To the Premier League and Beyond - A Rams Story


Jul 16, 2009
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Have been wondering through games with little motivation the past few months but I am ready to settle on to a story with Derby County now, starting of course in the Championship and taking things from there.

I like Derby because of their successful youth academy and pragmatic business approach. I want to continue that and enhance it further in order to make them one of the top clubs.

So wish me luck and here goes!!


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So having stepped into the job it was straight to work and I began to assess my squad. The facilities were great so I set up my formations and tactics, assigned my coaches to their routines and then looked at the players I had available.

I am blessed with some outstanding young talent in the shapes of Will Hughes and Mason Bennett and they should both play some part in this season but only so much as should be beneficial to their development. We have plenty of strength in defence and some top talent their too in Gjokaj and Freeman. Midfield looked solid enough but we were missing some real depth on the wings, while I was pleased with what I had in the striking department..

So in terms of transfers, I highlighted left back, central midfield and attacking midfield as the places that required most attention. Having scoured the market though I found very little within our budget so it looked like loans would be the way forward. Please welcome:

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Miquel Nelom, a 21 year old full back on loan from Feyenoord.

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Abdi Ibrahim, 21 year old central midfielder from Manchester City

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Davy Klaassen, a 19 year old attacking midfielder from Ajax. Highly rated.

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Mark Yeates, a 27 year old winger on loan from Watford.

I am satisfied with the players that have come in to the side. Yeates will provide depth and backup to my first choice wingers of Jacobs and Jamie Ward. Meanwhile, Nelom is a classy full back who should push Roberts for a place in the side and Klaassen is another young talent to compete with Will Hughes.

Whilst I would have liked to bring a couple more domestic talents in the market wasn't currently right at the time being, and I shall do some more long term investment in next summer's transfer window!

As for the pre-season matches, here are the results:

Wigan (1-1)
Salisbury (2-0)
Ward, Sammon
Burton (1-1)
Mansfield (1-1)
Aston Villa (0-0)
Espanyol (2-2)
Coutts, Davies

So no losses on pre-season is good but we're not scoring too many either. I'm also dissapointed to announce that Will Hughes will be missing for the first 3 months of the season.. Not a great start by any means, but the performances were up to a decent level and the players are training well. On to August!
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Looks good, look forward to seeing how you fair in your first season.

I would say though, look at improving the layout. It can make it much easier to read and much more enjoyable. Good luck!
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A fairly under-whelming start to life as Derby County manager. We are still struggling to score goals and close games out and are therefore still without a win after 4 games..

Walsall 3 - 1 Derby County
League Cup 1st Round

Not a good performance although Walsall were extremely clinical. We missed a number of chances and Ben Davies' 83rd minute goal was simply a consolation.

Derby County 2 - 2 Leicester City
A tough fixture against our big local rivals, and we put in a decent performance. Having gone behind, we drew level thanks to Paul Coutts' excellent free-kick, and then had to claw it back again after Fielding's howler, as Ben Davies' slammed home a late penalty.

Wolves 1 - 0 Derby County
A really dissapointing result in a game which highlighted our lack of cutting edge. Despite edging Wolves on the balance of play, a Fielding error gave Doyle the chance to score in the second half and it proved enough for the 3 points.

Derby County 1 - 1 Blackpool

A decent performance once more but we miss far too many simple chances. Callum McManaman and Theo Robinson this time the guilty parties as we go three league games without a win. We took the lead this time through Ben Davies' but were pegged back by Delfouneso and despite dominating were unable to grab a winner.

So a fairly modest start to the season on the pitch but progress was made off it. Callum McManaman joins us on loan from Wigan Athletic until January to add depth to the striking positions.
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Our player of the month award has to go to the excellent Ben Davies. Usually considered a backup player, Davies got the opportunity thanks to Will Hughes' injury and has taken it brilliantly. Long may his form continue.
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A much better month all things considered. Though we are still struggling for goals, we have looked very solid at the back and play some really nice football. The only downside at the moment is the staggering number of injuries that we are picking up. More on that later. First, the results!

Derby County 1 - 0 Watford
Not our best display but we pick up our first three points of the season, thanks to Abdi Ibrahim's 94th minute winner! Watford had the better chances but we held firm and grabbed the win.

Notts Forest 1 - 1 Derby County
A huge derby game this one and I was delighted to come away with the point. Chris Cohen gave Forest the lead after an hour but Ben Davies stepped up to score the equalising penalty after Theo Robinson was felled. A good point.

Ipswich 0 - 1 Derby County
Keep the points coming! A great display against Ipswich who were completely nullified by our brilliantly backline. Theo Robinson's first goal of the season after half an hour gave us the points.

Derby County 0 - 0 Charlton
A bit unlucky here not to come away with all three points. We were constantly knocking on the door and even had a goal disallowed but it wasn't to be. A draw is better than a loss though!

Blackburn 1 - 0 Derby County
Okay, not the greatest end to the month but Blackburn had only dropped two points before this game and considering the number of injuries we had we put in a good display. Only beaten by a flukey Goodwillie lob.

A much better month for us. The football we are playing is good and if we get more of our best players back to full fitness then I'm sure we will start to score more goals. This is the current injury list..

Will Hughes (2 months)
Callum McManaman (3 months)
Jamie Ward (2 weeks)
Miquel Velom (4 weeks)
Craig Bryson (4 weeks)
Mason Bennett (4 weeks)

In the coming months if we can keep our current XI fit and add a few more of these then I'm sure we can start pushing into the promotion push. I am also on the lookout for a good centre forward ahead of next season.. Always plan ahead!
In other news, promising left back Michal Hogansson goes on loan to Cheltenham. I have been impressed with his development but he is in need of first team football. Maybe next year he can push for a run in the first team. Valentin Gjokaj is another impressive youngster but with O'Brien and Keogh in such good form, his chances have been limited and he joins Preston North End on loan until January with an option to recall.

Meanwhile, my player of the month for September will have to be Richard Keogh. I was tempted to give it to Fielding after an impressive improvement on August, but Keogh was a beast in every game this month and completely nullified some of the best defences in the league. Top player.
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Onto October, come on you Rams!


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A difficult month for us, but ends on a positive note with two fine wins against Huddersfield and Peterborough. We were given the chance to test ourselves against some of the bigger clubs in the division though and we were really shown our shortcomings, something I am actively addressing.

Cardiff City 4 - 0 Derby County
A poor result but one that can be explained by the fact that we were 1-0 down until an astonishing 6 players picked up injuries! At one point we were playing with 9 men which went some way to explaining the poor result.

Derby County 1 - 4 Sheffield Wednesday
Less excuses could be made for this poor display at home to Sheffield Wednesday. A Leroy Lita hat-trick and a tidy Gary Madine finish sent Wednesday cruising, with Connor Sammon scoring our consolation.

Derby County 1 - 3 Brighton
Another poor display, as we went 3-0 down without so much as a whimper. Our injuries were taking a toll but this was unacceptable. I let the lads know this at half time and we made more of a fist of it in the second half with Jeff Hendrick pulling one back but this was a disappointing display.

Huddersfield 1 - 2 Derby County
Following a mid-week team talk, the boys gave this a real go. I feared the worst when James Vaughan scored after 40 seconds, but we rallied and threw the kitchen sink at Huddersfield for the rest of the game. Mark Yeates and Davy Klaassen scored their first goals to send us home with a smile on our faces.

Derby County 3 - 1 Peterborough United
Gone are the days of our watertight defence but at least we are now scoring goals. We went a goal down once more but hit back immediately, once again through Klaassen and Yeates and Bryson added gloss with a late tap in from a free-kick. We end October on a high note.

We were very unlucky with injuries at the beginning of this month but some players are starting to rejoin the squad. Mark O'Brien is sadly out for 3 months, which probably lead to the dissapointing defensive displays after the Cardiff game. Gjokaj returns from his loan to cover in defence, but Will Hughes and Miquel Velom return to action at the end of this month and we should be welcoming into the team lineup in the near future!
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Will is good enough to build a team around at 17 and I would like to keep him here for a couple more years for his development (and of course, for the club's development!)

In other news, Richard Keogh made his first appearance for Ireland after some great early season displays! Although his form dipped after injury to Mark O'Brien it has been a great start to his career here and long may that continue.
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And finally, my player of the month for October must be Mark Yeates. Some poor form from the likes of Ben Davies and Jamie Ward saw Yeatesey rise to the top of the pack and he was key to the comebacks in the last two games. Well played, son.
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A decent month again as we show some real signs of improvement. This has no doubt been helped by the return to action of some key players and some real hard work from the players themselves.

Derby County 2 - 2 Bristol City
A game we really should have won as we were 2-0 up with ten minutes remaining. Richard Keogh and Mark Yeates got the ball rolling within the first half hour and we were cruising to victory but two soft finishes gave Bristol an unlikely victory, much to my annoyance. Having said that it was a good performance and more of that will see us fly high come the end of the season.

Middlesbrough 0 - 1 Derby County
An excellent away victory courtesy of Craig Brysons strike on the hour. We looked strong throughout, and played some decent football. Gjokaj looked strong at centre-back as he held out the likes of Emnes and Miller. Good win.

Leeds United 2 - 3 Derby County
Something of a derby this one, and what a great victory. It should probably have been more as we were 3-0 up with ten minutes to go but Leeds staged a late fight back. Sammon bagged two classy headers before Klaassen's excellent finish put us firmly in the driving seat.

Hull City 0 - 0 Derby County
We were probably lucky to get a point in this game but seeing as how Hull were on a considerable unbeaten run and comfortable in 2nd, this was not a bad point. Top defending and goalkeeping from Fielding got us the point here.

Derby County 1 - 0 Birmingham
Another win, though we left it late in this one. Connor Sammon slotted home with 5 minutes remaining to send the home crowd wild but it might have been a lot different had Wes Thomas shown a little more composure in front of
goal for Birmingham.

Millwall 1 - 0 Derby County
Our unbeaten run came to a cruel end in the last few minutes of this game as Danny Shittu headed home a corner to give Millwall all three points. To be honest, we didn't deserve anything from the game as we looked completely short of ideas up front, despite the bubbly Will Hughes having an impressive first start.

This was a very good month for us. Big teams were swept aside at Pride Park, which we are making quite a fortress in recent matches.
Our on loan players and development players are also putting in some good shifts on loan and I shall compile a report on them in the New Year. Hogansson however is a player who is particularly impressing our scouts.

This month's Player of the Month is Connor Sammon:
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FEED THE FISH! Connor has had a great month in November and long may that continue. He was coming in for some real flack after his early performances but is a real menace when he's on top of his game and works incredibly hard for the team. Though I am actively looking for another striker, he is certainly impressing.

Not a bad start, it's good to build the squad around Will Hughes and Mason Bennett. Maybe you could add some pictures though. Makes it look a bit better in future updates.
thanks mate. yeah I think those two are the future, though I'm not sure mason is ready for the first team just yet.
was thinking I should do that but I'm not really sure what pictures I can add, and I'm not sure how to do screen shots on my mac as I'm fairly new to it, if anyone can help with that then please do ha! meanwhile, another update coming up.

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December is always a tough month and so it proved again but the boys put in some real shifts and showed that we have some real quality in our ranks.

Derby County 1 - 2 Burnley
A dissapointing result at home and we were lucky to only lose by one. Danny Ings scored twice from some defensive errors and we only pulled one back through a Lee Grant own goal. Not a great start to the month.

Derby County 2 - 0 Bolton
An excellent result and return to form. Connor Sammon gave us the lead after an hour before Klaassen doubled the advantage with a nice penalty. Top performance against a team chasing the play-offs.

Barnsley 3 - 1 Derby County
A really poor display against the team bottom of the table. We went 3-0 down before pulling one back through Davy Klaassen, but this was a poor display.

Crystal Palace 2 - 0 Derby County
Not a great performance from start to finish, Williams gave them the lead before Moritz doubled the lead late on. We knew Palace were a strong side but our toothless attack was really dissapointing on this occasion.

Derby County 0 - 1 Wolves
A second loss to Wolves of the season, and a dissapointing third loss on the bounce. We played extremely well in the first half but struggled to break the deadlock and were consigned to defeat in the 85th minute when Sigurdarson scrambled home. An unlucky loss.

Leicester City 0 - 3 Derby County
Much more like it, an excellent victory against our bitter rivals. Connor Sammon got us underway with a lovely finish before Jeff Hendrick's lovely finish. Davy Klaassen bagged another for the month to settle things. This was a great performance, no doubt helped by the return to action of the fantastic Mark O'Brien. Will Hughes was man of the match.

Blackpool 2 - 3 Derby County
What a game! With five minutes to go we were looking down the barrel of defeat, Delfouneso and Ferguson scoring either side of a Theo Robinson equaliser. But in the 89th minute Theo bundled home substitute Will Hughes' cross before Klaassen scored a wonderful 25 yard strike deep into injury time to end the month on a massive high.

So an up and down month on the pitch, but we end on a massive high! I have been really impressed with the work rate of the boys and I think we were unlucky on that losing streak. Ending the year in mid-table is good for a team on our budget and it's now time to scout the world ahead of next season, and also push for the play-offs to the end of this.

Special mention to Michal Hogansson who returned from loan to Cheltenham to make his debut against Blackpool before signing a new two year contract. He could well play a big part of the future of Derby County.
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We have missed John Brayford this month and he will remain on the sidelines until February which is a big disappointment, but it has allowed us to take a closer look at Kieron Freeman, an up and coming talent at full-back.

My player of the month for December will have to be Davy Klaassen. Four goals was a great return and we are already in talks with Ajax to see if we can make his loan deal a permanent one. So well done to Davy.
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So 2012 is over, and there is plenty to look forward to. I am delighted with the potential of this side and it is now that I can look to really mould the club to my style as I decide who will be staying at Pride Park come next season!

Good story so far mate, spewing about Will Hughes!! to take a screenshot on the mac hold down command, shift and 3
ahh nice one, I will try to incorporate a few more of them then. yeahh thanks pal, I'm looking forward to his development, he's been sick since coming back from injury. I reckon we've got a shot at the play-offs if he stays fit til the end of the season.

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Not the perfect month by any means, but we were forced to play a large number of games. I am convinced that with this period now out of the way, we can seriously push on in the league and I am aiming to challenge for the play-offs by the end of this campaign. We have also welcomed one new face to the team in the transfer window.

Derby County 4 - 1 Notts Forest
2013 could not have started any better than with a 4-1 win over your biggest rivals. Coutts bagged a wonder free kick before Jamie Ward scored his first goals of the campaign and Bryson added gloss to the scoreline with a top strike. A late penalty was scant consolation for Forest fans.

Barnsley 1 - 1 Derby County
FA Cup 3rd Round
Another chance at going somewhere in the cup and we managed a replay by the skin of our teeth, Davy Klaassen bagging with two minutes to go to earn us a rematch.

Watford 2 - 1 Derby County
Not a great performance as we squandered the lead given to us by Will Hughes, scoring his first professional goal for the club. Two sloppy defensive errors in the second half gave Watford the win.

Derby County 4 - 4 Barnsley
FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
A disastrous way to exit the cup as we squandered a three goal lead. Winning 4-1 with half an hour to go, I more than expected us to comfortably progress. Hughes' early penalty, followed by two Klaassen goals and Mason Bennett's first professional goal should have been enough but we were pegged back and then beaten on penalties, despite having 4 chances to win the shootout. Not good enough.

Derby County 0 - 0 Ipswich
Having played just a few days before, this was not a bad result. We probably had the better of the game but were also lucky not to lose when Hyam was through on goal only to be denied by Fielding. Overall, a decent point.

Charlton 1 - 0 Derby County
A poor end to a dissapointing month. We easily edged this occasion and had some real good opportunities but we were far too lapsidasical in front of goal. Much work to be done in the next few months.


Poor stuff to end the month, we are now 5 without a win in all competitions, but I am sure that will change soon. We are 7 points off the play-offs and we now have to really kick on seeing as we are out of both the cup competitions (much to my annoyance).

On the transfer front, we are scouting a number of players ahead of the summer - most notably full-back Danny Holmes from Tranmere and Notts County's Alan Judge. But on loan until the end of the season (and potentially a full contract waiting should things go well), is Simon Church from Reading:

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Simon completely fits the bill as to what we need ahead of the next few months. A full Welsh international who is selfless and assured in front of goal, I hope he will add valuable competition to Sammon and Robinson up top.

Congratulations is in order for Mason Bennett and Will Hughes who scored their first professional goals for the club this month. We are following their progress with delight and hopefully these are the first of many.
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In other news, young Wixted signed a professional contract for us, and we will look to loan the winger out next season, whilst tracking his development for the next few months.

So a tough month to take really, I thought we might do better after starting so well against Forest, but I am certain that things will pick up in February.


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Probably the month that best sums up this campaign so far. Plenty of promise but a lack of cutting edge at the most crucial times. We put in some good displays this month but appear to be stuck mid-table for the time being. The search goes on to add quality to the side this summer.

Derby County 1 - 1 Blackburn
A top display against a team chasing automatic promotion. We went behind deservedly but after a dressing down at half time the boys came out and gave it a really good go. Sammon's goal in the 77th minute pulled us back in the game and we might have won it if not for some great stops by Paul Robinson.

Sheffield Wednesday 0 - 2 Derby County
An excellent result against a team who really gave us a beating back in September. This shows how far we've come as a team as I think we've really matured. All this despite missing Richard Keogh. Goals from Will Hughes and Jamie Ward won the day.

Brighton 3 - 1 Derby County
Brighton are in blistering form at the moment and did the double over us with this victory. Ashley Barnes was too hot to handle for our boys and led Brighton to all three points despite Connor Sammon's attempt at revitalising the side.

Derby County 0 - 0 Cardiff City
Cardiff smashed us for four last time we met but we were expected to win this one comfortably given their current poor form. Despite that, we never looked too up for it in this game and despite having a number of opportunities, we were unable to beat the in form David Marshall.

In all fairness, I can't complain too much with this month. We lost to Brighton but considering their form that was hardly a surprise. If we are going to make the play-offs now though, we need to hit some real good form next month. Otherwise, we are planning to be staying in the Championship for next season.

The team is currently undergoing a full review to decide who will be staying here for the next season, who will spend time on loan to enhance their development, and those who do not have a future at the club. A full review of that will come after May.

Our player of the month for February will probably be Will Hughes. Will came back from a serious cruciate injury at the beginning of the season to become a key player and at just 17, the club will be expecting big things from him in the next campaign.
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MARCH 2013

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I said last month that results in March would decide whether or not we could challenge for a play-off spot. Sadly, an underperformance against Peterborough means that we are all but out of that race for this season at least. Inconsistency has been rife in our performances all campaign and I will address that over the summer.

Derby County 0 - 1 Huddersfield
Last summer's transfer target Woods bagged early on for Huddersfield as they then held on to 3 vital points in the mid-table scrap. We were toothless up front and it was a really poor display from the boys.

Derby County 0 - 1 Hull City
Hull are tough opponents and this was a hard game but the fact remains that that is another 3 games without scoring, and we didn't really even come close in this game. Poor standards to be setting at home.

Bristol City 0 - 2 Derby County
A return to form as we cruised to victory against struggling Bristol City. We looked good on the wings all game and got our first from a Jamie Ward cross that was turned in by Foster. Davy Klaassen added the gloss at the end after we had soaked up some intense Bristol City pressure and held on to win.

Derby County 5 - 2 Middlesbrough
A result that rekindled hopes of making the play-offs as we fought hard for a thorough demolition of Middlesbrough at Pride Park. Connor Sammon bagged a brilliant hat-trick, whilst Davy Klaassen and Jamie Ward added to really give Middlesbrough a thumping.

Peterborough United 2 - 0 Derby County
Sadly, a result that all but ended our dream of making the play-off spots come the end of the season. Peterborough have had a miserable season but are prone to putting on top performances when all things go their way. We had nearly 70% possession though and all the chances but failed to get past keeper Jason Brown.


We are 9 points off the play-offs with 7 games to go which is at this point probably too far to realistically challenge sadly but we have a couple of months left in which to push ourselves as high up in the table as possible and thus hopefully finish with more reward money to invest in the side next season.

The scouting continues as we draw up a more complete shortlist ahead of the summer transfer window. Expect transfers to be announced in the near future!

Theo Robinson bagged his first international goal for Jamaica, so congratulations are in order for him.

In other squad news, Adam Legzdins has requested a transfer away from Pride Park after failing to earn a place in the team lineup. This has been accepted and the Latvian expects to leave over the summer.

My player of the month for March would have to be Jamie Ward. Jamie has had a tough season by his standards, playing plenty of games but often out of position, but he has shown in recent months how important a player he can be. I'm hoping to see even more improvement from him next season.

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APRIL 2013

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I am delighted that our season looks like it will end on a high note. Despite showing signs that it would tail off, I pushed the lads to prove their worth ahead of next season and it's paid dividends with some great results. This really gives me confidence going into next season.

Derby County 2 - 0 Leeds United
A great start to the month as we gave the scum a good battering. Connor Sammon was in characteristically restless form and he bagged two nice goals to see them off.

Birmingham 2 - 0 Derby County
It does happen too often that we fail to pick up on some good form and seem to get a little bit complacent. All credit to Birmingham though who have been in fine form recently and look to be sure fits for the play-offs.

Derby County 0 - 3 Millwall
An unnacceptable result against a team struggling to stay in the league. We did dominate but our finishing was poor throughout and David Forde was in fine form. Defensively, we look a lot weaker without captain Keogh in the backline. Needless to say the boys were held back after this game and assured that this kind of performance was unnacceptable at Derby County.

Burnley 0 - 3 Derby County
And what a response I got. Burnley were 2nd in the table going into this game but we were all over them from the word go. Sammon bagged before playing in Will Hughes for the second. Simon Church replaced the injured Sammon late on and scored a lovely curling finish to seal a great victory. Much more like it..

Derby County 2 - 0 Barnsley
Back to back victories, and a much better attacking performance. When we are at our best we look so fluid, thanks mostly to the creativity and agility of Will Hughes and Mason Bennett who were in fine form this afternoon. Bennett got the ball rolling with his first league goal for the club before Jamie Ward wrapped things up.

Bolton Wanderers 1 - 2 Derby County
Looks like we should be finishing the season in the top half, and a great way to end the month. Bolton are scrapping around our parts of the table so there was a fair bit on this game, but we were lethal throughout on the counter. Craig Bryson broke the deadlock and Simon Church scored his second goal for the club to double things, and despite a late Mill's header, we weren't all that troubled.


4 wins from 6 this month is a good return. If we can be a bit more consistent and turn those losses into draws then next season I am sure we can push for the play-offs. This month gives me encouragement that this young side will start reaping their rewards in the very near future.

We missed out this month on the signing of Alex Barmby from Manchester United, as he joins Hull for a fee of £50k. Whilst dissapointing, the youngsters wage demands were far too high for a player at his stage in his development.

On our own home talent, it has been a great month for the younger players. Injuries have meant that the likes of Gjokaj, Bennett, Hughes and O'Brien have played in nearly every game, and shown real quality at times too. They certainly have a big part to play next season in ensuring we are challengers.

One concerning point for the majority of the season is the number of injuries we have sustained, as we once again top the charts in terms of players unavailable. I will look into better fitness coaches and physios ahead of the next campaign, and also review any players who are consistently being injured.

Player of the month for me is a tight one, as many of the youngsters were highly impressive. However, Craig Bryson has been in and out of the side this season, but was mightily impressive throughout this month so the award goes to him.

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One game left to go for this season, so here's hoping that we finish the season in the top half. Following that will be an end of season squad review and then all the latest transfer gossip for the summer.

MAY 2013

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A fine end to the season as we finished on a 4 match winning streak. Full credit to the boys for keeping their concentration levels up and I am now very confident going into next season. On top of that, we are closing in on some exciting transfers so I will update on that in due course.

Derby County 2 - 0 Crystal Palace
We could even afford the liberty of missing a penalty this afternoon as we cruised to a final day victory against Crystal Palace, leaving us an agonising 2 points off a play-off spot - something I am certain we will improve on next season. Jamie Ward continued his excellent end of season form with a lovely finish before Bryson scrambled home a free-kick for two. Mason Bennett won a penalty with neat footwork but Ward's effort was parried by Ben Amos.


So that's it for the 2012-2013 season! We put in some top performances at times, and although we probably only just achieved the expectations at the start of the season, I feel we have made considerable progress and if we can add to that over the summer then we are in for some good times next season.

My Assistant took the time to highlight that Valentin Gjokaj is making remarkable improvements in the past few months, whilst Fielding, Hendrick and Klaassen have all improved well over the course of the season.

With the games all wrapped up, I will prepare an end of season review and then on to the next campaign.


We've had a great season at Pride Park and it's time to assess who will remain part of this project come next season.

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Adam is a decent backup, and not much more. Sadly, he is not content to warm the bench and so he will probably move on this summer, we are actively on the lookout for a replacement.

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I remain to be entirely convinced by Frankie. He's an excellent shot stopper but at times he is caught wanting and his positioning is often wayward. Will most likely remain at the club next season though.

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JOHN BRAYFORD (38 Apps, 0 goals)
John is a top full back, to be honest there are few better in the Championship. He played the majority of games but missed a couple of months through injury. Will certainly remain next season.

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KIERON FREEMAN (15 Apps, 0 goals)
Kieron is unquestionably a talent, but has been found wanting when stepping in for Brayford on a number of occasions this season. I will probably seek out a loan move for him so that he can polish his game.

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MIQUEL NELOM (36 Apps, 0 goals)
Miquel settled in from the word go, so I am delighted with what was my first signing as Derby manager. He has come on leaps and bounds and I would be delighted to see his move become permanent though it is not looking promising at the moment.

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GARETH ROBERTS (12 Apps, 0 goals)
Gareth is a player at the twilight of his career, which makes the fact that he was the only available left back at the club when I joined all the more surprising. Is set to be released in June.

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MICHAEL HOGANSON (8 Apps, 0 goals)
Michael is a big, big talent. He has pace to burn and is improving his understanding of the game day by day. We are really excited by his potential but we intend to see him out on loan next campaign in order to enhance his development.

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JAKE BUXTON (17 Apps, 0 goals)
Jake has proven a reliable backup and will probably retain that role come next season. With the return of captain Shaun Barker not too far away though, he may be even more pushed for a place in the side.

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RICHARD KEOGH (36 Apps, 1 goal)
Richard put in some top shifts last season and even made his Republic of Ireland debut. He is a top player and I expect him to continue progressing next season.

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JAMES O'CONNOR (7 Apps, 0 goals)
James is a classic utility player. Sadly there is not much place for him in the side so he will be transfer listed this summer and placed in the reserves.

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MARK O'BRIEN (31 Apps, 0 goals)
Mark has come on leaps and bounds this campaign and we are absolutely thrilled by his progress. He is a shoe in whenever he's fit and always puts in a shift. We look forward to him improving next season.

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TOM NAYLOR (1 Apps, 0 goals)
Tom is a talented lad, but is not really getting a look in at the moment, and spent time on loan at Preston from January onwards. My Assistant rates him quite highly so I will send him on loan again next year and then decide on his future after that.

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VALENTIN GJOKAJ (20 Apps, 0 goals)
A player for whom I have a lot of time, Valentin is a seriously talented player. Covered for the injured Keogh at the end of the last campaign and really staked his claim for a starting spot. Big things expected of him next year.

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CRAIG BRYSON (36 Apps, 5 goals)
Craig is a top player, and despite being in and out of the side this campaign, he has shown real quality. A real workhorse and vital player, will definitely stay next campaign.

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PAUL COUTTS (39 Apps, 2 goals)
Paul's consistency has earned him rave reviews, as well as a couple of stunning free-kicks. Certain to stay next year.

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JEFF HENDRICK (35 Apps, 2 goals)
Jeff has done well this season and is still a raw talent. Expect him to become even more important next campaign - we are hoping for big things from this lad.

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MARK YEATES (21 Apps, 3 goals)
Yeatesey filled a gap at the beginning of the season and had a decent start to the campaign but injury forced him out of the side, and his place was taken by the likes of Will Hughes and Mason Bennett. Will go back to Watford in the summer.

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WILL HUGHES (29 Apps, 4 goals)
Will has been heavily touted as a star of the future, so there has been a lot of pressure on him to perform. They needn't have worried though, Will has been remarkable since coming back from injury and expect him to only get better next year. What an exciting player.

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DAVY KLAASSEN (41 Apps, 12 goals)
Davy is another dutch loanee, and what a season he had here at Pride Park, treating us to some exquisite goals and delightful football. Talks are ongoing to see him rejoin the club next year but his talent has been noticed elsewhere. All we can say is that we were happy to take on such a young star.

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SIMON CHURCH (10 Apps, 2 goals)
Simon joined on loan from Reading late in the campaign, but certainly made an impact with a couple of nice goals and impressive approach play. Out of contract in the summer, with Derby certainly one of the clubs with an interest.

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JAMIE WARD (36 Apps, 6 goals)
Jamie grew with significance as the season wore on and is a highly valued player at the club. We will look to hold onto him this summer.

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THEO ROBINSON (20 Apps, 3 goals)
Theo is a pacy forward with a good finish, but sadly never managed to hold down a starting spot. Out of contract in the summer, and seeing as how he failed to fit into the system in place, he will most likely depart.

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CONNOR SAMMON (37 Apps, 14 goals)
Feed the fish! Connor had a great season for us this campaign, combining his excellent hold up play with some nice finishes. I have been impressed and while I am actively searching for more players in this role, he will stay next season.

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MASON BENNETT (15 Apps, 2 goals)
Mason has had a fine breakthrough season at the club. At just 16 years of age, he has burst onto the scene and is ready for more football. May look to loan him out for the first few months of the season to help round a bit of his game off, especially as he was playing out of position here by the end of the campaign. Very exciting player though.


So there we have it, those are the boys at the club, and the following are the players on the transfer list/set to release:
Adam Legzdins
James O'Connor
Theo Robinson

And the players who will probably see loan time next season:
Kieron Freeman
Michael Hoganson
Mason Bennett
Tom Naylor

Meanwhile, I am actively searching ahead of the upcoming transfer window, and you will hear any news here first.​

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I am delighted to announce the arrival of young French winger Cyril Hannion to the club on a free transfer. I think this is an absolute steal for the club and I look forward to tracking his development.

Meanwhile, James O'Connor has left to join Ipswich in a £325,000 deal.​
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