Here begins another season, with the Rams beginning the third season in four with a new manager in charge at the iPro Stadium.
Nigel Pearson is the new man at the helm this time round, for what all Rams fans are hoping will be another promotion challenging season and he comes with a healthy pedigree, having been the man who many say was instrumental in starting the success story at Leicester City.
Chairman Mel Morris will surely be hoping that Pearson’s experience will shine through and ensure that come May time, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest are licking their wounds after both clubs took too long to make a decision on who to employ as manager after Pearson had interviews at both of the Midlands outfits.
Pearson immediately made Chris Powell his second in command, someone who not only has worked with him before at Leicester, but who is a fan’s favourite here at Derby. Ex-player Inigo Idiakez, who was also well liked at [the then called] Pride Park, was brought in. As a dead-ball specialist, hopefully Idiakez can solve the great issue of the Rams not being able to take a decent corner – free kick!
Over the past three seasons or so, what formation each manager has decided to employ has been a huge talking point, and seemingly larger headache for the manager himself. The Rams have tried a fluid 4-3-3/4-5-1 system and the 4-4-2 format, thus what formation the Rams would play under Pearson seemed to be the main question that needed to be answered.
The tried and trusted 4-3-3 that the last three Derby coach’s had relied on had come under criticism from many fans and press alike – especially when a lack of an alternative formation during games where it wasn’t going Derby’s way was evident.
Pearson has traditionally played 4-4-2 and indeed it was that formation that was used with limited success in the Rams’ first league game against Brighton last Saturday, although some might argue that it was more 4-4-1-1.
Derby did look a little disjointed for a portion of Saturday’s game and hopefully that was down to the players getting used to playing in a formation they are simply not used to playing in.
It’s going to take time, but that is not really something the staff and players have at Derby, as although it’s always a long season, this season’s group of teams looks like the toughest it’s been for a while. Will the Rams’ new manager stick to one way of playing?
He’s already hinted that he will play certain players or formations to suit the opposition – which can only be a good thing and hopefully the quality in Derby’s squad will manage this. However, it also means that very good players and fans’ favourites are not guaranteed to play every week.
Chris Martin, who has been the Rams’ top scorer for the last three seasons and Will Hughes, who for many should be one of the first names on any team sheet, are not certain to play week in week out. Even Jeff Hendrick, who is being valued at around £10m may have to sit out and wait his turn.
In the last few weeks, and despite the quality already in the squad, it has been the lack of summer signings that has been hot topic amongst Rams fans. Before the start of the season, it was evident that Pearson seemed to be happy with the squad of players he has and also more than happy to give every player a chance to prove themselves.
However a recent interview hinted that a couple of bids for players had been made. A £7m bid has apparently been made for Sheffield Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri, with rumours of a couple more strikers in Nakhi Wells of Huddersfield Town and Jonathan Kodjia of Bristol City also emerging as targets.
Whether Pearson manages to get any of these signings remains to be seen, but it certainly looks like he is looking for a pacey striker to play with either Martin or Darren Bent in attack.
If any of those players do end up at Derby, then there would certainly be some very good attacking options for Pearson and his new staff to play with for the rest of the season.