Six games into the new season and already a worrying trend is being observed.
Derby County’s lack of goals has not gone unnoticed by the manager, the press and obviously the fans – who are always quick to point out these kind of deficiencies.
Scoring has not really been too much of a problem for the Rams over the last three or four seasons; from the Steve McClaren free scoring era right through to Darren Wassall’s short, but eventful, tenure, the goals kept on coming.
Even the last knockings of Nigel Clough’s reign saw a fair few goals. So why does this feel different to those past seasons?
Here are three reasons why I think we are going to be less formidable in front of goal this season…
The new manager effect
As mentioned in previous articles, with a new manager comes new ideas and formations for the squad to get used to.
Nigel Pearson is more or less a stickler for a 4-4-2 formation, which this group of players have struggled with previously, and this is certainly shining through in the first six matches.
It’s in the attacking third where the problem is. As fans we always assume that a professional footballer, who is paid a lot of money, should be able to grasp a simple change in formation and change of ideas. It appears as though however, there’s more of a science behind a changing of ideas, that as fans we aren’t sympathetic to – and it certainly doesn’t appear that the Rams’ current squad members took science at school.
If this shift in ideas is going to be a long process, which I suspect it might be, then maybe Derby fans will have to re-evaluate their expectations for this season and look at the bigger picture of getting it right next term.
Players out of form
Our current crop of attacking players include experienced Championship players, such as: Chris Martin, Darren Bent, Nick Blackman, Tom Ince, Johnny Russell, Abdoul Camara and Andreas Weimann.
It would be unfair to criticise Camara, who has not featured much and Weimann, who is injured. However, the rest are not setting the world on fire with their finishing.
The point does stand that they haven’t really had great service, but Martin, who I personally like a lot, is cutting a solemn figure at the moment and is in the middle of another goal drought. Blackman has not looked like being in the kind of form he was enjoying during his time at Reading, even when given the opportunity to play in his favoured position as a striker.
Ince and Russell have actually been playing quite well without, unfortunately, threatening a goal between them. This leaves Bent – who certainly seems to divide opinion with the home faithful.
He has looked the more likely to score this season, and has indeed done so, but this new formation suits him more than any other.
Are we just not good enough?
This is a question has been raised on more than one occasion on social media, along with many others, about our current squad of players.
‘Is Bent past his best?’ is always a reoccurring one – he is a quality striker with over 100 Premier League goals in his career. However, it’s down to Mr Pearson to decide if he is going to be a big part of this team this season.
Blackman certainly hasn’t made the most of his opportunities so far and cannot play in wide positions with any effect, so he may fall by the wayside. Martin remains this team’s talisman and offers so much more to the team than his goals, however, should that be enough to keep him in this team and in Pearson’s plans going forward? I certainly fear the worst for him.
Ince can be a match winner on his day, but do we see that often enough? Probably not – but I see him being a big part of the team this season, as I also do with Russell. Although again does Johnny score enough goals?
His style of play and passion for the cause makes him a fans favourite. As fans, we have to hope that these questions, along with many more, are being analysed by our esteemed group of coaching staff on a regular basis.
The addition of James Wilson on a season-long loan from Manchester United I think tells us that the staff are worried about our lack of goals, he will bring with him some much needed pace to add to the mix.
Let’s hope this article goes up in smoke if the Rams can put a hatful past Burton Albion on Friday night. In the past 48 hours, we’ve seen that with the right attacking options and a few touches of quality, they are certainly there for the taking.