4 reasons why Derby will still go down
10 points from Derby County over their past four games despite a busy festive fixture list has breathed hope into the loyal fans of the Championship club.
A 21-point deduction earlier in the season had all but sent the East Midlands club into the third tier of English football for the first time in more than 35 years.
However, Wayne Rooney’s side have shown incredible fight in recent weeks – beating Bournemouth and drawing with Fulham earlier in the month.
The current unbeaten streak started with a 1-0 win over Blackpool, then the same scoreline versus promotion contenders West Bromwich Albion, a 2-1 win at playoff hopefuls Stoke City, before their dramatic fightback to draw 2-2 at Reading on Bank Holiday Monday.
Wayne Rooney has received great praise for remaining in charge of the Rams despite all the setbacks the club have faced over the past year or so, all out of the England record goalscorer’s hands.
However, those who believe Derby County can pull off a miracle escape are likely to be left disappointed by the end of the campaign. Here are 4 reasons that will see Derby playing League One football next season:
The biggest emergency the club have is Phil Jagielka’s contract is set to expire on January 17. The 39-year-old has been a rock alongside Curtis Davies in central defence this season. Without either, it’s fair to say Derby would be nowhere near their 11-point tally.
Whilst the former-England international may get an extension until the end of the season, there are other worries for the Rams.
Curtis Davies, Graeme Shinnie, Colin Kazim-Richards, Nathan Byrne, Tom Lawrence, Ryan Allsop, Craig Forsyth, Lee Buchanan, Festy Ebosele and Louie Watson are just some of the players who will be out of contract at the end of the season.
All of them have been important for Derby this season and all of them can be forgiven if they start negotiating a deal elsewhere as early as January. With their heads turned, will they really give it their all for Derby during the second half of the season?
Derby are only within 11 points of safety because of their haul of points in recent games. Their form will come to an end at some point.
Without their points deduction they would currently sit 14th in the table. To stay up, they will likely need 46+ points, which means replicating the form of Fulham during the first 23 games of the season – they simply do not have the quality to do this.
On top of their own form dipping at some point, the likes of Peterborough, Reading, Cardiff City and Hull City above them are inevitably going to pick up more points themselves, to great distance themselves. What’s more, they each have 1-2 games in hand.
Luck will run out
There’s an old saying, “winners create their own luck”.
Whilst that has some truth behind it, no team in world football has benefited from more luck than Derby County over Christmas.
They were being pummelled by West Bromwich Albion on 27 December before a mix up in defence gifted Colin Kazim-Richards a tap in for the only goal of the game. That’s 2-3 lucky points.
In their next game, Stoke City had equalised and gotten on top of the Rams in the closing stages, before their own defence gave the ball to Derby in a dangerous position that lead to Kazim-Richards’ winner. Another 2-3 lucky points.
At Reading on Bank Holiday Monday, the hosts had a comfortable 2-0 lead with five minutes remaining without Derby really creating anything of note. Then goalkeeper Luke Southwood inexplicably misjudged a cross for Derby’s first goal. They showed good fighting spirit to get an equaliser but it wouldn’t have been possible without the first. That’s another 1 lucky point.
Arguably, Derby didn’t deserve any, or at least, many, of those recent points. And once their luck runs out then they won’t be picking up points. Similarly to how they lost to Peterborough United, Barnsley and Bristol City earlier this season when luck wasn’t on their side.
With a small squad it’s inevitable that fatigue will kick in during the second half of the campaign. That would be critical at centre-back where Davies and Jagileka have been absolutely crucial to any points they have gained this season. Richard Stearman is the only backup.
Derby also lack goalscorers, so if 35-year-old Kazim-Richards needs a rest then there really isn’t much else going for them. With Lee Buchanan potentially on his way out in January, Craig Forsyth is the only out-and-out left-back.
Injuries are inevitable. If any of the aforementioned are sidelined for any period of time then you can kiss Derby’s hopes of survival goodbye. They have done well replacing Graeme Shinnie in recent weeks, and Krystian Bielek on the first half of the season in general, but central midfield is the one position they have depth.
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