Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Thursday February 15 2007
With Derby County ahead of the pack in the championship and a pending FA Cup 5th round clash at Home Park, against Plymouth Argyle things couldn`t be going better for Billy Davies and his players.
So we pick the paper up this week and some unknown player has spilled the beans regarding a dressing room spilt in the camp. The club have dismissed the report in the Daily Mirror, and Rams Managing Director Mike Horton said: "While it is true we have been working with the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) over the allocation of bonuses in the event of promotion, the reported facts in this case are not accurate.
"We cannot discuss terms and conditions of players' contracts because they are confidential, but we can confirm that the PFA themselves have indicated they are supportive of the club in this matter and are confident that a satisfactory conclusion can be reached in the very near future."
With new players joining the club, it upsets the apple cart and players get disgruntled in not getting first team football. But the club is on the rise, and it`s probably earlier than many of us supporters thought, and the report say`s that players joining the Rams in the transfer window will be entitled to 'huge' bonuses if the Rams win promotion to the Premiership. Rams club captain Michael Johnson believe it`s 'outside influences' that are behind the reports.
He said: 'There are outside influences at work here. When you're at the top of the table, like we are, you're there to be shot at.
"People will do whatever they can do to try to derail you. There are some managers and players at other clubs who will try every trick in the book.
"I'm an experienced player and it doesn't surprise me at all that this kind of thing has happened now. We're top of the league and it's ended up on the back of a national newspaper.'
The Rams squad have enjoyed a day`s relaxation and team bonding session at Southwell Racecourse on Tuesday and Johnson said team spirit was excellent. Johnson said: "Everybody was there - all the new boys as well - and the team spirit in our squad is fantastic and has been all season.
"If someone's trying to say there's a split in the dressing room I'd just point them towards the table.
"We're top of the league, our manager's just won manager of the month for the second time and Steve Howard was up for player of the month, I think our record speaks for itself.
"I speak as club captain and I can assure you there is no disharmony among the players.
"We're at the business end of the season now and it's the law of the jungle. If anything, it will make us stronger.
"We've got a siege mentality at our club and this kind of thing helps us pull together both on and off the field.'
With the Rams facing the trip to Plymouth at the weekend, it`s not ideal preparation for Coach Davies, but he is unconcerned by yesterday's report.
"There's a situation regarding bonuses for players and we're not denying that,' said Davies.
"Mr Horton (the Rams' managing director) is in discussions with the PFA about resolving the matter and, as far as I'm concerned it's just an administration issue.
"When you get to the stage of the situation and the position we're in, this type of thing is always going to happen.
"My job is what goes on on the field and all I'm concerned with is making sure we're ready for the next game.
"We've lost only two out of the last 18 games - I think that answers any questions about a dressing room split."
We will have to wait and see if the speculation causes problems at the club. We`re getting the right signals from Coach, Captain and Directors, but it`s on the field that matters, we`ll only know that at 5pm on Saturday, and if we are in the hat for the quarter Final draw.
Date:Thursday February 15 2007
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