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Derby County fans have been expectant of promotion to the Premier League ever since Steve McClaren’s massive over-achievement of taking the East Midlands club to the Championship playoff final in 2014.
This was followed up by missing out on the playoffs a year later before the start of numerous managerial changes. Although Derby did make the playoffs at the end of the 2015-16 season they were hammered 3-0 at home by Hull City in the first leg and subsequently eliminated.
Well out of contention
The Rams were well out of playoff contention last season even before the appointment of Gary Rowett.
Rowett was a highly-rated manager after taking Birmingham City from the relegation places to the verge of the playoffs but there’s little in his early days at Derby to suggest that he is capable of taking the club he once played for in the Premier League, back to the top flight.
Derby were held 2-2 by arch-rivals and relegation candidates Nottingham Forest in his first game in charge back in March. Though that was followed up by three straight victories including an impressive 4-2 win at home to Fulham, they faded out badly.
Derby were thrashed 4-0 at Brentford, beaten by Sheffield Wednesday, held by both Huddersfield and Rotherham, only beating Wolves in their final five games.
Disastrous transfer window
The summer transfer window can also be seen as a disaster by Rams fans and the odds with 888sport.com reflected that. Two of their star players from the past few seasons – Will Hughes and Tom Ince were both sold onto Premier League clubs, for bargain prices.
Jacob Butterfield and goalscoring midfielder Craig Bryson were both surprisingly loaned out to divisional rivals on the final day of the transfer window. Top full-back Cyrus Christie moved to Middlesbrough and was replaced by Andre Wisdom, who is, quite frankly, one of the worst defenders in the football league.
Darren Bent suffered an injury in pre-season that is due to keep him out until the New Year.
In his place, 32-year-old David Nugent is the club’s starting striker. A player who looks well short of his Preston days, with no pace and a woeful first touch these days. Matej Vydra has only ever had one good goalscoring season in his entire career.
A lack of talent out wide will ultimately hurt Derby over the season, particularly in games where they can’t break down the opposition down the middle. Defensively they don’t have a top holding midfielder either.
Won thanks to an opposition collapse
As for that Friday’s 5-0 thrashing of Hull City it’s fair to say that the visitors were slightly on top up to the point Sebastian Larsson blazed his penalty over the bar. Leonid Slutski’s side just collapsed afterwards.
Derby took the lead on poor positioning from goalkeeper Allan McGregor to concede a free kick from Matej Vydra. Their second was a fine team goal before two from corners before Bradley Johnson was also able to beat McGregor with an effort from outside the penalty area.
Enjoy the victory but don’t expect many similar scorelines between now and May.
Way out of their league
With a game in hand, Derby would be in a playoff spot after seven games with a victory. However, they have had some favourable fixtures.
Right now, they don’t look capable of competing with the likes of Leeds United, Cardiff City, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Fulham or any other promotion candidates.
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