A year of expectation at Pride Park
We enter the last third of the Championship season tomorrow with Stoke City visiting Pride Park. It`s time to sit back and look at the season to-date, and if any Rams fans can say, hand on heart, that they thought the club would be in the position we are now, I bet there wouldn`t be many of you out there, me included.
The next five games could make or break the Rams season, after tomorrow`s clash, the Rams visit the Stadium of Lights to take on Sunderland, followed by a home clash with surprise team Colchester, a visit to Carrow Road to play Norwich City and then the top of the table clash at St Andrews against Birmingham City, live on Sky.
When Billy Davies was appointed as senior coach at the club he came with a reputation of success at Preston and one of great enthusiasm and dedication. He had taken the Lilywhites to two play-off births in consecutive seasons, but failed to take them up to the Premiership. No disrespect to Preston but they are not one of the big clubs in the Championship and Davies did a marvellous job to get them so close to the Premiership, working with a tight budget.
To be perfectly honest when the Rams made the announcement of Davies` appointment I knew he would bring success to the club. He is that sort of a bloke, feisty, brash and a good leader of men to boot. It was a match made in heaven, Davies` appointment came after the club`s board was handed back to the local consortium headed by Chairman Peter Gadsby. It`s what the fans were asking for all last season and let`s hope we have the right formula to take us back to where we belong.
Davies has spoken on a number of occasions about his plans at the club. He describes it as a re-building phase at the club, and his time-frame was two to three years. Many pundits are surprised with the success this season, but having spoken to insiders at the club, they say Davies took no nonsense from anybody, including the stars. When players, like free kick specialist Inigo Idiakez, left the club we all knew, yes he was a good dead ball specialist but what else did he bring to the side?
Davies has gone out and brought his type of player to the club, hard grafters who give everything to the white shirt. Only time will tell if he has brought wisely over the transfer window, and if the players he has brought will take us to the promised land - 'The Premiership`.
But seeing players like Stephen Pearson, David Jones, Stephen Bywater and the rest of the new faces at the club you know one thing, they will give their all for Derby County, and Davies has put faith in them to do it.
We know we don`t have a divine right to play in the Premier League - we have to earn the right with hard graft and determination. This has been instilled in the player group by Davies
We all know the Rams were knocked out of the FA Cup at Plymouth on Saturday but Davies says they now face another 14 'cup finals' for the remainder of the season.
Davies said: "We're certainly disappointed that we're not in the next round of the Cup but option two, which is the league campaign, is the priority.
"Between now and the end of the season there will be defeats, wins and draws.
"There's 14 league matches remaining. Out of those 14 matches, we know what we've got to do to keep ourselves fighting for those play-offs and promotion places and we're looking forward to the challenge.
"But don't be kidded - not only Derby County but other clubs will receive setbacks and disappointing results.
"The points accumulated over the next 14 matches will determine where we'll go, not over the next two or three games because I am expecting lots of twists and turns.
"Not only is it a big week - it's a big 10 weeks."
Davies will have the side ready for the roller-coaster ride to the end of the season, which is ahead of schedule, but only time will tell if he has the right formula to win promotion. But one thing is for sure the fans will support him and the players all the way. 'Come on you Rams`!!!!