Opposing View: Derby County

Derby County boss Nigel Clough shouts his instructions.
Derby County boss Nigel Clough shouts his instructions.

DERBY County remain lodged in the mid-table purgatory that has held them for three seasons.

While large crowds and recent history suggest they should be battling it out in the upper reaches of the Championship, the reality is much more lacklustre.

The Rams equalled last season’s points total with victory over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.

While this is progress for Nigel Clough’s side, there is likely to be plenty of frustration there has not been more.

At times their form has been some of the best in the division but it has usually been followed by some of the worst.

Results earlier in the season have ensured Derby are highly unlikely to be drawn into the relegation scrap.

But the inconsistency has caused some to suggest Clough’s time is up.

It has been a season of peaks and troughs for the Rams with enough highs to ensure deep lows have not been too affecting.

The current run is not quite the worst of the season but just two wins have been picked up in the last 11 games - only three teams in the division have a poorer recent record.

The Rams have proved notoriously slow starters and often leave themselves with far too much to do.

Clough (pictured) has repeatedly urged his players to start at a high tempo and be on the front foot but to no avail.

Tuesday night was the first time in seven games Derby have not gone behind.

While the tempo was quicker in the early stages at Pride Park, this was likely fired by the importance of the derby and the Rams failed to show any composure in this period.

Personnel problems have also been an issue, particularly with the absence of Jamie Ward.

The Rams have had little balance in midfield with the lack of a natural right-sided wide man.

This has not been helped with former Rovers midfielder Paul Green filling in at right back.

Clough has deployed a central midfielder wide right recently and by its nature this player is always going to be to drawn inside.

Nathan Tyson started on the wing against Forest and does add balance but ultimately he will look to come inside to his more natural position as a striker.

Defensive linchpin Shaun Barker was carried off with knee injury against Forest, adding to Clough’s woes.

Should they be without him this weekend, the Derby defence will look a lot more vulnerable.

Derby adopt a deep lying defensive line and invite the opposition on when not in possession.

Barker has marshalled this line superbly this season, a huge presence that will be missed.

Having the deep line will likely play into Rovers hands.

At West Ham last weekend they flourished by being handed time on the ball and were allowed to prod away before finding the goal.

If Derby allow them to do that again, their poor run will likely continue.