Vital Derby ed. Mike C gives us the inside track on the Rams
How has the season matched your hopes and fears?
Pretty much where I`d expect us to be really, sad to say a comfortable mid-table finish is about the height of our expectations and a step forward after the last few years at Pride Park.
Whilst some fans think this shows a lack of ambition I think the approach taken by Nigel Clough to put the club on a sound financial footing and make the squad younger and hungrier is working, if only at a slow pace.
Don`t get me wrong it can be frustrating at times but if he is given time to complete this project we`ll get there in the end.
Is Nigel Clough getting any closer to the winning formula following the annual re-vamp?
I would say he is definitely heading in the right direction, it`s slower progress then some would like but we`re now a hard side to beat (most of the time!) and don`t lose games through lack of effort or interest as appeared to be the case in the past. We do lack a bit of flair and quality going forward at times but we are not far away from being a good side with the right signings in the summer.
How is former Hornet Theo Robinson getting on at Pride Park?
His improvement this season has been remarkable, he`s by no means the finished article and he is still as likely to hit row z as the back of the net every time he winds up to shoot but he is a threat and has the pace we have sorely missed in recent seasons.
When he first signed last year we were in a bad run and at times he ranked amongst the worst strikers I`ve seen at Pride Park but this year with a run in the side he has shown what Clough saw in him in the first place. His work rate makes him a favourite with the fans, if the boy had a first touch he could go far.
You won 1-0 at the ‘Vic earlier in the season with a smash and grab. I can’t say I was too impressed with how Derby played that day – how much, if at all, have you come on since then?
I think we are a hard working, solid side who try to play football but if a few players aren`t quite on their game then we can look pretty average as we aren`t blessed with creativity throughout the side. When things are going well we are a match for most sides I`ve seen in the Championship but with such a young side when things aren`t going well it can be hard work
Who is they key man for Derby and why?
We`re more of a team than relying on any real individuals although Steve Davies has looked dangerous since his return from a fractured skull and has scored three in his last two starts and scored the winner against your lot earlier this season.
Jamie Ward has also been a threat for most of the season but is currently out injured so it`ll be interesting to see if anyone can take his place.
If you could inflict one Ram on us in exchange for one of our players who would you switch and why?
There are a couple of players within our squad who seem to be there to make the numbers up on low wages but they don`t really feature enough to want to get rid of them. Having save said that noone would probably notice if Conor Doyle left the club, I still haven`t worked out quite what he does and where he plays in nearly two years at the club.
With the last couple of performances I think we could sneak a win from this one, we never beat anyone comfortably though so I`d go for a one goal win, possibly with us coming from behind judging by recent performances.
Where will you finish this season?
We`ll finish roughly where we are now I think, maybe just sneak into the top half if we pick up a few more results. We`re not going to go on a run and reach the play-offs and there`s some pretty awful sides in the bottom few places meaning that even if we nosedive in results we`d be safe so mid-table feels about right.
Cheers Mike, good to hear that Theo appears to have settled and is enjoying his football.