Derby’s Smart Summer

July 16, 2017 - Joel Clyne

When Gary Rowett was unveiled as manager a few months back, myself and a few other supporters were fortunate enough to meet him that evening. I remember thinking at the time, is it you? Are you the one that’s actually going to get this club out of the division and give me the memories that will last a lifetime?

Rowett spoke well at the end of what must have been a pretty knackering day. He usually does in fairness and I was impressed but a lot of bullshit gets spouted in football yet, with that in mind I was cautiously optimistic.

The timing of Rowett’s appointment may actually be the catalyst for a really good season at Derby. The nine games which he had in charge were effectively an extension of pre-season and gave him time to implement some of his ideas going into the season. It was also a time to assess the squad both in terms of their abilities and their character.

In a summer in which the teams stars in Will Hughes and Tom Ince have been sold (and Cyrus Christie), it’s almost surprising that there’s such positivity around the business Derby have done. Gutting as it may have been to lose them, the players that have come in have added much to the squad. This is by far the smartest transfer window Derby have had for many years.

There is a well thought out plan being put into use and it’s clear for supporters to see what Rowett and his team are doing and what they thought was lacking previously.

Derby are certain to be more physical side next season. Curtis Davies, Andre Wisdom and Tom Huddlestone are all over six foot and are physically imposing. Hughes and Ince didn’t offer the sheer force that those who’ve arrived do. They may well be better suited to the Premier League in regards to their technical ability but Derby will stand a better chance of getting out of the division they’re in with the additions made. And whilst the transfer fees for both (£13million up front) wasn’t huge, the club weren’t short changed either. There’s still cash for Rowett to play with and the three signings for around £5million is really smart.

It’s probably worth noting the type of characters that have been brought in too. Davies has been captain at his previous clubs. He’ll probably take the armband this summer too (not that it really matters). Wisdom arrives with a point to prove after years of being shipped around the leagues and Tom Huddlestone returns to get the promotion that he didn’t achieve with the club 12 years previously.

But it’s the next move in the transfer market which will be really interesting. There have already been links to wide attackers in Tom Lawrence and Jota and it’ll fascinating to see who Rowett does indeed go for.

Without Ince, Derby are seriously lacking quality in the wide areas. Johnny Russell, Andreas Weimann, Mason Bennett, Ikechi Anya and Nick Blackman don’t consistently offer enough or, bluntly, they’re not good enough.

Signing the right attacker could be the difference between a comfortable top six finish or another season scrapping around mid-table. If Derby do want that top six finish or better yet (and whisper it quietly) a push for the automatic spots then they could well go ahead and sign two wide attackers.

Derby are lacking an element of creativity now and they are almost certain to be more workman like than at any point of the last four years. That’s not a bad thing. More often than not, it’s the lack of basic skills which have cost Derby in recent years. Football teams can be successful without being overly creative. Look at the side that Billy Davies took out of this league. Sean Dyche at Burnley and Tony Pulis with Stoke. None of those sides were particularly creative, or that easy on the eye but they got the job done and that’s what it’s about. Perhaps a year after Nigel Pearson spoke of “winning football” we’ll finally see it at Pride Park.