View from the South Stand - Derby County Play-offs
For the second season
in a row, Brighton and Hove Albion are into the SkyBet
Championship play-offs. This time around, it is Derby
County standing in our way in the semi final, the first
leg of which is at The Amex on Thursday 9th May.
Knowing that this seasons
games can't be any worse than last years, we sat down
with Nathan Morley from the
Derby County Fan
Blog to get the view from Pride Park or whatever
name the home of the Rams is masquerading under
How would you rank this season from a Derby County
It's been a magnificent season. The club's aim was to
reach the play-offs and more has been achieved than I
certainly expected, I predicted we'd finish 6th before
the season began. After a few years of mediocrity,
occasional flirts with the play-offs and some abysmal
weeks, finally there is something to shout about again.
It really was time the club pushed again, Nigel Clough
assembled a good mix of a squad with little amounts of
cash but it required someone else to make a final push
to the next level and to make a couple of tweaks with
the squad. Clough deserves credit for where Derby are
What was the reaction when Schteve McClaren got the
job and how well would you say he has done?
Well, our rivals Forest were all laughing and certain
things would go belly-up, meanwhile I think most Rams
fans, including myself, took a measured "let's wait and
see" approach. McClaren wouldn't exactly have topped a
list of fans' favourites for the job.
I think he has done very well on the pitch but also off
it in terms of his coaching work. The ex-England boss is
well known for his coaching abilities, testament to the
improvement in many players' games since his arrival and
the Premier League big boys trust in him to lend us
their future stars. Also, he has brought in a very
experienced and knowledgeable team behind him in Paul
Simpson and Eric Steele.
On the pitch, there has been a clear added tactical
nous. With Clough, it was always difficult to see a plan
B, now, the Mac seems to have things spot on.
Was automatic promotion ever really on the cards?
Not really, no. Derby haven't quite been consistent
enough for that. However, there was one occasion when
things looked very promising. In early March, the Rams
were just two points behind Burnley and the next game
was a trip to Turf Moor. I was beginning to dream,
unfortunately it wasn't to be and a very dubious red
card cost us that day.
Who have been the key men for you this season?
Firstly, there is Chris Martin. The free transfer has
bagged 23 goals this season and he is integral to the
way the Rams play, without him the team has struggled;
you only have to look at the dire 1-1 draw, when Martin
was rested, at the weekend. He's a horrible player to
play against, an absolute bully, he'll back into you and
be an all-round nuisance, however he does go down very
often; perhaps too often!
Craig Bryson, the box-to-midfielder, has a great return
of 16 goals this season. The man oozes energy and never
stops running for his team. Also in midfield, watch out
for the on loan George Thorne, who sits in the holding
position and plays some tremendous passes, he, too, is
vital to how the team operates.
How do you see our semi final going?
I think we'll win, I'm pretty confident. The recent form
has been good and I was hoping to face Brighton out of
the two chasing the 6th spot
down to the wire. It'll be a tight affair at the Amex, I
believe the Rams will nick a win and come home and seal
Who do you think will ultimately end up promoted?
Again, I'm quite confident. The other semi-final looks
like it'll be a cracker for the neutral; I reckon Wigan
will come out on top in that one and then and a Rams
win, though, looking at both Wigan and QPR's squads, I
am fearful; they have good big game and ground
experience, which could come through for them.
Nonetheless, I'm happy with the Derby team and I really
think this is our year.
thanks to Nathan for taking the time to discuss the play
offs with us. He seems pretty confident of a Derby win,
so if it is Oscar's men heading to Wembley you can
always remind him of that by sending him a