So five matches in and the Rams are still looking for that elusive first win. Time to panic yet?
The Championship is certainly not the place for weak minds and the faint-hearted, especially where a manager is concerned. When Paul Clement was announced as the new head coach in June I don’t think he would have envisaged this start to his managerial career. He has definitely not had luck on his side at all yet. To lose one of his prized assets in the first 30 minutes of his opening league game certainly didn’t help. To lose three more midfielders in his first two games borders on the ludicrous.
But every team has injury problems, it is part of football and I’m sure he’s aware of that. New formations and styles of play has not helped the cause much either. Does he in fact know his best starting 11 yet? Who knows? But it is early days and we shouldn’t be panicking at all.
Performance wise we’ve been pretty strong with some notable exceptions; the first half against Boro’ and the very poor first 45 minutes against Leeds on Saturday. In fact that first half against our old rivals on Saturday was greeted with a chorus of boos. I’m not condoning the booing of our players in any way and it’s something I would never do, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
The most shocking element of the anger was displayed when ‘fans’ called in on local radio after the game looking for Clement’s head. A few wins down the line and I’m sure the very same people will be hailing him as the next England manager.
One of the main problems, for me, has been certain members of the squad not performing to the levels that are expected of them. This could possibly be a hangover from last season but they need to get that out of their system.
And as I write this piece we’ve strengthened that squad still further with the deadline day signings of Jacob Butterfield and Bradley Johnson from Huddersfield Town and Norwich City respectively. Spending in the region of £10 million is certainly showing the Chairman’s backing of our head coach.
Time to panic yet? No of course not, it would be absolute folly to suggest otherwise. But if I were to play devil’s advocate here are two ways to look at our current situation……
1. The last time we tried to spend big to get out of the second tier of English football was way back in early 90s when a certain Arthur Cox brought expensive new signings in. The likes of Marco Gabbiadini, Tommy Johnson, Paul Simpson and Craig Short. That never worked for him.
2. The last time we appointed a new man in his first managerial post in Phil Brown, he lasted seven months before being sacked.
We should remember that these examples are fairly extreme should not be compared to now quite yet, especially if we are to achieve stability on the way to a (still probable) promotion.
This leads me on to one last thing I saw on social media. Back in 1995 Jim Smith’s promotion winning season started one win and three defeats in his first six games! In 2006 our old friend Billy Davies started our play-off winning campaign with one win and three defeats in his first six games!
So don’t panic Rams fans, we just need that first win.