OPINION: How long can Derby continue to be the nearly men?

“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” is a common cliché thrown around at the end of the football season. However, for Derby County, this seems to be a recurring theme.

With three changes of manager since the play off final defeat of 2014, the blame must finally be shifted from the management on to the players. All 3 came with different approaches, seeming to signal that the tactics are somewhat not an issue and instead it’s the personal in the squad who are to blame for the constant failure to get over the finish line.

Paul Clement was appointed as the club branded it “the next chapter” after Steve McClaren’s sacking due to being a little too flirtatious with now Championship rivals, Newcastle United. He brought with him a lack of managerial experience and attempted to continue to play towards the so-called Derby Way with fast, attacking football and performances to send the fans home happy. However, the Rams frailties at the back would ultimately be their downfall as they recorded no wins in 7 games and Clement was given the axe. Darren Wassall was seen as the man to steady the ship and guide Derby into the playoffs but the weakness of the players mentally which has haunted them in the past soon came to the forefront again as they conceded 3 goals in the last 15 minutes away at Rotherham to draw 3-3. This drew massive criticism from the fans, and rightly so, as they booed the management and players as they wandered over to the sold out away end at full-time.

The Rams would then fall 3-0 at home to ultimate Play Off winners Hull City in the first leg of the 2015/16 play-offs which seemed to be down to the players not being able to handle the weight of expectation that has surrounded them ever since the 2013/14 campaign. Although at the time the fans blamed tactical decisions by the manager for the failure as Will Hughes was seen as the best replacement for an injured George Thorne in the Central Defensive Midfield position.

However, how long can the Rams fans continue to blame the management and tactical errors for their constant failures?

When situations occur once or twice they may be passed off as coincidence, but as the Rams have struggled to reach the finish line 3 seasons in a row now having been in strong positions, the finger must be pointed elsewhere.

Nigel Pearson was appointed in late May and was seen as the man to finally take Derby to the next step. He soon sounded out the lack of “mental resilience” and looked to improve it during pre-season, however two games in and the Rams have failed to win or score, including a recent 2-0 defeat at recently promoted Barnsley. After the game Pearson again referred to the psychological problems within the squad which could indicate that he sees a big problem within the group and it may eventually have to be broken up.

This could only be good for the Rams and a rebuilding job could be exactly what they need as this current crop of players may just have reached their sell-by dates at the iPro as they struggle to cope with the ghosts of their pasts and the expectation which continues to rise year on year.

Derby have recently turned down offers of £6.5 million and £8 million for stars Chris Martin and Jeff Hendrick. However, after recent showings, they could be in a position to accept could the suitors show their faces with further bids, giving Pearson the chance to bring in his own men.

Where do you think Derby have gone wrong? leave a comment below

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