|Ipswich Town 2 v 2 Blackburn Rovers|
Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Bring on the Tractor Boys, It’s All Getting Very Exciting – Notes for Derby County
Friday, 29th Dec 2017 12:00 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday’s game at Portman Road by delving into their forums.
“Get on the bandwagon because it’s rolling”, “There is something special happening this season”, “I’m so happy to be in this position at this point of the season”, “Thank you Derby for making my Christmas”, “We have improved tenfold since August with one goal now conceded in eight games”.
Derby head to Ipswich fourth in the table and firmly in the thick of the promotion hunt with six wins in their last eight games. The one goal they have conceded in a remarkable defensive run was Callum Connolly’s fifth-minute header in our rescheduled game at Pride Park at the end of November.
“The Rowett train just keeps rolling”, “I genuinely think we’re in with a shout”, “If we are still near the play-offs by the end of January, I’ll start believing the automatic places are a possibility”, “We know what has happened in previous years. We just have to make sure we don’t collapse again.”
“If we’re honest, we’re flying by the seat of our pants at the moment. Teams spurn chances against us and Scott Carson has made some terrific saves”, “A lot of players looked leggy on Boxing Day at Hull [when the sides drew 0-0] and in the last 20 minutes of our previous [3-0] win over Millwall.”
“I can’t remember the last time we had to make a substitution because someone was having a poor game. It’s more to give players a breather and for game management. Every player is performing and making an impact in their role and it has been a good number of years since that was the case.”
“What a job Rowett has done”, “I’m beginning to get the impression he is turning us into a Burnley. We do the basics well but have the quality in attack to win games”, “He has removed the headless chicken approach adopted over the last two years and is moulding a team that is working as a unit.”
“We are a focused, organised team who play for each other.” The 43-year-old former Burton and Birmingham manager took charge at Pride Park last March and has impressed fans by creating a balanced team playing attacking football while also being built on strong defensive foundations.
“You can see that the players believe in what they are doing, which is great credit to Gary”, “He is doing something I didn’t think was possible and is getting the best out of all the players”, “We play as a team and hunt the ball down together. We move and look for each other at every opportunity.”
“Gary is not afraid to make unpopular decisions that often need to be made for the greater good of the team.” He was also not afraid to let go of popular players such as Will Hughes and Tom Ince this summer when rebalancing the side. “He keeps making the right calls, we are now playing as a team.”
“Gary has figured out that it doesn’t matter if the other side have more of the ball as long as you don’t let them do anything with it”, “His style of play is more cautious and counter-attacking at times than [predecessor] Steve McClaren, but we see out games and don’t concede late goals anymore.”
A Well Disciplined, Organised, Cohesive Unit
“Gary Rowett is not afraid to set us up tight and counter-attack at pace”, “We are solid, we defend properly, earn the right to play and then our quality strikers for this level win us games”, “It’s very funny how opportunistic we are and how we basically set about stifling the other teams’ chances.”
“Gary’s system doesn’t allow for flowing moves like McClaren’s, but it is still entertaining”, “I still don’t like our style but I’m slowly converting to its success”, “We mix up pressing and shepherding, and you know that we can nick the ball or force a mistake to rip through the opposition and score.”
“We don’t change a winning team unless we have injuries.” Rowett named an unchanged XI (above) for the third successive game at Hull on Boxing Day. He has kept the 4-2-3-1 shape which he used in his time at Birmingham, with Matej Vydra operating as a deep-lying striker behind David Nugent.
“Another clean sheet which shows just how good our defenders are”, “I never think we will concede late in the game any more. The back seven look so assured”, “This is the most confident I have felt in years watching a Derby defence”, “We can be better at the back but it’s working at the moment.”
“The team is set up with defensive full-backs in Craig Forsyth and Chris Baird along with two holding midfielders. We shouldn’t be shocked by our defensive record.” Rams view Richard Keogh and Tom Huddlestone as decent footballers who balance the defensively solid Curtis Davies and Joe Ledley.
“Our midfield pair of Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley are older, but they hardly play a ‘cover every blade of grass at a million miles an hour’ style. They are two very experienced, composed players that don’t waste energy and don’t run themselves into the ground with desperate last-ditch challenges.”
“We frequently use the full width of the pitch.” Rowett has used the more physical Bradley Johnson on the left of midfield to protect Forsyth. Wide right is seen as Andreas Weimann’s best position as he is able to stretch defences, and he has developed an effective partnership with Chris Baird.
“The link-up play between Nugent and Vydra is working and on that basis Gary is right to persevere with this combination for as long as it’s working.” Nugent’s industry and movement creates space for the deep-lying Vydra to exploit. Impact substitute Chris Martin’s style of play is seen as too static.
“I think we got it wrong at Hull not making changes. No matter what anyone likes to say, the cracks also started to show in that XI in the final quarter against Millwall. Passes went astray, we wasted the good positions we did manage to create and we rode our luck defensively in both these games.”
“Rowett must change it up away at Ipswich just to introduce some freshness.” The manager naming an unchanged team for the third consecutive game at Hull left many worrying that fatigue may now be taking its toll. “Please don’t name an unchanged side, some players are running on empty.”
Hull 0 – 0 Derby
“A decent point that, well done”, “I’m not upset at all about that result. A point away from home is not to be sniffed at. It was a poor display and we were lucky to come away with a point. Hull missed sitters from 10 yards and one yard”, “A point at Hull is still decent despite their league position.”
“Hull have improved under Nigel Adkins.” The hosts had the more of the ball and the better chances in a disjointed game which won’t linger in the memory. Jon Toral and Kamil Grosicki missed decent chances for the Tigers, while Weimann had a late header well saved by Hull keeper Allan McGregor.
“We have somehow escaped with a point there”, “A rugged, determined hard-working performance, a very good point and a clean sheet”, “It looked like we had run out of all ideas”, “Our luck keeps on holding and we couldn’t really have complained if Hull had scored. Their finishing was really poor.”
One noteworthy switch (above) made by Rowett was the introduction of the more defensive George Thorne for Vydra midway through the second half as Hull started to control midfield. Tom Lawrence made a first appearance from the bench after picking up an ankle injury at Barnsley three weeks ago.
Derby 3 – 0 Millwall
“Well, that was a great day out, wasn’t it?”, “I popped out for a few minutes at 0-0, came back and it’s 3-0. There were absolute scenes”, “Millwall couldn’t figure out what to do. We controlled the game during that blistering spell and Millwall were outplayed”, “Merry Christmas everybody!”
“Millwall had a 15-minute rush at us but we annihilated them in a five-minute spell.” Millwall were blown away by three Derby goals in five minutes, a Nugent brace on 23 and 28 bracketing Vydra’s 25-yard shot on 25 minutes. Many felt that the Rams rode their luck against a hard-working Lions side.
“It was an amazing game in some ways and I didn’t think it was over. Millwall were carving us open easily in the second half despite being three down”, “It was cracking entertainment and could have been 6-3, but can we get back to basics defensively?”, “It was not a vintage defensive performance.”
Derby 2 – 0 Aston Villa
“Just got in, the most enjoyable game of the season”, “We operated as a single unbreakable tireless unit. As soon as a Villa player for in behind a defender, one of our boys was there to cover”, “It was a good game although we gave up a lot of possession”, “It was a very professional, organised display.”
Weimann opened the scoring against his former club on 24 after being set up by Vydra, who pounced on a careless pass by Villa’s Glenn Whelan. Johnny Russell secured the win in second-half stoppage time, after Richard Keogh went on one of his trademark runs from deep and played him in on goal.
“Time and again we forced Villa sideways and backwards without ever needing to put a tackle in”, “We always looked a threat going forward whereas I never expected Villa to score”, “Two Villa supporters walking back thought Rowett outfoxed Steve Bruce with his tactics today. I agree.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“A keeper’s job is to stop the ball going in our goal. Scott Carson is the best we have had at doing that for a long time.” The 32-year-old former Wigan man “has been crucial is most of our wins. He inspires confidence and he was pretty consistent even when we were poor earlier in the season.”
“Carson is one of the best in the land at shot stopping but his distribution is poor”, “He tries to get moves going with long passes out to the wings but should leave the defensive playmaking to Keogh and Huddlestone”, “He’s prone to the occasional lapse and he can be slow at getting moves going.”
“I just wish Chris Baird was five years younger.” The 35-year-old ex-West Brom right-back “defends masterfully. His distribution is great and his corners are dangerous”, “His heading is brilliant, and his corners are a massive plus for us. I also love his slide-rule passes down the right to set up Weimann.”
“Baird had a rough spell at this club and has come back to be one of the best players in the squad. He’s immensely professional, brings a calming presence and consistently puts decent balls in”, “He’s a solid defender whose passing is fantastic and he can also put in great crosses and great corners.”
“I feel sorry for Andre Wisdom.” The 24-year-old July signing from Liverpool “is a very good player who is being kept out of the side by Baird”, “He is strong and mobile but he lacks precision with his passing”, “He gives us more against weaker teams when we are not being challenged defensively.”
“Craig Forsyth made a series of errors giving possession away and the corner which led to Ipswich’s training ground goal.” The 28-year-old ex-Watford left-back “is strong as a straight-up stopper, but I am not sure his passing is every going to improve”, “His crossing is good but his passing can misfire.”
“Forsyth is a good full-back at this level and goes quietly about his business”, “He adds extra height to defend far-post corners”, “He struggles when he has a run of games close together”, “He can be static when challenged by a winger and was skinned by Waghorn when giving Ipswich that corner.”
“Marcus Olsson is a better attacking left-back than Forsyth.” The 29-year-old ex-Blackburn man “is neat playing with forwards but he struggles in the air and doesn’t cut out crosses”, “I don’t mind him playing, but is says a lot that he has barely featured even if he is better on the ball than Forsyth.”
“Curtis Davies doesn’t create strong opinions either way from fans because he’s a steady, consistent player.” The 32-year-old summer arrival from Hull “is an absolute rock at the back who constantly wins his aerial duels. He has got better and better and has steadied the ship at the back this season.”
“Against Burton [in a 1-0 Rams win in early December] Nigel Clough put a man on Keogh at all times, meaning that our play from the back had to come from Davies. That’s probably why it looked a little laboured”, “He does little wrong defensively, but combines very good tackling and woeful passing.”
“There is no doubt that Keogh has made big improvements to his game this season.” The 31-year-old ex-Coventry centre-half “is so much calmer and more disciplined, and he’s a better player for it”, “He looks much less shaky with Davies alongside him. His passing is fantastic and he gets moves started.”
Danny Ward (L) v Richard Keogh
“Keogh was fantastic against Villa, a key tackle, a goal-line clearance a surging run and a superb ball to set Russell up with our second goal”, “I have not seen a centre-half look as good with the ball at his feet in years”, “Having experienced leaders alongside him at the back has greatly liberated him.”
“George Thorne comes on at the end of games and adds a little bit of composure to manage it out.” The 24-year-old former West Brom man “added solidity when Hull looked close to getting a goal”, “He has looked controlled, forward-thinking and effective in the 15-minute cameos he has played.”
“Thorne stops teams coming through us and allows us to dominate the ball. He’s also an option if we need to move up a gear”, “His passing, touch, strength and runs are real assets but he slows play and passes safely, keeping possession for its own sake. It reminds me of the bad times under McClaren.”
“Rowett selects Bradley Johnson for his toughness.” The 27-year-old ex-Norwich man “helps his full-back out when playing out wide, but he comes inside and floods the middle when appropriate”, “He’s good at disrupting opponents. He restricts their wingers from getting to the byline to get crosses in.”
Bradley Johnson attacking a Forest fan
“Johnson is the current pick against physically dominating opponents”, “Most of his good work takes place off the ball. He’s strong and combative does the simple things well”, “He’s a reliable and solid option. He wins more headers and tackles than most on the pitch but his passing isn’t always great.”
“Tom Huddlestone makes the ball do all the work.” The 30-year-old July addition from Hull “is clearly a level above this division between the ears, his technique is unrivalled”, “He’s comfortable with the ball and he has it in his locker to make superb passes”, “An outstanding long passer who lacks pace.”
“Huddlestone has started to control games in this good run and his form has improved along with his fitness”, “He is so calm on the ball every time he touches it and puts in some lethal passes to set us off on counter-attacks”, “Ipswich’s Bialkowski made one cracking save to keep his brilliant shot out.”
“Ledley is the master of positional play. He reads the game so well and it looks like he is strolling around.” The 30-year-old former Crystal Palace man arrived as a free agent on a short-term contract in September and has subsequently agreed a deal to keep him at the club until summer 2019.
“We have won 10 and drawn four of the 15 games Ledley has played. It speaks absolute volumes”, “He has been an absolute revelation and seldom gives the ball away. He doesn’t stand out but just does everything with an air of superiority. I understand the job he does to make the team tick.”
“Ledley’s signing is the defining moment of our season”, “Just focus on him for a few minutes when we haven’t got the ball. He constantly looks for where dangerous positions or spaces might open up and he moves over to close it off. His work is unnoticed but he’s a master of screening the defence.”
Wide Midfielders and Wingers
“Johnny Russell buzzes around and keeps defences busy.” The 27-year-old ex-Dundee United man “is trickier than a box of frogs running in behind defences and has a good understanding with Chris Martin”, “He has contributed goals this season and his bursts of energy are great from the bench.”
“Russell can be naïve defensively, but he is better when a game is stretched”, “His end product out wide doesn’t match his effort”, “He’s not really an out-and-out winger. He was a half-decent striker in Scotland who played off a centre-forward until we turned him into something different out wide.”
“Tom Lawrence was poor last month against Ipswich. He wasted set pieces and gave up every time he gave the ball away.” The 23-year-old former Leicester man and Town loan signing “is threatening when running directly at opponents and taking on defenders”, “He was half-asleep against Ipswich.”
Tom Lawrence v Callum Connolly
“Lawrence can shoot and cross but he doesn’t take the right options and is poor at linking up play”, “He needs to work on his decision-making”, “His running with the ball creates chances”, “He is a real match-winner who is taking time to settle. His performances so far have been a little hit-and-miss.”
“Most of us would have been happy to let Weimann go to Wolves this summer before it fell apart, but I take my hat off to him. He has grabbed his chance with both hands since coming into the side.” The 26-year-old ex-Aston Villa man “is so much better on the right flank where his pace is effective”.
Andreas Weimann and Tom Huddlestone arguing with referee Geoff Eltringham
“Weimann is a fast-thinking and skilful player but he still looks unsure when given the ball to his feet. He’s happier with balls to run on to and he stretches defences”, “He gives Baird terrific support. He’s at his most dangerous cutting in from the right getting in and around the opposition penalty box.”
“Sam Winnall is more of a mobile than pacy striker. He’s an industrious good finisher.” The 26-year-old Sheffield Wednesday loan signing “is a younger Darren Bent, more effective from close range”, “I would hate to play against him as a centre-back. He never stops running and pressing defenders.”
“Chris Martin isn’t going to sprint around here, there and everywhere. He just isn’t.” The 29-year-old ex-Norwich man “is slow but he has a great touch and his passing is good. He doesn’t exert a lot of energy”, “He isn’t fully on song but his cameos are full of good link-up play and he is working hard.”
Reading's Vito Mannone and Chris Martin clash
“Martin offers a different type of attacking threat to Nugent. He uses the ball to bring in team mates and unlock a defence”, “He is more adept at the lone striker role, bringing midfielders into attacking positions”, “He looked good in the Ipswich game and I wonder if Rowett is saving him for Saturday.”
“What a golden nugget Nugent is turning out to be. His goals are so clinical and fast and he pounces before anyone knows what has happened.” The 32-year-old one-time Pompey and Leicester man “is clearly in form but we must manage him carefully. He doesn’t half tire himself out charging around.”
“Nugent pulls teams around and creates space. He has great chemistry with Vydra”, “His perpetual motion creates panic in defences and his constant harrying causes teams to make mistakes”, “He runs his socks off, but has looked tired and off the pace in recent games before being substituted.”
“Vydra is in the best form of his entire career.” The 25-year-old ex-Watford striker “no longer drifts around when out of possession. He goes on a full metal jacket hunting expedition for the ball”, “He is starting to play as an intelligent, hard-working attacking midfielder without losing his goal threat.”
Matej Vydra v Town in November
“Vydra has players like Nugent who bring out the best in him”, “He caused utter havoc against Villa. He is so clinical in everything he does and is lethal in front of goal”, “His speed and balance, his turn of pace when attacking defenders, his neat assists and clinical strikes make him a game changer.”
Rams’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“It’s wide open, lads and lasses, on to Ipswich”, “It’s a tough away game but others will see us as being a hard game”, “This is an interesting one for me. The promotion pressure is building and we looked off it at Hull. I have the feeling that a loss is in the post for us.”
With 41 per cent of Rams predicting an away win and 37 per cent forecasting a draw, the visitors are approaching the game with cautious optimism for an away side. Most expect there to be no more than a one goal margin with a 1-0 Town win and a 2-1 Derby win the most popular forecast results.
“It needs freshening up at Ipswich.” With a home match against Sheffield United looming on New Year’s Day and the evidence of tired limbs in recent games, many want to see a freshened-up starting XI on Saturday. “I expect those calling for changes will be pleased when the line-up is announced at 2pm.”
“Tractor Boys 1 - 0 Rams, the best side loses again in this and the previous fixture”, “Ipswich get battered and chance their way to an awful win, as usual”, “I can see this happening”, “Ipswich are one of the highest goalscorers in the entire division, I think there is a threat there to be fair.”
“Ipswich might suit us better to play against in an away match”, “Let's face some facts that should make us feel positive. We have not let a goal in home or away since we played Ipswich. We have not lost away since mid-September and won the last three games at Portman Road without conceding.”
“I heard the other day that Ipswich and Mick McCarthy’s record at Derby is so good that the last time a Derby side beat a Mick McCarthy side in Derby was at the Baseball Ground”, “Mick McCarthy always seem to suss us out. I don't know how exactly he does it but I'm sure Gary will have a plan.”
Rams’ Views on Our November Win at Pride Park
“There is nothing better in football than going to an away game and doing exactly what Ipswich did tonight, score then sit back and defend and frustrate”, “That is Ipswich’s game plan and we fall for it every season”, “We need to write Ipswich at home off as a defeat now before every campaign.”
“We knew Ipswich would park the bus and play for set pieces. That style of play needs a different approach from us”, “Ipswich sat deep and a static Derby tried to hit straight long balls over the top into space that did not exist”, “Nugent wasn't involved enough but that was due to poor service.”
“Ipswich didn’t play that deep in the first half. They often had four or five players in our half and didn't let us play out from the back. As the game went on it definitely became defence versus attack”, “It was simply a case of the ball not going in the net. We were creating decent chances”,
Most Rams accepted that we deserved to win by playing the game on our terms and by being more clinical with our finishing. “We were done by Ipswich tonight, again as has happened for the past 10 years. We probed lots in first half but they gave us no space. You have to give them credit.”
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Photo: Action Images
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