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Leicester City 11/12 Opponents Preview – Derby County

It’s time for another Npower Championship preview; this time around I turn my attentions to Leicester City’s East Midlands rivals Derby County. What can the Rams conjure up this season, can they secure another promotion challenge like they did in the Billy Davies era, or will another lowly mid-table finish happen again. Nigel Clough certainly has aspirations for Derby this season, can he keep to his word or will the campaign spiral out of control…

Derby Preview
Nigel Clough has set out big aspirations for his Derby side this season, frustrated of inconsistent performances Clough intends that his players perform better in the 11/12 campaign, whether or not they can progress under his guidance is another matter. This could be Clough’s last chance to make something happen at Pride Park, as the board are getting more and more discouraged with the insignificant mid-table places that Derby County are producing. Improvements need to be made, and the only way that can happen is by strengthening the side with new blood, aswell as trying to get them to gel in the early stages of the season. Clough has brought in appropriate positions, as he identified that the lack of prowess up front was becoming an ever increasing problem. Signing Jamie Ward and Theo Robinson on permanent deals will certainly help, but the 45 year old manager has decided to add further strikers to his squad, with the additions of Aberdeen’s Chris Maguire and Nathan Tyson from East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest, the main element for this season will be to score goals. Nigel Clough wants to guide Derby County amongst the top ten, and if he gets his side to gel a positive season may well be in store for the Pride Park faithful.

Key Players
Derby County will have a fair few key players for the upcoming season; one of which was an unknown prodigy that many fans hadn’t heard of before Derby County signed him up at the start of last season. John Brayford cemented himself as the Rams first choice right-back for the 10/11 campaign, with the potential to attack and defend Brayford quickly turned himself into a fans favourite at Pride Park, one of the most consistent performers at Derby County, manager Nigel Clough will be hoping that Brayford can produce the form that warranted him with last season’s Derby County supporters player of the year award. In the meantime Derby’s aspirations for the 2011/2012 season will be to improve their goalscoring rate, for many of months since the departures of Rob Hulse and Kris Commons the Rams have been powerless in front of goal. New signing Chris Maguire will be the main striker, only 22 years of age a lot is riding on the performances of the young Scot, after an outstanding record for the Scotland under 21’s Maguire is highly regarded as one of the most promising talents in Scottish football. This is a big season for Chris Maguire to show his real potential. Other key players include Captain Shaun Barker and tricky winger Jamie Ward.

Manager – Nigel Clough
This season is one of the biggest campaigns Nigel Clough has ever had to face, with Clough confirming his vital intentions of turning Derby into a force again, will he face his worst nightmare and not live up to his word, or can he actually turn the Rams into a top six side capable of promotion. Clough has always focused on the highs instead of the low, as another manager with potential goes about his business in a positive fashion, this season is a massive campaign for Clough, if he doesn’t deliver the goods the exit door maybe near. Derby looked in magnificent shape for part of the 2010/2011 season, as they found themselves sniffing around the play-offs. The Rams though tailed off and finished in a sluggish 19th place, Clough needs to be more consistent as the manager of Derby County, as the 2011/2012 season will be his biggest task to date.

Ins and Outs
Ins – Frankie Fielding(Blackburn), Jamie Ward(Sheffield Utd), Craig Bryson(Kilmarnock), Jason Shackell(Barnsley), Chris Maguire(Aberdeen), Theo Robinson(Millwall), Nathan Tyson(Nottingham Forest), Adam Legzdins(Burton)

Outs – Ben Pringle(Rotherham), Luke Varney(Portsmouth), Miles Addison(Barnsley), Chris Porter(Released), Arnaud Mendy(Released), Robbie Savage(Retired)

Overall Thoughts
Nigel Clough clearly wants Derby County to improve on recent lacklustre performances in the Npower Championship, he has intended the Rams to develop into an outfit that is capable of a play-off challenge, but despite stating all his objectives his new signings haven’t really proved themselves at Championship level, I feel that Derby County still haven’t replaced Rob Hulse and Kris Commons with two excellent players, therefore in my view it will be more of the same for Derby County, a mediocre mid-table finish. Prediction – 16th

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