selections for the Forest and Crawley games must have lost him support. He knows himself it’s a results business and the fans will desert him if we stop winning. Attendances are already in decline (24,500 odd at the moment). That said, the board know damned well that they owe Clough for implementing their cost-cutting measures whilst managing to retain with some vestiges of class – not that this will save him if the bottom drops out of the team’s form.
For Christ’s sake Glick, back your manager in this transfer window. It won’t take multi-millions to get this squad to top-eight level.
I’m tired, it’s late.