As we near the end of 2009 it’s time to reflect on the year and the trials and tribulations that have affected Derby County.
The year started with lots of positivity, Nigel Clough took over as manager in early January and installed a fresh approach to all aspects of running the club.
On the pitch the Rams had two of their best cup runs in recent times; they had their best victory of the year very early on when they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the home leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. It was a 25-yard drive from Kris Commons that won the game for the Rams on the night that Clough was unveiled to the Derby faithful.
In the return leg the Rams didn’t just roll over, they put up a brave fight at Old Trafford but eventually lost the game 4-2 and the tie 4-3 on aggregate.
In the FA Cup the Rams beat arch rivals Nottingham Forest in the fourth round and set up a rematch with Manchester United in the fifth round. The game at Pride Park was much more one-sided than the Carling Cup game in January and the Red Devils ran out 4-1 winners.
In the league the Rams have struggled to make much of an impact on the top half of the division. The end of the 08/09 season saw the Rams battle to stay out of the relegation zone; and although the 09/10 season began with more optimism it has been more of the same as the Rams fight to stay in mid-table obscurity.
At the end of the 2008/09 season Nigel Clough looked to trim his squad and the wage bill, which he has been successful in doing, sadly, the club have not moved onto the level that everyone was hoping they would do. That shouldn’t take anything away from what Nigel Clough has done at the club since his arrival in January, when the team perform to their best abilities they are very good, but there are still defensive worries that need to be addressed before this squad can push up the division.
Looking at the table today Derby sit in 18th position in the Championship, with a decent run during the second half of this season a top 10 finish is not out of the question but in reality if Derby finish any higher than 16th that should be consider a success. Nigel Clough is slowly rebuilding Derby County after Billy Davies and Paul Jewell recklessly frittered money away searching for a quick fix. Clough is all about the long term, the fans continue to be on his side and believe in what he is doing at the club. 2010 will be a big year for Clough, as he will be expected to keep Derby improving and pushing up the division.