Nigel Clough has been carrying quite a lot of weight on his shoulders recently due to the bad run of form Derby County have shown recently despite Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leicester City. Some Rams fans are starting to go against him and even the big fans of Clough are starting to notice some flaws in his management style. Clough’s side haven’t picked up a win since February 2nd when they beat Huddersfield Town in a 3-0 triumph and this is starting to become a problem as Derby continue to fall down the table.
After speaking with numerous Derby fans on Twitter I have found that there are quite a few pros and cons towards Clough. The pros I have been given include things like his ability to spot good youth players and give them their chance in the first team, he is also liked for his lowering of the wage bill and another main point that was mentioned, his knowledge of the lower divisions.
The cons for Clough I have been given by Derby fans are such things as his tactical skills. They are often frowned upon, for example, his stubbornness when making substitutions and how he often settles for just the one point in certain games, whereas Derby fans feel they should be going for more. There have been a few times this season where this has cost the Rams.
Clough is often criticised for his man-management skills and how he deals with individuals. For example, he will ‘pick’ on players during media interviews and presents the idea to the fans that certain players only get one chance with him. Fans have made their opinions clear on how bad they feel some of his signings have been, most notably Chris Maguire, Conor Sammon and Nathan Tyson. But, on the positive side, he has also made some great signings with the likes of John Brayford, Jamie Ward, Craig Bryson and Shaun Barker becoming fan favourites.
Another reason fans have criticised Clough is the fact that he has only won 18 away games with Derby since joining in January 2009, which is not good enough. Progression is the biggest factor in Derby fans minds – in the four years Clough has been in charge there has been no real push for the playoffs – which is where all Rams fans think their club should be.
I think it’s clear that Derby fans have more bad things to say about their manager than good things at this moment in the season. Since Clough has joined Derby they have finished, 14th, 19th, 12th and this season they sit 12th in the table following the Leicester win. For a club like Derby County this is not acceptable; some fans blame it on the Board for not providing the correct funds to Clough and for treating the club more like a business – but, when a manager gets £1.200,000 to spend on a striker, we should be able to expect an established Championship striker with a decent scoring record, not a player that got 17 goals in 65 appearances for Kilmarnock and just a single goal in 32 appearances for Wigan Athletic.
Some Rams fans are saying ‘Give him one more year and see how he does’ but what signs has Clough shown this season, or any of his past seasons that gives Derby fans the belief that next season will be more glorious than any season before?
Quite simply, all of Cloughs seasons have contained the same reoccurring theme, inconsistency. Inconsistency is a big thing with a lot of teams who sit mid-table; even some of the best teams in the league struggle with it too. Every team is entitled to a dip in form but a true show of character is how quick you can rally the troops and get back on track.
The manager’s job is to motivate and get the team back on track in times like this. He should be lifting heads up, not letting it get to eight games without a win and publicly criticising players in the way he has recently picked on Michael Jacobs. How is that going to help the players’ confidence going into the latter stages of the season?
The business end of the season is not Clough’s strong spot either and that’s another reason some fans think Derby should move on. They need a manager that has experience in this division and who has made that final push before, someone with character and charisma that will make the players want it.
In my opinion, Reading’s title winning season of 2011-12 is one to look up to. They sat 16th in November but really picked up the pace and – the phrase I keep using – rallied the troops to fire up the league unexpectedly during the business end of the season.
Derby County need to see out the remainder of the current campaign and start focusing on the 2013-14 season, because there is nothing left in this campaign realistically. I believe its the perfect time for a change in the hotseat, with the quality of available managers out there at the moment. Brian McDermott, Nigel Adkins and Paolo Di Canio are names which spring to mind.
Whether the Derby board would be willing to splash out the wages these managers would most likely require, I’m unsure, but, if they want to make that push they will need the best and the best cost money. If Clough was to remain in charge, which is most likely, I would like to see him given some money to play with and see how he would use it.
I feel Clough has done all he can and there is still no sign of Derby going anywhere soon.
Written by Dominic Dietrich, We Are Going Up’s Derby County Blogger
Dominic tweets at @domjdietrich