Rams Aussie Enders
Christie`s Confidential - Part One
This month we ask Nick Christie, a member of the Rams Australian supporters club, his thoughts on the Jewell era to date. Over to you Nick for Part one.
Thanks Peter, well where do we start, in a nutshell, he has arrived a few months too late to have any chance of performing the Great Escape. He has not wasted any time in identifying his replacements for what we all knew was a weak squad to try and compete at this level, and he has been pretty shrewd in his dealings so far.
I have to be honest and admit that I was very surprised to see Matt Oakley shipped out so quickly, because if we had only one player worthy of the Premier League, it was him. He gave so much to Derby County in the relatively short time he was here (although a slightly longer tenure than most managers, it would seem), and he never gave up. He also scored some cracking goals, and I thought that playing him alongside Robbie Savage would have improved our midfield enormously - and certainly for next season in the Championship.
However, it may be that Paul Jewell saw a team captain who perhaps did not deliver too much in the way of leadership on the pitch - his personal game and attitude were fine, but other areas might have been lacking, and it is those areas that PJ needs to address in double quick time if we are not to set the unenviable record of the lowest points ever in a Premier League season.
Likewise for Steve Howard. I cannot pretend to think anything other than he was well out of his class in the Premier League, but I would not ever criticise him for that. Another player who always gave 100% of what he had to offer, he is very well suited to life in the Championship, and I would have thought that retaining him for next season would have been the way to go.
The sad thing is, with both players going to Fester City, that I might now even find myself looking out for the Fester results, and indeed, I saw that Steve Howard scored on his home debut for them. Good luck and best wishes to both of them - they certainly gave us sterling service.
But this is why I have to keep reminding myself that I am not, and never will be, the manager of Derby County. £1.25M (with add-ons?) for Steve Howard is actually good business, as is £500K (with add-ons) for Matt Oakley, although I would have valued him a lot higher than that (especially when you consider that we paid £1M for Feilhaber). £300K for Andy Griffin is a sensational piece of dealing, and I take my hat off to Paul Jewell for that one. If Paul Jewell can continue this roll of wheeling and dealing in our favour, could I possibly suggest that he does the same with Claude Davis and Gary Teale?
I cannot believe that we sanctioned the spending of £3M on Claude Davis, because he most certainly has nothing more to offer than Lewin Nytanga, and he quite definitely is far too injury prone to seriously consider a career as a central defender. Gary Teale was bought for the Championship, and he did okay at that level. I know he is receiving a fair bit of criticism now, but perhaps unfairly, because he is yet another one who will never make it in the Premier League.
I read somewhere last week that Lee Holmes has been shipped out to Walsall for the remainder of the season, and perhaps this will be the last we see of him. Successive managers have never been able to make their mind up about Holmes, but in Paul Jewell I do believe we have somebody capable of making difficult and reasoned decisions very quickly. I am not saying that he will be right all of the time, but so far he has done what needed to be done (and some of those decisions have been painful for us).
In fact, one of those decisions managed to light up a number of message boards connected with Derby, and that was the signing of Robbie Savage - a player everybody loves to hate if he is not wearing your shirt. If I recall correctly, for us it was the memory of Robbie Savage in a Fester shirt, playing for the penalty which eventually won them the game, a game which had been a little niggly, largely thanks to the in-your-face style of play from him. From then on, Robbie Savage had held a very special place (the sort of place reserved for parking inspectors, jobs-worth security officers, and the tax man) in the hearts of all Derby County supporters who saw that match, and then..............oh dear, he now sports a Derby County shirt for a living.
What to do in such testing times, and it obviously was a question playing on some people`s minds, because those message boards were in melt down.
The plain fact is that we had a midfield without any grit or steel in it. We did not have a natural ball winner, and all too often opposing teams simply rode roughshod through the middle of the park, and distributed the ball however they chose to.
Couple that with the fact that we don`t have a defence capable of consistent defending, and you have the recipe for certain relegation. And that is before any thought is given to the lack of goals at the other end. Coming in over the last couple of weeks are players who I have heard of and who can probably do the job, and some who I don`t know anything about, e.g. Ghaly and Villa.
One player who I am very happy to hear of as probably coming in, and who has great potential to do very well at Derby, if not in the Premier League, then definitely in the Championship, is Mile Sterjovski. A strong member of the Socceroos World Cup squad, he would be a quality signing. The thing is, though, Paul Jewell is looking far and wide for these players, e.g. Sterjovski out of Turkey, Robert from somewhere in Spain, Popov and Ivanov from Bulgaria.
Whether they are worth it remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that he is managing to persuade them to come and have a go - something which a lot of clubs at the bottom are finding difficulty with.
More next week!!!