Another Feb Failure

March 03, 2019 - Joel Clyne

The February drop off is absolutely mad. It’s weird. And it’s mad. And it doesn’t make much sense that it keeps happening. Did I mention that it was mad?

Anyway, here’s me going through a few of the reasons why it’s happened this time round.

Injuries

Mason Mount and Jack Marriott are essentially irreplaceable. Tom Lawrence, to a lesser extent, can be thrown into that category too. There’s a lack of creativity without Mount and Lawrence and there’s a lack of goals without Marriott. To lose the three of them has played a huge part in the downturn of form.

The loss of Craig Forsyth has had an affect too. Forsyth had played himself into form before he suffered his latest (and probably last) knee injury for the club. The defence was beginning to look settled before that disruption.

Despite not getting into the team, Curtis Davies should be mentioned as well. There can be no doubt that he would have played a part this season had he not suffered his achilles injury. There’s not a chance Keogh and Tomori would have played as many games as they have. His leadership qualities at a time like this are sorely missed.

Fitness

Again, injuries of course have had an affect here in that players have played more minutes than what would have been preferred but they’ve looked knackered for weeks.

The cup runs haven’t helped. The extra games played have taken their toll but the players look as if they’re running on empty.

I was given a snippet of information which was that the strength and conditioning staff were banished from on-field duties. They were allowed to do their work in the gym but not out on the pitch. There’s no reason for that source to lie but take it as you will. Either way, the players look shot.

The Manager

Frank has done far more good than bad in his time at the club. He’s a rookie manager and with that there has to be an understanding that he will make mistakes and get things wrong.

The amount of rotation has had an adverse affect. I understand it from a fitness point of view but the various different combinations in midfield and attack hasn’t helped.

There was the strange shift to a 5-3-2 against Millwall as well which seemed like a desperate gamble in the hope that we’d stumble across a magic solution.

It’s ridiculous to call for him to be sacked though. We, as a club, will be better off being patient here. The constant churn of managers is another reason why this club hasn’t progressed as we’d all like.

The Transfer Window

Derby failed to add significantly to the squad in January. The stance was that there wouldn’t be much movement as there wasn’t much money. That’s fair enough but surely the manager was allocated a budget in the summer for the season, so wouldn’t it have made sense to allocate some of that for the winter window?

It seems to me that this was an opportunity missed. A couple of solid signings would have given the squad, and the fan base, a timely boost.

The Fans

We are not a fanbase that deals well with pressure or expectation which is interesting given that over the past 17 years, this club has been in the top division once.

I was delighted when Frank came out before the Villa game and tackled the negativity around the club head on. It was refreshing and given his popularity, it carried weight too.

And then there was the Villa game and all the sense spoken beforehand seemed worthless.

But what was said is still true. There is a negativity around the club as soon as something doesn’t go our way. There has been for a long time, the past five years or so and it really doesn’t help.

That isn’t to say that performance over recent weeks have been acceptable. They haven’t. But surely the most infuriated fan must realise that the level of ridicule, anger and negativity has an adverse affect on the club and is pushing what they crave even further away.

Of course fans have a right to be angry but the level of anger and impatience is damaging.

Reasons for Optimism

The four home games coming up are really going to define our season. We need wins and we need performances to really turn this campaign around otherwise it’ll be another season of what ifs.

The return of Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence should provide a timely boost in the coming weeks as well and that should cease the over-reliance on Harry Wilson.

Hopefully with so few games left to play, the manager will begin to settle on a side more and stop with the constant over-rotation.

The season is drawing to a close but there’s still time to make this a successful one.

The whole club is in need of a lift and three points on Tuesday would be a lovely way to get the club back moving in the right direction.