Derby County’s 2018/19 Season.
Frank Lampard & Jody Morris’ Derby Legacy Has Been Started.
Under Garry Rowett, there was a feeling in and around the club that the football could have been better, despite reaching 2nd in the league, beating the likes of Aston Villa and Norwich City in the process. Garry Rowett’s style of play was not one to be admired, it was very direct and the channels were used a lot more than what the Derby fans were used to under the likes of Steve McClaren and Nigel Clough. However, when the team were getting results and quickly moved up the table, the fans turned a blind eye to the performances that were being put in. As soon as the odd bad result showed up, the fans were quick to question the integrity of Derby’s performances, and whether the ageing squad could go the full season at peak fitness. Matej Vydra’s goals started to dry up and Rowett’s ‘negative’ style was sussed by opposition managers, as they found out Derby’s midfield didn’t have legs and it was easy to play around them. The Rams did pick up slightly near the end of the season with victories over Barnsley and Fulham, but it was all too late. Now, Frank Lampard and Jody Morris have come in and instilled their style onto the players, and they’ve responded very well to the style being asked of them, with wins over Southampton and Wolves in pre-season.
The obvious injection of youth that Lampard has added is clear for all to see, this has dropped the average age of the squad down by 4 years, which is fantastic. Players like Mason Mount (19), Harry Wilson (21), Max Lowe (21) and Jack Marriott (23) are only a few examples of players that have been added to the squad that will either start or will be very close to starting. Luke Thomas (19) is a very exciting academy prospect being brought through by Lampard as well, and has looked quick and sharp in pre-season. The Lampard ‘effect’ cannot be ignored either, his presence at the club has been a huge factor when bringing in new signings, with Mason Mount already describing Lampard as his ‘idol’ while growing up and supporting Chelsea. The new system being brought onto the players is very much one that Derby fans will be familiar with, a 4-3-3 formation with a holding midfielder with two more aggressive and attacking midfielders in front. The wingers have the option to run in behind or come short, something that will depend on how the striker is playing. David Nugent, for example, will sometimes come short for the ball, or play on the defenders shoulder and ask for it in behind. The wingers will switch up their game depending on how the striker is asking to receive the ball. In pre-season the wingers have been very narrow, with Wilson playing as a ‘little Messi’ by getting into tight pockets of space and being able to get out of them with a dribble or pass. Mount is another that has caught my eye, the intelligence he is showing for a player that is only 19 is incredible, something we saw with a certain Will Hughes when he came through into Derby’s first team. Mount’s ability to pick up the ball and turn will be very important for Derby this season, and with the likes of Bryson, Wilson, Marriott, Jozefzoon and Lawrence in front of him, only good things can come of that. The worst thing about the 4-3-3 system in recent years has been when Derby don’t have the ball, the hunger and determination to win the ball back high up the pitch as fast as possible has been questioned, however in this pre-season the players have shown a real determination to go and win the ball back, as well as win their individual battles on the pitch. Craig Bryson’s fitness levels compared to what we saw from him in a Derby shirt last season isn’t even comparable, how he puts so much work in and play like he’s still 25 at 31 is immense. Tom Lawrence has had a mini revelation under Lampard, he has been playing a lot more narrow in pre-season, allowing him to run at people and score some very good goals, playing Tom narrow is the way to get the best out of him. Special mention to Max Lowe as well, who has, for me, most definitely stamped his place on that left hand side of defence, being compared to a ‘young Ashley Cole’ can only be seen as a compliment of the highest order. I believe we are going to see a fit, confident Max Lowe this season.
Where Do You Think Derby Will Finish This Season?
Predicted finish: 2nd.
I think we have the squad and individually talented players to do it this season, and with Lampard and Morris in the picture too, who are both winners, only good things can be seen from this season. However, I think Stoke will be a force, with all their parachute money and quality players they already have, and I think they will beat us to top spot in the Championship table, just.
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments below!