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RamsWeek 28 - Rumour and Sigh
RamsWeek 28 - Rumour and Sigh
Sunday, 12th Jul 2009 13:22 by Paul Mortimer

Pre-season preparations were in full swing at Derby County with their first friendly outing at Burton Albion, whilst the transfer rumour mill continued to grind on at a moderate pace.

Media stories persisted about two of Derby’s star players, centre forward Rob Hulse and schemer Kris Commons being wanted for big money by other clubs. It was inevitable but unwelcome news to fans, who are tired of the unsettling rumours and no doubt sighing with concern at the possibility that the club’s best players may soon be poached by the vultures.

Certainly, the club would receive a lot of money should they be tempted to sell and would realise a hefty profit. Hulse cost Derby £1.5m a year ago but Commons moved to Pride Park Stadium from the Tricky Trees on a free transfer.

However, the impact on supporters would be profound as we hoped to see Clough mould his squad around such as top scorer and Player of the Year Hulse and the exciting Commons. Both are proven match-winners and are happy and integrated at Derby - and would cost a lot of money to replace satisfactorily.

Clough has only just been saying that at least his forward options are more or less sorted. What’s the point of taking (say) £6 for the pair and having to spend around the same amount for comparable players? Would the club make all such funds available to Nigel Clough for team building?

Concerns are being aired that we may be looking to take the money for our quality players and recruiting keen but untried lower-league players as a strategy. That’s simplistic but there will be a quality gap in the squad if stars depart; the players we have recruited so far this summer won’t fill that void. There’s the feeling that it’s all been a bit underwhelming so far at Derby County.

The club are at present making dismissive noises by stressing that they haven’t received any firm bids for the players. Clough said that there was ‘a possibility that one of them could leave’ but fans will want Derby to repel any bids and resist the temptation to cash in.

If the worst happens, some of those new Adidas shirt orders might be out of date even before they are delivered! By the way, the new away strip will see the Rams copy the gold and black of Burton Albion - you heard it here first!

If you are really daft and rich, you can BUY an extra 'Greenbank' logo now to put on your Adidas Derby shirt, the club has announced. Yep, you PAY for the privilege of advertising a secondary sponsor of the club; join the queue quick!

I sincerely suggest that the club puts any such receipts from that nonsense into the charity pot for the youngsters’ hospital ‘chill-out’ room or another worthy cause.

Overall though, most supporters would adjudge it a cruel betrayal if they weren’t able to enjoy Clough’s first season in charge with the club demonstrating that they will retain their most productive players. Nigel Clough’s priorities currently lie with recruiting more players in defence and midfield rather than going hunting for new forwards, so any departures from the forward line could be very disruptive.

Spirit, fight, hunger are all qualities we need more of (and some costly duds have been and gone – or must go - from recent seasons). However there is no substitute for a bit of quality amongst the willing grafters! If that’s missing from the sale of star players, fans’ optimism will turn to disgruntlement. Leaking goals as we have and not scoring as many as we managed last season would see us going backwards.

As it happened, both Hulse and Commons were rested after training niggles (unless you prefer to read a conspiracy in there, of course!) and took no part in the friendly at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium.

Under-used striker Liam Dickinson looked set to end his anonymous and unhappy spell at Derby County with Brighton & Hove Albion leading the interest in the young striker, on whom Paul Jewell spent £750,000 to then discard him.

Young Welsh international goalkeeper Lewis Price is poised to go out on a lengthy loan to give him first-team football; Price has done nothing wrong but has had to sit out the first-team contest as Roy Carroll and Stephen Bywater tussled for the jersey. Bywater is firmly established as Derby’s No 1 but Clough would need immediate back up for The Ratman, with both Carroll and Price on the move.

Burton’s ex-goalie Saul Deeney appears to be in the frame as he has been training with Derby and played the 2nd half at Burton - inbetween Derby’s sticks; he didn’t agree terms with the Brewers in the spring and so left the club. Another ex-Ram, the veteran Kevin Poole had displaced Deeney from Albion’s line-up during their promotion campaign last season.

Two trialists joined the Moor Farm training regime with ex-Norwich midfielder Mark Fotheringham and an ex-Fox, defender Patrick Kisnorbo being invited to take part in the Rams’ preparations. He’s an Aussie centre back who missed the 2nd half of Leicester’s promotion season through injury and was released; the centre back has also been training with Crystal Palace this month.

Fotheringham and Kisnorbo both played in the Burton friendly and figured well; unlike the other Rams’ players, they started both halves although Clough otherwise changed his side completely at the half-time break. Surprise, surprise, Liam Dickinson even got a brief second half run-out before being withdrawn with injury…that might be just about his only outing for DCFC (don’t bother reminding me if he took part in last season’s warm-up games!)

The Rams won 1-0 with a deft headed goal from Chris Porter in the 18th minute. Manager Clough got to use all his squad players and the two trialists during the game, which is all that was wanted at this stage. A crowd of 3,500 attended the match.

It’s not been a scintillating week of news regarding incoming players, then. The Burton ‘old boys’ club at Moor Farm grew yet further with Deeney being lined up to save goalkeeping wages and move on the other experienced net-minders temporarily or permanently.

The Shaun Barker and John Brayford transfer sagas trundle on without result. One other report linked Derby with Tottenham’s Welsh defender Chris Gunter; he’s a right back who cost Spurs £3m from Cardiff in January 2008.

If the Rams think that towards £1m is expensive for a centre back from Blackpool, I can hardly see them lashing out even more on a right back who hasn’t yet made much impression at Spurs. We’ll just take Tom Huddlestone back on loan, if that’s OK, ‘Arry mate!

Apart from an looking to loan an Arsenal Academy player like midfielder Mark Randall (19) or Villa’s Barry Bannan, Derby seem to be casting an eye over a miscellany of unattached and unwanted players to plug the gaps in the squad, though fans will keep wishing for some more ambitious and interesting news soon.

Another Derby fixture has been rearranged, with the Coventry match of 7th November now moved to the previous evening of Friday 6th for the benefit of Sky TV. Great: so much for the 17 Saturday 3 pm home games then that the Rams originally anticipated, with several switches announced so far for 2009-10.

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In RamsWeek 28 last year, the Rams scarpered to Holland for their first pre-season run-outs, with a dozen new recruits to integrate. Ten players who started the previous pre-season had left the club by then.

Derby lost 0-2 to Dutch 2nd division side Top Oss. The Rams were fairly flat and manager Jewell observed that they hadn’t lost the bad habits of giving the ball away and conceding goals cheaply. He was ‘livin’ in the future’ expecting a big improvement as newcomers gelled and the mentality changed.

There was plenty of anticipation for yet further signings and supporters looked forward to seeing the new signings in the English friendlies over the next few weeks.

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Photo: Action Images



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