Steve McClaren inherited a good squad
8 May ~ My team, Derby County, are about take on Brighton in the play-offs and I feel a bit like the cure for cancer has just been discovered by Piers Morgan. What's more, I've been here before. In 2007 when we beat West Brom to get promoted to the Premier League, my excitement and delight was offset by recognising what an unpleasant manager we had in Billy Davis. There are similar emotions this time, not because I have any dislike for Steve McClaren, who seems a good bloke and is a fine manager. My gripe is with the relentless media line of how he has "really turned Derby around".
Nigel Clough was dismissed at the end of September after nine League games in which his team took 11 points. Against the same nine teams Steve McClaren has taken 12 points. We played five of the final top eight in the first nine games. It's a good omen that in one of those games we beat Brighton 2-1 away, with eight of the team that played in our final home game against Watford.
After that game Clough said: "We believe we are as good as anyone in the league. We have got to get confidence through to our young side to help with that belief." He deserved a bit more time to make his point. To his credit McClaren knows that he has been lucky. Indeed he has made numerous references to the work done by his predecessor and how he "inherited a good squad with good players".
Heading into the play-offs we have our most settled back five in years, and a Lampardesque midfield goal machine in Craig Bryson (who has scored 16, with two hat-tricks). The bench will be important in these games and I have a sneaking suspicion Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford, who probably won't start, could make a difference when coming on.
If we triumph at Brighton then at Wembley, McClaren will have done a great job, but this squad has been four years in the building and I can't help feeling that the man who should have been guest of honour will be missing the party. Simon Truckle