Derby really did throw things away last season. At one point it seemed their dazzling form, combined with a great attack and an experienced manager would see them go up automatically, but a horrifying 3-0 home defeat to lowly Reading on the final day saw them drop out of the play-offs completely and the chance of promotion was gone. Paul Clement is in, and he’s building a side more than capable of going again.
Last Season: Championship (8th)
Manager: Paul Clement
GKs: Lee Grant, Scott Carson
DFs: Cyrus Christie, Craig Forsyth, Jake Buxton, Richard Keogh, Chris Baird, Jason Shackell, Alex Pearce, Isak Ssewankambo, Ryan Shotton, Stephen Warnock
MFs: Craig Bryson, Simon Dawkins, Jeff Hendrick, Will Hughes, Jamie Hanson, George Thorne
FWs: Chris Martin, Darren Bent, Johnny Russell, Tom Ince, Andreas Weimann
In: Chris Baird (West Brom), Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Scott Carson (Wigan Athletic), Alex Pearc (Reading), Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa), Tom Ince (Hull City), Jason Shackell (Burnley)
Out: Shaun Barker (Released), Sam Dryden (Dundee), Ross Etheridge (Accrington Stanley), John Eustace (Released), Luke Hendrie (Released), Josh Lelan (Northampton Town), Lee Naylor (Releassed), Tom Naylor (Burton Albion), Mark O’Brien (Luton Town), Rhys Sharpe (Notts County), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest), Zak Whitbread (Released)
First Six: Bolton Wanderers (A), Charlton Athletic (H), Middlesbrough (H), Birmingham City (A), Leeds United (H), Preston North End (A)
Likely Lineup: Carson – Christie, Keogh, Pearce, Warnock – Hughes, Bryson, Forsyth – Ince, Bent, Weimann
A word from…Gary Teale
On joining the club Honestly, it was because of the way it was similar to being at Wigan, they were a bigger club but they held that same ambition as we had to get into the Premier League and push on and with the size of the club I looked at as a great chance for myself with the facilities and the fans they had.
Even when things weren’t going well the fans were coming out in their droves and for me it’s a team that should be in the Premier League.
On a difficult Premier League season You always think you’re going to get a break here and there but in the Premier League there aren’t many teams that are going to give you anything. It’s such a tough league to go and play in with the quality of players there.
But a lot of the games that season we competed in a lot of the games, don’t get me wrong we took a few big defeats which happen but in other games we did really well. But it’s a really unforgiving place and that just keeps going, you’re up against it every single week and it felt like no matter what we do it was never going to turnaround for us.
On a new life under Nigel Clough No matter what level you’re playing at you want to play football, it was all about confidence and when things aren’t going for you your confidence does take a knock.
To come back and play games and play well was good, never as a player you’ll regret a game if you tried your best so to come back down under Nigel was good, he galvanised things and he had a lot of players he needed to get rid of to make the squad his own. I think he did a good job and I think he was unlucky to leave his job. But everything about the club was fantastic and the fans were great even though we took a bit of stick during that time, they always come along in their numbers.
On the new campaign and new manager They’ve brought in a good manager with a big pedigree and he’s got a great background. A number of clubs had been linked with him but Derby has great potential to get back in the Premier League and I’m sure he looked at that.
Mel Morris will back the manager given where he’s come from and his reputation, he’ll have been looking for his first job at a club with big ambition and financially strong and Derby for me is a Premier League club, they’re going to have work hard though after falling short last season. Someone will have to put their finger on why that happened and I’m sure they’ll be looking at that.
On summer recruitment When you look at the squad, there’s plenty of experience and talent so they should be right up there but football doesn’t always work like that.
Football’s got a funny habit of making a few surprises, like at Wigan nobody in a million years expected us to do it but we had an ambitious manager and a chairman willing to spend and perhaps even Watford last season, nobody saw that coming at the start of the season. There are always surprises and you’ve got to watch out for that.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: There’s absolutely no reason why Derby can’t go up this season. Paul Clement has the right ingredients to be a success and he’s brought in some great quality for that level. Promotion is a must with the squad he’s assembled.
Key Player: Darren Bent – He may have regretted that penalty miss on the final day but he’s incredibly experienced and a proven scorer in the Premier League. If he hits the ground running, he’s at least a 20 goal per season striker.
One to Watch: Andreas Weimann – This could be a great signing for Derby. Weimann had a brief period in the sun in the Premier League and he should shine in the Championship. He’s got goals to his game and will complete a great front three for the Rams.