What an amazing 11 days for Derby County! The league leaders Newcastle and bitter rivals Nottingham Forest have both been beaten at Pride Park, and the Rams came so close to beating Sheffield United at Bramhall Lane but had to settle for a point.
Derby will be hoping that they can continue to play the better teams in the league, as their performances against these sides have been excellent. Newcastle have only taken a point off Derby this season, West Brom couldn’t beat the Rams at home and Forest were defeated by an excellent performance at Pride Park. However everyone knows that it is against the teams around them that Derby need to starting winning, and hopefully this will start against Preston North End.
So after a turbulent December and a troublesome start to 2010 Derby County appear to be finally making strides in the right direction. Many will be asking why? What has changed over the past weeks? Well rather than one reason there appears to be quite a few factors in the Rams revival.
Reduction in injuries
Derby’s season has been blighted by injury problems which have made it impossible for Nigel Clough to select his best eleven very often. 2010 has seen more and more players come back from injury and maintain their fitness rather than breaking down soon after “recovery.”
With less players on the physio’s table Nigel Clough has been able to name a settled side, this is emphasised by the fact that the home victory over Newcastle was the first time this season Derby have named an unchanged side. That’s the first time in 30 games it has been possible for the Derby manager to do!
Derby have also been able to name the same back four in the last three matches and this consistency has seen only one goal conceded, and seeing as the matches were against three of the top six is an impressive statistic.
Consistent team selection sees player confidence grow in both themselves and the team. Whether Robbie Savage’s outburst in late January had any impact on this I don’t know but there has been a significant improvement since.
For the attacking players goals help confidence grow and the Rams have scored in their last four matches.
For the defensive players clean sheets build the confidence and two clean sheets against the top two sides in the division is an even bigger boost.
Home sweet home
Derby’s home record this season is very good, they have won x out of the x games they have played; however during the Christmas period Pride Park became a tough place for the Rams to get a result. The turnaround of this form began in January with victory over x and now after back-to-back victories over Forest and Newcastle confidence is high and playing at home is a big advantage again. With the next three matches against Birmingham (FA Cup), Preston and Swansea all being at home confidence is high amongst players and fans that victories can be gained.
So all is rosy in the world of Derby County again?
Yes it is, but everyone involved with the club cannot take this upturn in form to mean we are now in a safe position. Unfortunately given the unpredictable nature of the Championship Derby haven’t extended the gap between them and the relegation zone as teams in-and-around the Rams have also picked up three points.
After the victory over Newcastle Derby are in 18th position and are four points clear of Reading (who are third bottom) but many of the teams below Derby have games in hand, so there is still hard work to be done.
But for now lets all just sit back and reminisce about the past two home victories!!!