Well, if I can’t get myself motivated for this one there’s something seriously wrong. It’s the fixture we all looked out for first, and here it is! Certainly there’s a bit more nervousness than perhaps we’ve felt of late – but as we know, form doesn’t mean a jot in these fixtures.
Certainly the numerous Derby fans of my acquaintance haven’t come across as over-confident in the run-up to this game.
Having said that, they’ve all joined the clamour to get tickets though, and will be ensconced in the away end hoping to see them turn us over in our own back yard. Given how long it took me to finally see us register a win at Pride Park, it’s an understandable impulse – and it’s not like the Rams haven’t been able to do that to us on our pitch in fairly recent history.
I suspect they’re quietly confident but laying the psychological groundwork to minimise office-based ribaldry come Monday morning should the Reds triumph. I’d be lying if I said I’d not been meticulously downplaying our own chances of winning in the same manner.
We’ve just sent David McGoldrick out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday so that – with all due respect Dave – is one less sigh for me to make upon seeing what line-up Steve McClaren opts for. Hopefully that means that Ishmael Miller and Robbie Findley are fit for this – the official site is claiming doubts for Anderson, Tudgay, Findley and Boateng – as well, of course, as Blackstock and McCleary.
Could the loaning out of one of our strikers be a sign of an incoming emergency loan in the run up to this most crucial of games? Hmm. I wouldn’t like to bet much cash on it, but who knows?
As for our Sheepy neighbours – the big news for them is the long-awaited return to fitness of Nathan Tyson, who is highly likely to make his league debut for the Rams following his summer switch from the nice end of the A5-2. Whether Nigel Clough opts to start with him (I think he will), or perhaps utilise him as an impact sub remains to be seen – it will be interesting to see the kind of reaction he gets.
Personally I don’t hold much of a grudge against him – a committed and hard-working lad in his time at Forest, with fairly limited ability and certainly past his prime given pace is his main asset. And of course, as Derby have already discovered, incredibly injury-prone! Certainly he’ll be on the end of some banter from the crowd but I’d hope not with any real malice.
Derby have obviously enjoyed a much better start to the season than us – indeed, their best start since 1905 I think – although that 100% start has inevitably started to look like a tail-off, and you have to be a bit disappointed with a defeat against Coventry. As for us, going forward at times we’ve looked sublime – in defence we’ve looked less experience than an under-12s team.
If, and it’s a big if, we can take the game to Derby and keep the emphasis on attacking then we have a chance – but if we let Derby attack us, unless our defensive coaching has somehow miraculously more effective then we could find ourselves in trouble. A tough game to predict at the best of times – but certainly I would hope that McClaren and co will realise the potency of a win here in lifting the mood of the supporters.
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It’s going to be a tense afternoon, I fear – and after an early start to give myself a suitable mental blanket of alcohol – I’m hoping that the fans play their part in getting behind the boys. We worked hard to win and retain the Brian Clough Trophy last season – let’s do all we can to keep hold of it, by winning too – not by drawing.
We definitely shouldn’t lose though. I wouldn’t like that very much at all.
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