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Derby (H) - 15:00 Sat 21st Nov - What Can We Expect?


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Derby County – Sat 21st November 15:00 – What Can We Expect?

I’ve spent much of the international break wondering whether Derby’s poor start to the season and the progression of the recent takeover might result in a change of manager and make this review less relevant.  Well on Saturday evening I got my answer with Phillip Cocu and his coaching staff losing their jobs.

The Rams have made an awful start to the season, registering just one win and three draws in eleven games and find themselves in bottom place with just 6 points.  That’s behind Sheffield Wednesday who gave them a six-point head start (reduced from twelve).  They are only two points behind Coventry in the place above the relegation zone but are on a 7-game winless run.  All is not rosy at Pride Park and the expectation was that Derby would be amongst the early season pacesetters.

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Pic 1 - Championship Table ahead of this weekend's fixtures [BBC Sport]

Who’s the boss:

With Cocu leaving on Saturday evening, Derby have put Wayne Rooney, ex-Ireland keeper Shay Given, ex-City player Liam Rosenior and Development Coach Justin Walker in temporary charge.  Rooney and Rosenior have been given responsibility for selecting the team for this fixture.

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Pic 2 – successfully hedging my bets on who might be in-charge?  Former manager Phillip Cocu with Wayne Rooney

Recruitment:

There definitely seems to have been a real change of tack in transfers over the summer – moving away from past season’s excesses (in an attempt to gain promotion) towards compliance under Profitability and Sustainability (S&P / FFP) rules.  Couple that with less income due to Covid, Mel Morris no longer having assets to sell (Pride Park), their accounting methods coming under scrutiny by the EFL and we see Derby having to play by the same rules as everyone else.  This has meant most Championship clubs have to sell to survive.  In Derby’s case we’ve also seen Mel Morris sell the club to Abu Dhabi investors (yet to be finalised) and summer recruitment reflecting the ‘new norm’ rather than Mel’s way of doing things.  

We also see Derby finding it hard to retain their exciting youngsters, whilst not getting full value for them as they attempt to balance the books.  Add in out of contract players like Chris Martin only being offered a one-year (plus one) deal and club’s like ourselves can snatch them by offering more attractive deals. 

Players in: 

Kamil Jozwiak – Lech Posnan (£3.8m)

Emmanuel Idem – Canvey Island (Free)

Mike te Wierik – FC Groningen (Free)

Nathan Byrne – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Matt Clarke – Brighton (Loan – 2nd season)

David Marshall – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Jordan Ibe – out of contract

Colin Kazim-Richards – out of contract

Players out: 

Jayden Bogle – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Max Lowe – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Chris Martin – Bristol City (Free)

Florian Jozefzoon – Rotherham (Loan)

Henrich Ravas – Hartlepool (Loan)

Jack Marriott – Sheffield Wednesday (Loan)

Scott Malone – Millwall (Loan)

Mason Bennett – Millwall (Undisclosed)

Jonathan Mitchell – Northampton (Loan)

Ikechi Anya – released

Tom Huddlestone - released 

Formation / System 

Having started the season with a 4231 and three straight defeats, a change to 541 brought former-manager Cocu his only win (against Norwich).  However, defeat in the next match (Watford) brought various tweaks to 3412 and 343 and even back to 4231 as results continued to disappoint.  We will need to wait and see how the new management quadruplet set Derby up.  In his last game in charge Cocu started with a 343.  

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Pic 3 - Derby start with a 343 versus Barnsley [Wyscout]

By half-time the back three had been dispensed with as Derby switched to 433.

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Pic 4 - Derby change from 343 to 433 for the second half

Matt Clarke (16) was withdrawn at the interval, replaced by Jozwiak (7) and Rooney (32) was moved back into midfield.  Sibley (17) entered the game but played in a much deeper role than normal.  Lawrence (10) was subbed off for Kazim-Richards (13).  Over the season we have seen several changes between a back three and a back four not just between games but in-game also.  Shades of Lee Johnson last season perhaps and little consistency as a result?

How do they play:

Under a cultured footballer like Cocu it was hardly surprising to see that there was an emphasis on trying to play good football from the back.  When playing a back three the side centre-backs would split to create passing options and the opposition forwards would have large distances to cover. Add in attack minded wingbacks like Nathan Byrne and Lee Buchanan and you get the picture.  When the ball is moved quickly then the initial press can be beaten.  We saw earlier this season how Bentley and Mawson’s high tempo and accurate distribution got City on the front foot in possession.

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Pic 5 - Derby's centre-backs split wide versus Barnsley

This has been a key part of Derby’s build-up, especially with ball-playing Clarke on the left-side.  However on this occasion David Marshall under hits the pass and Chaplin (Barnsley) anticipates, intercepts and shoots past the keeper to put Derby behind.  This may have also been a result of Bielik (the intended recipient) being rusty having been out injured long-term.  If Derby are sloppy there will be opportunities for City to thwart Derby’s build-up with a well-triggered press.

Without the ball Derby are one of the few sides in the Championship who don’t apply much of a press on the opposition build-up.

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Pic 6 - Derby allow lots of passes [Wyscout]

The above chart (courtesy of Derby Twitter Analyst @11pts1win) shows that Derby allow more passes per defensive action (PPDA – before a defensive duel, tackle, interception or foul) than most teams.  We can therefore expect to see Derby happily sit passively behind the ball and allow their opponents to play in-front of them.  City themselves aren’t a heavy pressing team either so perhaps we will see both teams enjoy spells of possession.  That’s fine until the opposition play passes through them!

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Pic 7 - no pressure on the passer versus Cardiff

In the example above we see Marlon Pack (Cardiff) under no pressure, and he can therefore pick a pass between the lines.  Derby have plenty of players behind the ball but none of them are marking or tracking runs.  One pass through a sloppy midfield and Cardiff are in a threatening position.

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Pic 8 - Plenty of defenders but Cardiff's Moore still scores

As the move develops, we can see Lawrence (10) hasn’t moved and just watches the action behind him.  But we can also see five Derby defenders up against two Cardiff strikers and Ojo who is advancing with the ball.  In fairness we saw similar traits in City’s backline against Norwich / Pukki and to a lesser extent against Huddersfield.  We will however have to wait and see if Derby play with more defensive intensity under the new regime.

How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney?

As wonderful a player Wayne Rooney has been over the years, are we starting to see the wane of Wayne?  There seemed to be a desire from Cocu to accommodate him in the team no matter what, and the team shuffled around as a result.  It is pretty clear that Rooney no longer has the legs to play in the same way that made him one of the best players in Europe, but we see in last season’s fixture at Ashton Gate how he can make the Rams tick from a deeper midfield role.  His partnership with Max Bird that night was very good.  They worked well together to move the ball quickly through the centre of the pitch to create overloads on the wings.

We’ve already seen above that Rooney went from centre-forward to a deep-midfield position versus Barnsley (see pic 4).  In the previous match against QPR we saw more changes.

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Pic 9 - Rooney versus QPR

In this match, Rooney (highlighted) starts as one of the three attacking midfielders with Jozwiak and Lawrence outside him.  Cocu moves to a 442 early in the game and Rooney switches to centre-forward alongside Waghorn, then another Cocu tactical change leaves Rooney up-top on his own as Waghorn is moved into a wide-forward role.

This wasn’t the only example!

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Pic 10 - Rooney on the move again versus Bournemouth

In the previous match to QPR, Rooney starts as the left-forward in a three with Lawrence and Waghorn, but then switches to the ‘number 10’ role for the second half. I would suggest the constant tinkering of shape, system and personnel is not helping Derby nor Rooney who has just one goal this season, a free kick versus Norwich.  Last season he scored 6 goals, assisted 4 more and was generally a significant contributor to the way they played.  Watching Rooney playing up front on his own and being asked to run the channels one minute, then play in the hole the next, does not appear to be the best use of a player that can still pick a pass and dictate the play.

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Pic 11 - Rooney drops deep versus Barnsley

In the above example we see Rooney drop into a much more effective deeper position where he can use his vision to spring Derby’s forwards with good movement.  Lawrence is the beneficiary as he runs off of the shoulder of Helik (the scorer against City at Oakwell) to shoot against the keeper’s legs.

Will Rooney pick himself and what position will be play?

Plenty of possession but no penetration: 

Derby have scored just 5 goals in 11 games and from an outsider looking in you might question why Derby allowed a goalscorer like Jack Marriott to go to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.  However, if you look at Marriott’s recent goals record (2 in 32 last season), albeit with many appearances from the bench you perhaps realise that it’s not his goals that are missing factor this time around.

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In the last two games (Barnsley left, QPR right – courtesy of Twitter’s @DymondFormation) we can see that there is very little threat in and around the box.  If you then overlay the fact that Derby made almost 1200 passes across both games (712 and 486), its beginning to look like Derby have a real problem getting into the opposition penalty area.  The league average is 361 passes per 90 match (Data from Wyscout) so Derby are making a considerable amount of passes but too many are between goalkeeper and defence and lacking purpose.  

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In the chart above (thanks to @SwansAnalytics for his timely tweet!) we can see that Derby make the most passes per possession, hence why they are on the far right of the x-axis.  But their average forward pass distance is the lowest in the Championship, bottom of the y-axis.  This alone isn’t a bad thing, as we can see the likes of Norwich and Brentford with similar profiles.  Couple this information with the heat maps above and it’s almost like Derby get a nosebleed when they approach the opposition’s final third.  City in comparison are bang in the centre of the chart, and when you link this with their ability to create chances inside the box (67% of City’s shots come from inside the penalty area, Derby just 52%) you start to build a picture.  Look a little deeper into the numbers and you’ll find that Derby have the worst xG in the Championship.  A firmer picture evolves!

Looking beyond the data, what has changed?

Perhaps a certain 32-year-old centre forward, you know the one who was their second top-scorer last season, the one that’s now leading our forward line – yes, assist-king Chris Martin.  I’ve long been an admirer of the ex-Scotland international’s game and despite his lack of pace, his ability to act as a chest-down target man is right up there in terms of the top Championship strikers.  His ability to link up with defenders when they’re under pressure and retain the ball is top drawer, but it’s when you can feed balls into him around the box that he comes into his own.  His strength and control give his teammates confidence to make runs off of him.  I think he’s been a big loss to Derby’s attack this season.  Below we will see two scenarios where Derby are missing Martin, firstly one where he supported his defence in possession and another where Derby’s midfield has strong territory.

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Pic 12 - Derby missing Martin's link-up play

Against Barnsley, Nathan Byrne (RWB) gets the ball from Bielik (RCB), but with Derby’s double-pivot of Shinnie and Knight not offering a pass inside, all Byrne can do is look forward.  In this situation last season, Martin would be dropping short and providing an option to link up.  He’d drag a centre-back with him if nothing else, and that would create space in the gap behind.

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Pic 13 - Derby's front three all run away from Byrne

However, Waghorn, Lawrence and Rooney have all made runs away from Byrne.  As it happens Byrne’s long pass is good and Waghorn retains possession.  Often this season possession has been turned over in similar circumstances, which then sees a huge gap created between Derby’s three units, and they get easily passed through.

In established phases of possession, the lack of a target like Martin together with muddled patterns of play make it easier to keep Derby at bay, forcing them to play in-front of the opposition defence.

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Pic 14 - Derby with no passing route into the forward line

Last season Rooney would be looking to feed the ball into Martin with the likes of Lawrence and Waghorn running off of him.  But we can see that there is a player blocking the pass into the frontman and therefore the build-up carries little threat and Barnsley force Derby sideways with good intensity on the ball.

To break through the constant side-to-side passing Derby have been reliant on pieces of individual skill from the likes of Lawrence and Jozwiak, so City will still need to be on their guard.

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Pic 15 - Byrne throws in towards Knight versus Barnsley

We can see in the above example that Knight is looking to let the ball run across his body so that he can open out possession to Derby’s left.  Barnsley and their hectic press lie in wait with four players ready to pounce as he turns towards the centre of the pitch.

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Pic 16 - Knight takes 4 "Pawns" out of the game

With a good close control and a bit of skill Knight evades Woodrow whilst sucking Barnsley’s two defensive midfielders towards him.  He slips the ball into Jozwiak who drives towards the penalty area before sliding in left wingback Buchanan, but unfortunately, he shoots into the near post side-netting.  But a simple example where one piece of clever play can unlock a congested area.  There’s not been enough of this type of play this season though.

Set-pieces: 

As mentioned earlier, Derby have only scored 5 goals in the Championship this season.  3 of those 5 have come from direct free-kicks just outside of the penalty area:

§  Rooney (Norwich)

§  Waghorn (Nottingham Forest)

§  Waghorn (Cardiff)

Another came from a charged down free-kick where Shinnie netted the rebound (Bournemouth) so it’s an area of the pitch that City can ill-afford to give away cheap fouls.  The good news is that City give away the second least number of fouls in the Championship.

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Pic 17 - City fouls versus Cardiff

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Pic 18 - City fouls versus Huddersfield

Even better news is that they rarely foul around the penalty area, just two all season.  Maybe there is one advantage of being a bit too nice!

In terms of attacking corners, there is nothing particularly creative / inventive with Derby’s corners, but with Rooney’s delivery they do carry a potential threat.

The Players / line-up:

Not an easy one to predict with a new management team in place, so here’s Derby’s options in a 4231.

GK: David Marshall (35) – experienced shot stopper who will be full of confidence after his penalty save against Serbia saw Scotland progress to the Euros.  Started at Celtic before a loan spell at Norwich was made permanent, then moves to Cardiff, Hull and Wigan.  Signed for Derby in the summer as part of Wigan’s dire financial situation.  He is backed up by Kelle Roos (28) – the Dutchman who has had numerous loan spells since signing for Derby in 2014.

RB: Nathan Byrne (28) – well-travelled wingback who started at Tottenham and enjoyed loan spells at Brentford and Swindon.  The Swindon loan was made permanent and he was a key player in Swindon’s promotion challenge in 2014/15 that ultimately fell short.  He did secure a £1.2m move to Wolves off of the back of it though, before moving to Wigan in 2016.  Followed Marshall to Derby in the summer.  Will be battling it out with Andre Wisdom (27) – the former Liverpool Academy graduate had a loan spell at Pride Park back in 2014 but took a diversion at West Brom, Norwich and RB Salzburg before signing permanently for £2m in 2017.

LB: Lee Buchanan (19) – came through the ranks at Derby and looks to have made the left back / wingback slot his own this season with the departure of Max Lowe.  Likes to get forward and create the overlap.    Providing back-up is Craig Forsyth (31) – the former Dundee man who joined Derby from Watford back in 2013.

CB: Curtis Davies (35) – vastly experienced centre-back who’s managed to get himself back in the team of late.  Had stints at West Brom, Aston Villa, Leicester (loan), Birmingham and Hull and several million in transfer fees to boot before signing for the Rams in 2017 for £500k.  It is possible the versatile Krystian Bielik (22) – may come back into side having recently returned from a long-term knee ligament injury.  The former Arsenal man is a full Polish international and made his Championship comeback against Barnsley last time out.

CB: Matt Clarke (24) – on loan from Brighton for the second season running and perhaps the result of Adam Webster haunting him again having been at Ipswich and Portsmouth too.  Plays on the left side and more than capable on the ball.  Another option is Mike te Wierik (28) – who signed on a free transfer from Groningen in the summer, but he’s been in and out of the side since his red card on his league debut.

CM: Jason Knight (19) – just been called up to the full Ireland side having started every league match this season.  Started at Irish side Cabinteely before signing for the Rams in 2017.  His versatility is making him a regular and he’s already close to 50 Derby appearances.  George Evans (25) – is a possibility although he’s had more minutes in the back three this season.  Started at Manchester City before moving on a free to Reading in 2016.  This is his third season at Pride Park.

CM: Graeme Shinnie (29) – former Inverness player who was heavily linked with City whilst at Aberdeen before making the move South to Derby last summer on a free.  Provides some grit in the midfield and is a full Scottish international.  Battling it out for a place is Max Bird (20) – another player to come through the ranks.  Not been in the starting line-up of late but got plenty of ability.

RAM: Kamil Jozwiak (22) – Polish international who signed in September from Lech Posnan for £3.8m.  Settled in pretty well and looks like he will be a good signing.  Jordan Ibe (24) – the former Liverpool and Bournemouth wideman has yet to feature this season.

CAM: Wayne Rooney (35) – former Everton, Manchester United and DC United player who needs little introduction. England’s record scorer with 53 goals and now caretaker coach.  We will see whether he picks himself otherwise Duane Holmes (26) – the US born; versatile attacking midfielder may get a start.  The former Huddersfield man moved to Derby for £700k in August 2018.

LAM: Tom Lawrence (26) – started at Manchester United before moving to Leicester for £1.1m in 2014.  A succession of loans followed at Rotherham, Blackburn, Cardiff and Ipswich before he moved to Derby for £5m in 2017.  Exciting dribbler with an eye for a goal, he now has 20 Welsh caps.  My DANGERMAN!

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Pic 19 - Tom Lawrence my man to watch on Saturday

CF: Martyn Waghorn (30) – experienced striker who can play anywhere along the forward line.  Started at Sunderland before a series of loan and permanent deals at Charlton, Leicester (£3.2m), Hull, Millwall, Wigan and Rangers (£1m) saw him arrive at Derby in 2018 for £5m.  Over 100 career goals and an aggressive player who is happy to leave his mark on his opponent.  Louis Sibley (19) – might get a start, but he’s been goal-shy this season having burst onto the scene last season with a hat-trick against Millwall.  He can also play behind the frontman.  Further competition is provided by Colin Kazim-Richards (34) – signed on a free last month as the window shut.

Prediction (pre-Press Conference):

Although the form of both sides will be negated by a two-week break, Derby’s managerial change and City’s Covid cases meaning a restricted preparation, I still see City doing enough to gain the win.  

Bristol City 2:1 Derby County

 

Edited by Davefevs
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18 minutes ago, Davefevs said:

 

Derby County – Sat 21st November 15:00 – What Can We Expect?

I’ve spent much of the international break wondering whether Derby’s poor start to the season and the progression of the recent takeover might result in a change of manager and make this review less relevant.  Well on Saturday evening I got my answer with Phillip Cocu and his coaching staff losing their jobs.

The Rams have made an awful start to the season, registering just one win and three draws in eleven games and find themselves in bottom place with just 6 points.  That’s behind Sheffield Wednesday who gave them a six-point head start (reduced from twelve).  They are only two points behind Coventry in the place above the relegation zone but are on a 7-game winless run.  All is not rosy at Pride Park and the expectation was that Derby would be amongst the early season pacesetters.

13AD63E8-0AC3-4582-BF25-BF44CEF9924B_4_5005_c.thumb.jpeg.d5936b90e8d7e5b6d8b8b735f14d5ae8.jpeg

Pic 1 - Championship Table ahead of this weekend's fixtures [BBC Sport]

Who’s the boss:

With Cocu leaving on Saturday evening, Derby have put Wayne Rooney, ex-Ireland keeper Shay Given, ex-City player Liam Rosenior and Development Coach Justin Walker in temporary charge.  Rooney and Rosenior have been given responsibility for selecting the team for this fixture.

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Pic 2 – successfully hedging my bets on who might be in-charge?  Former manager Phillip Cocu with Wayne Rooney

Recruitment:

There definitely seems to have been a real change of tack in transfers over the summer – moving away from past season’s excesses (in an attempt to gain promotion) towards compliance under Profitability and Sustainability (S&P / FFP) rules.  Couple that with less income due to Covid, Mel Morris no longer having assets to sell (Pride Park), their accounting methods coming under scrutiny by the EFL and we see Derby having to play by the same rules as everyone else.  This has meant most Championship clubs have to sell to survive.  In Derby’s case we’ve also seen Mel Morris sell the club to Abu Dhabi investors (yet to be finalised) and summer recruitment reflecting the ‘new norm’ rather than Mel’s way of doing things.  

We also see Derby finding it hard to retain their exciting youngsters, whilst not getting full value for them as they attempt to balance the books.  Add in out of contract players like Chris Martin only being offered a one-year (plus one) deal and club’s like ourselves can snatch them by offering more attractive deals. 

Players in: 

Kamil Jozwiak – Lech Posnan (£3.8m)

Emmanuel Idem – Canvey Island (Free)

Mike te Wierik – FC Groningen (Free)

Nathan Byrne – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Matt Clarke – Brighton (Loan – 2nd season)

David Marshall – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Jordan Ibe – out of contract

Colin Kazim-Richards – out of contract

Players out: 

Jayden Bogle – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Max Lowe – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Chris Martin – Bristol City (Free)

Florian Jozefzoon – Rotherham (Loan)

Henrich Ravas – Hartlepool (Loan)

Jack Marriott – Sheffield Wednesday (Loan)

Scott Malone – Millwall (Loan)

Mason Bennett – Millwall (Undisclosed)

Jonathan Mitchell – Northampton (Loan)

Ikechi Anya – released

Tom Huddlestone - released 

Formation / System 

Having started the season with a 4231 and three straight defeats, a change to 541 brought former-manager Cocu his only win (against Norwich).  However, defeat in the next match (Watford) brought various tweaks to 3412 and 343 and even back to 4231 as results continued to disappoint.  We will need to wait and see how the new management quadruplet set Derby up.  In his last game in charge Cocu started with a 343.  

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Pic 3 - Derby start with a 343 versus Barnsley [Wyscout]

By half-time the back three had been dispensed with as Derby switched to 433.

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Pic 4 - Derby change from 343 to 433 for the second half

Matt Clarke (16) was withdrawn at the interval, replaced by Jozwiak (7) and Rooney (32) was moved back into midfield.  Sibley (17) entered the game but played in a much deeper role than normal.  Lawrence (10) was subbed off for Kazim-Richards (13).  Over the season we have seen several changes between a back three and a back four not just between games but in-game also.  Shades of Lee Johnson last season perhaps and little consistency as a result?

How do they play:

Under a cultured footballer like Cocu it was hardly surprising to see that there was an emphasis on trying to play good football from the back.  When playing a back three the side centre-backs would split to create passing options and the opposition forwards would have large distances to cover. Add in attack minded wingbacks like Nathan Byrne and Lee Buchanan and you get the picture.  When the ball is moved quickly then the initial press can be beaten.  We saw earlier this season how Bentley and Mawson’s high tempo and accurate distribution got City on the front foot in possession.

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Pic 5 - Derby's centre-backs split wide versus Barnsley

This has been a key part of Derby’s build-up, especially with ball-playing Clarke on the left-side.  However on this occasion David Marshall under hits the pass and Chaplin (Barnsley) anticipates, intercepts and shoots past the keeper to put Derby behind.  This may have also been a result of Bielik (the intended recipient) being rusty having been out injured long-term.  If Derby are sloppy there will be opportunities for City to thwart Derby’s build-up with a well-triggered press.

Without the ball Derby are one of the few sides in the Championship who don’t apply much of a press on the opposition build-up.

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Pic 6 - Derby allow lots of passes [Wyscout]

The above chart (courtesy of Derby Twitter Analyst @11pts1win) shows that Derby allow more passes per defensive action (PPDA – before a defensive duel, tackle, interception or foul) than most teams.  We can therefore expect to see Derby happily sit passively behind the ball and allow their opponents to play in-front of them.  City themselves aren’t a heavy pressing team either so perhaps we will see both teams enjoy spells of possession.  That’s fine until the opposition play passes through them!

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Pic 7 - no pressure on the passer versus Cardiff

In the example above we see Marlon Pack (Cardiff) under no pressure, and he can therefore pick a pass between the lines.  Derby have plenty of players behind the ball but none of them are marking or tracking runs.  One pass through a sloppy midfield and Cardiff are in a threatening position.

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Pic 8 - Plenty of defenders but Cardiff's Moore still scores

As the move develops, we can see Lawrence (10) hasn’t moved and just watches the action behind him.  But we can also see five Derby defenders up against two Cardiff strikers and Ojo who is advancing with the ball.  In fairness we saw similar traits in City’s backline against Norwich / Pukki and to a lesser extent against Huddersfield.  We will however have to wait and see if Derby play with more defensive intensity under the new regime.

How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney?

As wonderful a player Wayne Rooney has been over the years, are we starting to see the wane of Wayne?  There seemed to be a desire from Cocu to accommodate him in the team no matter what, and the team shuffled around as a result.  It is pretty clear that Rooney no longer has the legs to play in the same way that made him one of the best players in Europe, but we see in last season’s fixture at Ashton Gate how he can make the Rams tick from a deeper midfield role.  His partnership with Max Bird that night was very good.  They worked well together to move the ball quickly through the centre of the pitch to create overloads on the wings.

We’ve already seen above that Rooney went from centre-forward to a deep-midfield position versus Barnsley (see pic 4).  In the previous match against QPR we saw more changes.

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Pic 9 - Rooney versus QPR

In this match, Rooney (highlighted) starts as one of the three attacking midfielders with Jozwiak and Lawrence outside him.  Cocu moves to a 442 early in the game and Rooney switches to centre-forward alongside Waghorn, then another Cocu tactical change leaves Rooney up-top on his own as Waghorn is moved into a wide-forward role.

This wasn’t the only example!

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Pic 10 - Rooney on the move again versus Bournemouth

In the previous match to QPR, Rooney starts as the left-forward in a three with Lawrence and Waghorn, but then switches to the ‘number 10’ role for the second half. I would suggest the constant tinkering of shape, system and personnel is not helping Derby nor Rooney who has just one goal this season, a free kick versus Norwich.  Last season he scored 6 goals, assisted 4 more and was generally a significant contributor to the way they played.  Watching Rooney playing up front on his own and being asked to run the channels one minute, then play in the hole the next, does not appear to be the best use of a player that can still pick a pass and dictate the play.

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Pic 11 - Rooney drops deep versus Barnsley

In the above example we see Rooney drop into a much more effective deeper position where he can use his vision to spring Derby’s forwards with good movement.  Lawrence is the beneficiary as he runs off of the shoulder of Helik (the scorer against City at Oakwell) to shoot against the keeper’s legs.

Will Rooney pick himself and what position will be play?

Plenty of possession but no penetration: 

Derby have scored just 5 goals in 11 games and from an outsider looking in you might question why Derby allowed a goalscorer like Jack Marriott to go to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.  However, if you look at Marriott’s recent goals record (2 in 32 last season), albeit with many appearances from the bench you perhaps realise that it’s not his goals that are missing factor this time around.

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In the last two games (Barnsley left, QPR right – courtesy of Twitter’s @DymondFormation) we can see that there is very little threat in and around the box.  If you then overlay the fact that Derby made almost 1200 passes across both games (712 and 486), its beginning to look like Derby have a real problem getting into the opposition penalty area.  The league average is 361 passes per 90 match (Data from Wyscout) so Derby are making a considerable amount of passes but too many are between goalkeeper and defence and lacking purpose.  

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In the chart above (thanks to @SwansAnalytics for his timely tweet!) we can see that Derby make the most passes per possession, hence why they are on the far right of the x-axis.  But their average forward pass distance is the lowest in the Championship, bottom of the y-axis.  This alone isn’t a bad thing, as we can see the likes of Norwich and Brentford with similar profiles.  Couple this information with the heat maps above and it’s almost like Derby get a nosebleed when they approach the opposition’s final third.  City in comparison are bang in the centre of the chart, and when you link this with their ability to create chances inside the box (67% of City’s shots come from inside the penalty area, Derby just 52%) you start to build a picture.  Look a little deeper into the numbers and you’ll find that Derby have the worst xG in the Championship.  A firmer picture evolves!

Looking beyond the data, what has changed?

Perhaps a certain 32-year-old centre forward, you know the one who was their second top-scorer last season, the one that’s now leading our forward line – yes, assist-king Chris Martin.  I’ve long been an admirer of the ex-Scotland international’s game and despite his lack of pace, his ability to act as a chest-down target man is right up there in terms of the top Championship strikers.  His ability to link up with defenders when they’re under pressure and retain the ball is top drawer, but it’s when you can feed balls into him around the box that he comes into his own.  His strength and control give his teammates confidence to make runs off of him.  I think he’s been a big loss to Derby’s attack this season.  Below we will see two scenarios where Derby are missing Martin, firstly one where he supported his defence in possession and another where Derby’s midfield has strong territory.

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Pic 12 - Derby missing Martin's link-up play

Against Barnsley, Nathan Byrne (RWB) gets the ball from Bielik (RCB), but with Derby’s double-pivot of Shinnie and Knight not offering a pass inside, all Byrne can do is look forward.  In this situation last season, Martin would be dropping short and providing an option to link up.  He’d drag a centre-back with him if nothing else, and that would create space in the gap behind.

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Pic 13 - Derby's front three all run away from Byrne

However, Waghorn, Lawrence and Rooney have all made runs away from Byrne.  As it happens Byrne’s long pass is good and Waghorn retains possession.  Often this season possession has been turned over in similar circumstances, which then sees a huge gap created between Derby’s three units, and they get easily passed through.

In established phases of possession, the lack of a target like Martin together with muddled patterns of play make it easier to keep Derby at bay, forcing them to play in-front of the opposition defence.

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Pic 14 - Derby with no passing route into the forward line

Last season Rooney would be looking to feed the ball into Martin with the likes of Lawrence and Waghorn running off of him.  But we can see that there is a player blocking the pass into the frontman and therefore the build-up carries little threat and Barnsley force Derby sideways with good intensity on the ball.

To break through the constant side-to-side passing Derby have been reliant on pieces of individual skill from the likes of Lawrence and Jozwiak, so City will still need to be on their guard.

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Pic 15 - Byrne throws in towards Knight versus Barnsley

We can see in the above example that Knight is looking to let the ball run across his body so that he can open out possession to Derby’s left.  Barnsley and their hectic press lie in wait with four players ready to pounce as he turns towards the centre of the pitch.

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Pic 16 - Knight takes 4 "Pawns" out of the game

With a good close control and a bit of skill Knight evades Woodrow whilst sucking Barnsley’s two defensive midfielders towards him.  He slips the ball into Jozwiak who drives towards the penalty area before sliding in left wingback Buchanan, but unfortunately, he shoots into the near post side-netting.  But a simple example where one piece of clever play can unlock a congested area.  There’s not been enough of this type of play this season though.

Set-pieces: 

As mentioned earlier, Derby have only scored 5 goals in the Championship this season.  3 of those 5 have come from direct free-kicks just outside of the penalty area:

§  Rooney (Norwich)

§  Waghorn (Nottingham Forest)

§  Waghorn (Cardiff)

Another came from a charged down free-kick where Shinnie netted the rebound (Bournemouth) so it’s an area of the pitch that City can ill-afford to give away cheap fouls.  The good news is that City give away the second least number of fouls in the Championship.

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Pic 17 - City fouls versus Cardiff

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Pic 18 - City fouls versus Huddersfield

Even better news is that they rarely foul around the penalty area, just two all season.  Maybe there is one advantage of being a bit too nice!

In terms of attacking corners, there is nothing particularly creative / inventive with Derby’s corners, but with Rooney’s delivery they do carry a potential threat.

The Players / line-up:

Not an easy one to predict with a new management team in place, so here’s Derby’s options in a 4231.

GK: David Marshall (35) – experienced shot stopper who will be full of confidence after his penalty save against Serbia saw Scotland progress to the Euros.  Started at Celtic before a loan spell at Norwich was made permanent, then moves to Cardiff, Hull and Wigan.  Signed for Derby in the summer as part of Wigan’s dire financial situation.  He is backed up by Kelle Roos (28) – the Dutchman who has had numerous loan spells since signing for Derby in 2014.

RB: Nathan Byrne (28) – well-travelled wingback who started at Tottenham and enjoyed loan spells at Brentford and Swindon.  The Swindon loan was made permanent and he was a key player in Swindon’s promotion challenge in 2014/15 that ultimately fell short.  He did secure a £1.2m move to Wolves off of the back of it though, before moving to Wigan in 2016.  Followed Marshall to Derby in the summer.  Will be battling it out with Andre Wisdom (27) – the former Liverpool Academy graduate had a loan spell at Pride Park back in 2014 but took a diversion at West Brom, Norwich and RB Salzburg before signing permanently for £2m in 2017.

LB: Lee Buchanan (19) – came through the ranks at Derby and looks to have made the left back / wingback slot his own this season with the departure of Max Lowe.  Likes to get forward and create the overlap.    Providing back-up is Craig Forsyth (31) – the former Dundee man who joined Derby from Watford back in 2013.

CB: Curtis Davies (35) – vastly experienced centre-back who’s managed to get himself back in the team of late.  Had stints at West Brom, Aston Villa, Leicester (loan), Birmingham and Hull and several million in transfer fees to boot before signing for the Rams in 2017 for £500k.  It is possible the versatile Krystian Bielik (22) – may come back into side having recently returned from a long-term knee ligament injury.  The former Arsenal man is a full Polish international and made his Championship comeback against Barnsley last time out.

CB: Matt Clarke (24) – on loan from Brighton for the second season running and perhaps the result of Adam Webster haunting him again having been at Ipswich and Portsmouth too.  Plays on the left side and more than capable on the ball.  Another option is Mike te Wierik (28) – who signed on a free transfer from Groningen in the summer, but he’s been in and out of the side since his red card on his league debut.

CM: Jason Knight (19) – just been called up to the full Ireland side having started every league match this season.  Started at Irish side Cabinteely before signing for the Rams in 2017.  His versatility is making him a regular and he’s already close to 50 Derby appearances.  George Evans (25) – is a possibility although he’s had more minutes in the back three this season.  Started at Manchester City before moving on a free to Reading in 2016.  This is his third season at Pride Park.

CM: Graeme Shinnie (29) – former Inverness player who was heavily linked with City whilst at Aberdeen before making the move South to Derby last summer on a free.  Provides some grit in the midfield and is a full Scottish international.  Battling it out for a place is Max Bird (20) – another player to come through the ranks.  Not been in the starting line-up of late but got plenty of ability.

RAM: Kamil Jozwiak (22) – Polish international who signed in September from Lech Posnan for £3.8m.  Settled in pretty well and looks like he will be a good signing.  Jordan Ibe (24) – the former Liverpool and Bournemouth wideman has yet to feature this season.

CAM: Wayne Rooney (35) – former Everton, Manchester United and DC United player who needs little introduction. England’s record scorer with 53 goals and now caretaker coach.  We will see whether he picks himself otherwise Duane Holmes (26) – the US born; versatile attacking midfielder may get a start.  The former Huddersfield man moved to Derby for £700k in August 2018.

LAM: Tom Lawrence (26) – started at Manchester United before moving to Leicester for £1.1m in 2014.  A succession of loans followed at Rotherham, Blackburn, Cardiff and Ipswich before he moved to Derby for £5m in 2017.  Exciting dribbler with an eye for a goal, he now has 20 Welsh caps.  My DANGERMAN!

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Pic 19 - Tom Lawrence my man to watch on Saturday

CF: Martyn Waghorn (30) – experienced striker who can play anywhere along the forward line.  Started at Sunderland before a series of loan and permanent deals at Charlton, Leicester (£3.2m), Hull, Millwall, Wigan and Rangers (£1m) saw him arrive at Derby in 2018 for £5m.  Over 100 career goals and an aggressive player who is happy to leave his mark on his opponent.  Louis Sibley (19) – might get a start, but he’s been goal-shy this season having burst onto the scene last season with a hat-trick against Millwall.  He can also play behind the frontman.  Further competition is provided by Colin Kazim-Richards (34) – signed on a free last month as the window shut.

Prediction (pre-Press Conference):

Although the form of both sides will be negated by a two-week break, Derby’s managerial change and City’s Covid cases meaning a restricted preparation, I still see City doing enough to gain the win.  

Bristol City 2:1 Derby County

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Yeah, I mean, all this is great, but will there be a stream? 😎 😂

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49 minutes ago, Davefevs said:

Derby County – Sat 21st November 15:00 – What Can We Expect?

I’ve spent much of the international break wondering whether Derby’s poor start to the season and the progression of the recent takeover might result in a change of manager and make this review less relevant.  Well on Saturday evening I got my answer with Phillip Cocu and his coaching staff losing their jobs.

The Rams have made an awful start to the season, registering just one win and three draws in eleven games and find themselves in bottom place with just 6 points.  That’s behind Sheffield Wednesday who gave them a six-point head start (reduced from twelve).  They are only two points behind Coventry in the place above the relegation zone but are on a 7-game winless run.  All is not rosy at Pride Park and the expectation was that Derby would be amongst the early season pacesetters.

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Pic 1 - Championship Table ahead of this weekend's fixtures [BBC Sport]

Who’s the boss:

With Cocu leaving on Saturday evening, Derby have put Wayne Rooney, ex-Ireland keeper Shay Given, ex-City player Liam Rosenior and Development Coach Justin Walker in temporary charge.  Rooney and Rosenior have been given responsibility for selecting the team for this fixture.

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Pic 2 – successfully hedging my bets on who might be in-charge?  Former manager Phillip Cocu with Wayne Rooney

Recruitment:

There definitely seems to have been a real change of tack in transfers over the summer – moving away from past season’s excesses (in an attempt to gain promotion) towards compliance under Profitability and Sustainability (S&P / FFP) rules.  Couple that with less income due to Covid, Mel Morris no longer having assets to sell (Pride Park), their accounting methods coming under scrutiny by the EFL and we see Derby having to play by the same rules as everyone else.  This has meant most Championship clubs have to sell to survive.  In Derby’s case we’ve also seen Mel Morris sell the club to Abu Dhabi investors (yet to be finalised) and summer recruitment reflecting the ‘new norm’ rather than Mel’s way of doing things.  

We also see Derby finding it hard to retain their exciting youngsters, whilst not getting full value for them as they attempt to balance the books.  Add in out of contract players like Chris Martin only being offered a one-year (plus one) deal and club’s like ourselves can snatch them by offering more attractive deals. 

Players in: 

Kamil Jozwiak – Lech Posnan (£3.8m)

Emmanuel Idem – Canvey Island (Free)

Mike te Wierik – FC Groningen (Free)

Nathan Byrne – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Matt Clarke – Brighton (Loan – 2nd season)

David Marshall – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Jordan Ibe – out of contract

Colin Kazim-Richards – out of contract

Players out: 

Jayden Bogle – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Max Lowe – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Chris Martin – Bristol City (Free)

Florian Jozefzoon – Rotherham (Loan)

Henrich Ravas – Hartlepool (Loan)

Jack Marriott – Sheffield Wednesday (Loan)

Scott Malone – Millwall (Loan)

Mason Bennett – Millwall (Undisclosed)

Jonathan Mitchell – Northampton (Loan)

Ikechi Anya – released

Tom Huddlestone - released 

Formation / System 

Having started the season with a 4231 and three straight defeats, a change to 541 brought former-manager Cocu his only win (against Norwich).  However, defeat in the next match (Watford) brought various tweaks to 3412 and 343 and even back to 4231 as results continued to disappoint.  We will need to wait and see how the new management quadruplet set Derby up.  In his last game in charge Cocu started with a 343.  

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Pic 3 - Derby start with a 343 versus Barnsley [Wyscout]

By half-time the back three had been dispensed with as Derby switched to 433.

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Pic 4 - Derby change from 343 to 433 for the second half

Matt Clarke (16) was withdrawn at the interval, replaced by Jozwiak (7) and Rooney (32) was moved back into midfield.  Sibley (17) entered the game but played in a much deeper role than normal.  Lawrence (10) was subbed off for Kazim-Richards (13).  Over the season we have seen several changes between a back three and a back four not just between games but in-game also.  Shades of Lee Johnson last season perhaps and little consistency as a result?

How do they play:

Under a cultured footballer like Cocu it was hardly surprising to see that there was an emphasis on trying to play good football from the back.  When playing a back three the side centre-backs would split to create passing options and the opposition forwards would have large distances to cover. Add in attack minded wingbacks like Nathan Byrne and Lee Buchanan and you get the picture.  When the ball is moved quickly then the initial press can be beaten.  We saw earlier this season how Bentley and Mawson’s high tempo and accurate distribution got City on the front foot in possession.

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Pic 5 - Derby's centre-backs split wide versus Barnsley

This has been a key part of Derby’s build-up, especially with ball-playing Clarke on the left-side.  However on this occasion David Marshall under hits the pass and Chaplin (Barnsley) anticipates, intercepts and shoots past the keeper to put Derby behind.  This may have also been a result of Bielik (the intended recipient) being rusty having been out injured long-term.  If Derby are sloppy there will be opportunities for City to thwart Derby’s build-up with a well-triggered press.

Without the ball Derby are one of the few sides in the Championship who don’t apply much of a press on the opposition build-up.

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Pic 6 - Derby allow lots of passes [Wyscout]

The above chart (courtesy of Derby Twitter Analyst @11pts1win) shows that Derby allow more passes per defensive action (PPDA – before a defensive duel, tackle, interception or foul) than most teams.  We can therefore expect to see Derby happily sit passively behind the ball and allow their opponents to play in-front of them.  City themselves aren’t a heavy pressing team either so perhaps we will see both teams enjoy spells of possession.  That’s fine until the opposition play passes through them!

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Pic 7 - no pressure on the passer versus Cardiff

In the example above we see Marlon Pack (Cardiff) under no pressure, and he can therefore pick a pass between the lines.  Derby have plenty of players behind the ball but none of them are marking or tracking runs.  One pass through a sloppy midfield and Cardiff are in a threatening position.

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Pic 8 - Plenty of defenders but Cardiff's Moore still scores

As the move develops, we can see Lawrence (10) hasn’t moved and just watches the action behind him.  But we can also see five Derby defenders up against two Cardiff strikers and Ojo who is advancing with the ball.  In fairness we saw similar traits in City’s backline against Norwich / Pukki and to a lesser extent against Huddersfield.  We will however have to wait and see if Derby play with more defensive intensity under the new regime.

How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney?

As wonderful a player Wayne Rooney has been over the years, are we starting to see the wane of Wayne?  There seemed to be a desire from Cocu to accommodate him in the team no matter what, and the team shuffled around as a result.  It is pretty clear that Rooney no longer has the legs to play in the same way that made him one of the best players in Europe, but we see in last season’s fixture at Ashton Gate how he can make the Rams tick from a deeper midfield role.  His partnership with Max Bird that night was very good.  They worked well together to move the ball quickly through the centre of the pitch to create overloads on the wings.

We’ve already seen above that Rooney went from centre-forward to a deep-midfield position versus Barnsley (see pic 4).  In the previous match against QPR we saw more changes.

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Pic 9 - Rooney versus QPR

In this match, Rooney (highlighted) starts as one of the three attacking midfielders with Jozwiak and Lawrence outside him.  Cocu moves to a 442 early in the game and Rooney switches to centre-forward alongside Waghorn, then another Cocu tactical change leaves Rooney up-top on his own as Waghorn is moved into a wide-forward role.

This wasn’t the only example!

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Pic 10 - Rooney on the move again versus Bournemouth

In the previous match to QPR, Rooney starts as the left-forward in a three with Lawrence and Waghorn, but then switches to the ‘number 10’ role for the second half. I would suggest the constant tinkering of shape, system and personnel is not helping Derby nor Rooney who has just one goal this season, a free kick versus Norwich.  Last season he scored 6 goals, assisted 4 more and was generally a significant contributor to the way they played.  Watching Rooney playing up front on his own and being asked to run the channels one minute, then play in the hole the next, does not appear to be the best use of a player that can still pick a pass and dictate the play.

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Pic 11 - Rooney drops deep versus Barnsley

In the above example we see Rooney drop into a much more effective deeper position where he can use his vision to spring Derby’s forwards with good movement.  Lawrence is the beneficiary as he runs off of the shoulder of Helik (the scorer against City at Oakwell) to shoot against the keeper’s legs.

Will Rooney pick himself and what position will be play?

Plenty of possession but no penetration: 

Derby have scored just 5 goals in 11 games and from an outsider looking in you might question why Derby allowed a goalscorer like Jack Marriott to go to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.  However, if you look at Marriott’s recent goals record (2 in 32 last season), albeit with many appearances from the bench you perhaps realise that it’s not his goals that are missing factor this time around.

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In the last two games (Barnsley left, QPR right – courtesy of Twitter’s @DymondFormation) we can see that there is very little threat in and around the box.  If you then overlay the fact that Derby made almost 1200 passes across both games (712 and 486), its beginning to look like Derby have a real problem getting into the opposition penalty area.  The league average is 361 passes per 90 match (Data from Wyscout) so Derby are making a considerable amount of passes but too many are between goalkeeper and defence and lacking purpose.  

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In the chart above (thanks to @SwansAnalytics for his timely tweet!) we can see that Derby make the most passes per possession, hence why they are on the far right of the x-axis.  But their average forward pass distance is the lowest in the Championship, bottom of the y-axis.  This alone isn’t a bad thing, as we can see the likes of Norwich and Brentford with similar profiles.  Couple this information with the heat maps above and it’s almost like Derby get a nosebleed when they approach the opposition’s final third.  City in comparison are bang in the centre of the chart, and when you link this with their ability to create chances inside the box (67% of City’s shots come from inside the penalty area, Derby just 52%) you start to build a picture.  Look a little deeper into the numbers and you’ll find that Derby have the worst xG in the Championship.  A firmer picture evolves!

Looking beyond the data, what has changed?

Perhaps a certain 32-year-old centre forward, you know the one who was their second top-scorer last season, the one that’s now leading our forward line – yes, assist-king Chris Martin.  I’ve long been an admirer of the ex-Scotland international’s game and despite his lack of pace, his ability to act as a chest-down target man is right up there in terms of the top Championship strikers.  His ability to link up with defenders when they’re under pressure and retain the ball is top drawer, but it’s when you can feed balls into him around the box that he comes into his own.  His strength and control give his teammates confidence to make runs off of him.  I think he’s been a big loss to Derby’s attack this season.  Below we will see two scenarios where Derby are missing Martin, firstly one where he supported his defence in possession and another where Derby’s midfield has strong territory.

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Pic 12 - Derby missing Martin's link-up play

Against Barnsley, Nathan Byrne (RWB) gets the ball from Bielik (RCB), but with Derby’s double-pivot of Shinnie and Knight not offering a pass inside, all Byrne can do is look forward.  In this situation last season, Martin would be dropping short and providing an option to link up.  He’d drag a centre-back with him if nothing else, and that would create space in the gap behind.

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Pic 13 - Derby's front three all run away from Byrne

However, Waghorn, Lawrence and Rooney have all made runs away from Byrne.  As it happens Byrne’s long pass is good and Waghorn retains possession.  Often this season possession has been turned over in similar circumstances, which then sees a huge gap created between Derby’s three units, and they get easily passed through.

In established phases of possession, the lack of a target like Martin together with muddled patterns of play make it easier to keep Derby at bay, forcing them to play in-front of the opposition defence.

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Pic 14 - Derby with no passing route into the forward line

Last season Rooney would be looking to feed the ball into Martin with the likes of Lawrence and Waghorn running off of him.  But we can see that there is a player blocking the pass into the frontman and therefore the build-up carries little threat and Barnsley force Derby sideways with good intensity on the ball.

To break through the constant side-to-side passing Derby have been reliant on pieces of individual skill from the likes of Lawrence and Jozwiak, so City will still need to be on their guard.

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Pic 15 - Byrne throws in towards Knight versus Barnsley

We can see in the above example that Knight is looking to let the ball run across his body so that he can open out possession to Derby’s left.  Barnsley and their hectic press lie in wait with four players ready to pounce as he turns towards the centre of the pitch.

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Pic 16 - Knight takes 4 "Pawns" out of the game

With a good close control and a bit of skill Knight evades Woodrow whilst sucking Barnsley’s two defensive midfielders towards him.  He slips the ball into Jozwiak who drives towards the penalty area before sliding in left wingback Buchanan, but unfortunately, he shoots into the near post side-netting.  But a simple example where one piece of clever play can unlock a congested area.  There’s not been enough of this type of play this season though.

Set-pieces: 

As mentioned earlier, Derby have only scored 5 goals in the Championship this season.  3 of those 5 have come from direct free-kicks just outside of the penalty area:

§  Rooney (Norwich)

§  Waghorn (Nottingham Forest)

§  Waghorn (Cardiff)

Another came from a charged down free-kick where Shinnie netted the rebound (Bournemouth) so it’s an area of the pitch that City can ill-afford to give away cheap fouls.  The good news is that City give away the second least number of fouls in the Championship.

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Pic 17 - City fouls versus Cardiff

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Pic 18 - City fouls versus Huddersfield

Even better news is that they rarely foul around the penalty area, just two all season.  Maybe there is one advantage of being a bit too nice!

In terms of attacking corners, there is nothing particularly creative / inventive with Derby’s corners, but with Rooney’s delivery they do carry a potential threat.

The Players / line-up:

Not an easy one to predict with a new management team in place, so here’s Derby’s options in a 4231.

GK: David Marshall (35) – experienced shot stopper who will be full of confidence after his penalty save against Serbia saw Scotland progress to the Euros.  Started at Celtic before a loan spell at Norwich was made permanent, then moves to Cardiff, Hull and Wigan.  Signed for Derby in the summer as part of Wigan’s dire financial situation.  He is backed up by Kelle Roos (28) – the Dutchman who has had numerous loan spells since signing for Derby in 2014.

RB: Nathan Byrne (28) – well-travelled wingback who started at Tottenham and enjoyed loan spells at Brentford and Swindon.  The Swindon loan was made permanent and he was a key player in Swindon’s promotion challenge in 2014/15 that ultimately fell short.  He did secure a £1.2m move to Wolves off of the back of it though, before moving to Wigan in 2016.  Followed Marshall to Derby in the summer.  Will be battling it out with Andre Wisdom (27) – the former Liverpool Academy graduate had a loan spell at Pride Park back in 2014 but took a diversion at West Brom, Norwich and RB Salzburg before signing permanently for £2m in 2017.

LB: Lee Buchanan (19) – came through the ranks at Derby and looks to have made the left back / wingback slot his own this season with the departure of Max Lowe.  Likes to get forward and create the overlap.    Providing back-up is Craig Forsyth (31) – the former Dundee man who joined Derby from Watford back in 2013.

CB: Curtis Davies (35) – vastly experienced centre-back who’s managed to get himself back in the team of late.  Had stints at West Brom, Aston Villa, Leicester (loan), Birmingham and Hull and several million in transfer fees to boot before signing for the Rams in 2017 for £500k.  It is possible the versatile Krystian Bielik (22) – may come back into side having recently returned from a long-term knee ligament injury.  The former Arsenal man is a full Polish international and made his Championship comeback against Barnsley last time out.

CB: Matt Clarke (24) – on loan from Brighton for the second season running and perhaps the result of Adam Webster haunting him again having been at Ipswich and Portsmouth too.  Plays on the left side and more than capable on the ball.  Another option is Mike te Wierik (28) – who signed on a free transfer from Groningen in the summer, but he’s been in and out of the side since his red card on his league debut.

CM: Jason Knight (19) – just been called up to the full Ireland side having started every league match this season.  Started at Irish side Cabinteely before signing for the Rams in 2017.  His versatility is making him a regular and he’s already close to 50 Derby appearances.  George Evans (25) – is a possibility although he’s had more minutes in the back three this season.  Started at Manchester City before moving on a free to Reading in 2016.  This is his third season at Pride Park.

CM: Graeme Shinnie (29) – former Inverness player who was heavily linked with City whilst at Aberdeen before making the move South to Derby last summer on a free.  Provides some grit in the midfield and is a full Scottish international.  Battling it out for a place is Max Bird (20) – another player to come through the ranks.  Not been in the starting line-up of late but got plenty of ability.

RAM: Kamil Jozwiak (22) – Polish international who signed in September from Lech Posnan for £3.8m.  Settled in pretty well and looks like he will be a good signing.  Jordan Ibe (24) – the former Liverpool and Bournemouth wideman has yet to feature this season.

CAM: Wayne Rooney (35) – former Everton, Manchester United and DC United player who needs little introduction. England’s record scorer with 53 goals and now caretaker coach.  We will see whether he picks himself otherwise Duane Holmes (26) – the US born; versatile attacking midfielder may get a start.  The former Huddersfield man moved to Derby for £700k in August 2018.

LAM: Tom Lawrence (26) – started at Manchester United before moving to Leicester for £1.1m in 2014.  A succession of loans followed at Rotherham, Blackburn, Cardiff and Ipswich before he moved to Derby for £5m in 2017.  Exciting dribbler with an eye for a goal, he now has 20 Welsh caps.  My DANGERMAN!

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Pic 19 - Tom Lawrence my man to watch on Saturday

CF: Martyn Waghorn (30) – experienced striker who can play anywhere along the forward line.  Started at Sunderland before a series of loan and permanent deals at Charlton, Leicester (£3.2m), Hull, Millwall, Wigan and Rangers (£1m) saw him arrive at Derby in 2018 for £5m.  Over 100 career goals and an aggressive player who is happy to leave his mark on his opponent.  Louis Sibley (19) – might get a start, but he’s been goal-shy this season having burst onto the scene last season with a hat-trick against Millwall.  He can also play behind the frontman.  Further competition is provided by Colin Kazim-Richards (34) – signed on a free last month as the window shut.

Prediction (pre-Press Conference):

Although the form of both sides will be negated by a two-week break, Derby’s managerial change and City’s Covid cases meaning a restricted preparation, I still see City doing enough to gain the win.  

Bristol City 2:1 Derby County

 

Though I know what to expect @Davefevs  the posts never fail to amaze me 😂

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Just now, 054123 said:

Though I know what to expect @Davefevs  the posts never fail to amaze me 😂

Be keen to know what anyone expects, my stuff is just my view.  This one was quite tough to write.  Usually you have enough goals / chances in the video review to pull out themes, but Derby have been so poor in that regard this season.  Couple that with a manager change and it’s like being blindfolded.  The Chris Martin angle was handy though.

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Pretty obvious looking at their squad that Cocu underperformed, they may not be as good as they think they are, but they should still be doing far better.

Always worry about playing a side the game after they have sacked someone & when you add in the fortnight we have had since playing tomorrow will be extra tough.

On that note Gregor has just reported one player has tested positive now & 1 staff member, so hopefully the disruption will be relatively minimal.

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17 minutes ago, BigAl&Toby said:

Christ Dave. You must have a lot of time on your hands 😂

Nothing like an analytical view from an analyst!

You still galloping along the waterfront on the old Black Horse? 😃

I did have a lot of time on my hands.  7 months off!  But having left Lloyds over 4 years ago I started back 2 weeks ago.  Hence I’m only going to do detailed previews of weekend games from this point onwards.  I’ll still do a scaled back preview for Watford, but likely to be just formation and style stuff.

11 minutes ago, RoystonFoote'snephew said:

Another excellent analysis Dave but I guess the new coaching team at Derby may spring a surprise with their approach. Boro certainly did, to the extent where I wondered if Colin had someone look at our forum. If I was Rosenior I would take note. 

Boro played pretty much how I expected them to.

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Brilliant as always @Davefevs.

One thing I like and will hold onto as promising, they don't press well. We seem to look better with time and space so hope that proves to be right. I'm also hoping that as they are in temporary charge, and having 2 voices trying to improve things that they don't get that 'new manager' bounce. Problem is, do we know what sort of side woe will put out? Players due to return from injury, but may now as they have been expected for months. COVID running through the squad is down to a rumoured one player and one member of staff , not sure who though.  That team sheet will be more interesting, potentially more exciting OR more disappointing than any in the last few years. Strange times indeed.

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couple of things

1) it will be 3-1 (heart not head)

2) hope you are saving all this analysis. Publish it in a book for future city fans

3) any profits 50% for yourself 25% for charity spend the rest on fast women and loose cars.

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7 minutes ago, reddoh said:

couple of things

1) it will be 3-1 (heart not head)

2) hope you are saving all this analysis. Publish it in a book for future city fans

3) any profits 50% for yourself 25% for charity spend the rest on fast women and loose cars.

Damn, so close!

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I love the phrase “wane of Wayne” and I’m hoping it will be true tomorrow. With the added pressures of being interim manager he made be concentrating on how other players are performing, tactics, substitutions etc rather than concentrating on his own game. A player manager role is difficult to perform. 

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48 minutes ago, 1960maaan said:

Brilliant as always @Davefevs.

One thing I like and will hold onto as promising, they don't press well. We seem to look better with time and space so hope that proves to be right. I'm also hoping that as they are in temporary charge, and having 2 voices trying to improve things that they don't get that 'new manager' bounce. Problem is, do we know what sort of side woe will put out? Players due to return from injury, but may now as they have been expected for months. COVID running through the squad is down to a rumoured one player and one member of staff , not sure who though.  That team sheet will be more interesting, potentially more exciting OR more disappointing than any in the last few years. Strange times indeed.

Thanks.  The thing I didn’t really focus on was that they aren’t really a physical team either.  Waghorn is sly and dirty but they aren’t a team that ought to bully us.  Norwich, for all their lovely triangles can mix it too.  

45 minutes ago, reddoh said:

couple of things

1) it will be 3-1 (heart not head)

2) hope you are saving all this analysis. Publish it in a book for future city fans

3) any profits 50% for yourself 25% for charity spend the rest on fast women and loose cars.

2) I do save them.  
3) 🤣🤣🤣

10 minutes ago, pongo88 said:

I love the phrase “wane of Wayne” and I’m hoping it will be true tomorrow. With the added pressures of being interim manager he made be concentrating on how other players are performing, tactics, substitutions etc rather than concentrating on his own game. A player manager role is difficult to perform. 

Haha, yes, that was gonna be the title of that section, but I thought it would be better semi-hidden.

If you listen to OSIB post-Derby see if you can spot some subtle messages hidden in the Watford preview. 

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4 hours ago, Davefevs said:

Derby County – Sat 21st November 15:00 – What Can We Expect?

I’ve spent much of the international break wondering whether Derby’s poor start to the season and the progression of the recent takeover might result in a change of manager and make this review less relevant.  Well on Saturday evening I got my answer with Phillip Cocu and his coaching staff losing their jobs.

The Rams have made an awful start to the season, registering just one win and three draws in eleven games and find themselves in bottom place with just 6 points.  That’s behind Sheffield Wednesday who gave them a six-point head start (reduced from twelve).  They are only two points behind Coventry in the place above the relegation zone but are on a 7-game winless run.  All is not rosy at Pride Park and the expectation was that Derby would be amongst the early season pacesetters.

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Pic 1 - Championship Table ahead of this weekend's fixtures [BBC Sport]

Who’s the boss:

With Cocu leaving on Saturday evening, Derby have put Wayne Rooney, ex-Ireland keeper Shay Given, ex-City player Liam Rosenior and Development Coach Justin Walker in temporary charge.  Rooney and Rosenior have been given responsibility for selecting the team for this fixture.

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Pic 2 – successfully hedging my bets on who might be in-charge?  Former manager Phillip Cocu with Wayne Rooney

Recruitment:

There definitely seems to have been a real change of tack in transfers over the summer – moving away from past season’s excesses (in an attempt to gain promotion) towards compliance under Profitability and Sustainability (S&P / FFP) rules.  Couple that with less income due to Covid, Mel Morris no longer having assets to sell (Pride Park), their accounting methods coming under scrutiny by the EFL and we see Derby having to play by the same rules as everyone else.  This has meant most Championship clubs have to sell to survive.  In Derby’s case we’ve also seen Mel Morris sell the club to Abu Dhabi investors (yet to be finalised) and summer recruitment reflecting the ‘new norm’ rather than Mel’s way of doing things.  

We also see Derby finding it hard to retain their exciting youngsters, whilst not getting full value for them as they attempt to balance the books.  Add in out of contract players like Chris Martin only being offered a one-year (plus one) deal and club’s like ourselves can snatch them by offering more attractive deals. 

Players in: 

Kamil Jozwiak – Lech Posnan (£3.8m)

Emmanuel Idem – Canvey Island (Free)

Mike te Wierik – FC Groningen (Free)

Nathan Byrne – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Matt Clarke – Brighton (Loan – 2nd season)

David Marshall – Wigan (Undisclosed)

Jordan Ibe – out of contract

Colin Kazim-Richards – out of contract

Players out: 

Jayden Bogle – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Max Lowe – Sheffield United (£3.5m)

Chris Martin – Bristol City (Free)

Florian Jozefzoon – Rotherham (Loan)

Henrich Ravas – Hartlepool (Loan)

Jack Marriott – Sheffield Wednesday (Loan)

Scott Malone – Millwall (Loan)

Mason Bennett – Millwall (Undisclosed)

Jonathan Mitchell – Northampton (Loan)

Ikechi Anya – released

Tom Huddlestone - released 

Formation / System 

Having started the season with a 4231 and three straight defeats, a change to 541 brought former-manager Cocu his only win (against Norwich).  However, defeat in the next match (Watford) brought various tweaks to 3412 and 343 and even back to 4231 as results continued to disappoint.  We will need to wait and see how the new management quadruplet set Derby up.  In his last game in charge Cocu started with a 343.  

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Pic 3 - Derby start with a 343 versus Barnsley [Wyscout]

By half-time the back three had been dispensed with as Derby switched to 433.

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Pic 4 - Derby change from 343 to 433 for the second half

Matt Clarke (16) was withdrawn at the interval, replaced by Jozwiak (7) and Rooney (32) was moved back into midfield.  Sibley (17) entered the game but played in a much deeper role than normal.  Lawrence (10) was subbed off for Kazim-Richards (13).  Over the season we have seen several changes between a back three and a back four not just between games but in-game also.  Shades of Lee Johnson last season perhaps and little consistency as a result?

How do they play:

Under a cultured footballer like Cocu it was hardly surprising to see that there was an emphasis on trying to play good football from the back.  When playing a back three the side centre-backs would split to create passing options and the opposition forwards would have large distances to cover. Add in attack minded wingbacks like Nathan Byrne and Lee Buchanan and you get the picture.  When the ball is moved quickly then the initial press can be beaten.  We saw earlier this season how Bentley and Mawson’s high tempo and accurate distribution got City on the front foot in possession.

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Pic 5 - Derby's centre-backs split wide versus Barnsley

This has been a key part of Derby’s build-up, especially with ball-playing Clarke on the left-side.  However on this occasion David Marshall under hits the pass and Chaplin (Barnsley) anticipates, intercepts and shoots past the keeper to put Derby behind.  This may have also been a result of Bielik (the intended recipient) being rusty having been out injured long-term.  If Derby are sloppy there will be opportunities for City to thwart Derby’s build-up with a well-triggered press.

Without the ball Derby are one of the few sides in the Championship who don’t apply much of a press on the opposition build-up.

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Pic 6 - Derby allow lots of passes [Wyscout]

The above chart (courtesy of Derby Twitter Analyst @11pts1win) shows that Derby allow more passes per defensive action (PPDA – before a defensive duel, tackle, interception or foul) than most teams.  We can therefore expect to see Derby happily sit passively behind the ball and allow their opponents to play in-front of them.  City themselves aren’t a heavy pressing team either so perhaps we will see both teams enjoy spells of possession.  That’s fine until the opposition play passes through them!

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Pic 7 - no pressure on the passer versus Cardiff

In the example above we see Marlon Pack (Cardiff) under no pressure, and he can therefore pick a pass between the lines.  Derby have plenty of players behind the ball but none of them are marking or tracking runs.  One pass through a sloppy midfield and Cardiff are in a threatening position.

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Pic 8 - Plenty of defenders but Cardiff's Moore still scores

As the move develops, we can see Lawrence (10) hasn’t moved and just watches the action behind him.  But we can also see five Derby defenders up against two Cardiff strikers and Ojo who is advancing with the ball.  In fairness we saw similar traits in City’s backline against Norwich / Pukki and to a lesser extent against Huddersfield.  We will however have to wait and see if Derby play with more defensive intensity under the new regime.

How do you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney?

As wonderful a player Wayne Rooney has been over the years, are we starting to see the wane of Wayne?  There seemed to be a desire from Cocu to accommodate him in the team no matter what, and the team shuffled around as a result.  It is pretty clear that Rooney no longer has the legs to play in the same way that made him one of the best players in Europe, but we see in last season’s fixture at Ashton Gate how he can make the Rams tick from a deeper midfield role.  His partnership with Max Bird that night was very good.  They worked well together to move the ball quickly through the centre of the pitch to create overloads on the wings.

We’ve already seen above that Rooney went from centre-forward to a deep-midfield position versus Barnsley (see pic 4).  In the previous match against QPR we saw more changes.

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Pic 9 - Rooney versus QPR

In this match, Rooney (highlighted) starts as one of the three attacking midfielders with Jozwiak and Lawrence outside him.  Cocu moves to a 442 early in the game and Rooney switches to centre-forward alongside Waghorn, then another Cocu tactical change leaves Rooney up-top on his own as Waghorn is moved into a wide-forward role.

This wasn’t the only example!

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Pic 10 - Rooney on the move again versus Bournemouth

In the previous match to QPR, Rooney starts as the left-forward in a three with Lawrence and Waghorn, but then switches to the ‘number 10’ role for the second half. I would suggest the constant tinkering of shape, system and personnel is not helping Derby nor Rooney who has just one goal this season, a free kick versus Norwich.  Last season he scored 6 goals, assisted 4 more and was generally a significant contributor to the way they played.  Watching Rooney playing up front on his own and being asked to run the channels one minute, then play in the hole the next, does not appear to be the best use of a player that can still pick a pass and dictate the play.

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Pic 11 - Rooney drops deep versus Barnsley

In the above example we see Rooney drop into a much more effective deeper position where he can use his vision to spring Derby’s forwards with good movement.  Lawrence is the beneficiary as he runs off of the shoulder of Helik (the scorer against City at Oakwell) to shoot against the keeper’s legs.

Will Rooney pick himself and what position will be play?

Plenty of possession but no penetration: 

Derby have scored just 5 goals in 11 games and from an outsider looking in you might question why Derby allowed a goalscorer like Jack Marriott to go to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.  However, if you look at Marriott’s recent goals record (2 in 32 last season), albeit with many appearances from the bench you perhaps realise that it’s not his goals that are missing factor this time around.

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In the last two games (Barnsley left, QPR right – courtesy of Twitter’s @DymondFormation) we can see that there is very little threat in and around the box.  If you then overlay the fact that Derby made almost 1200 passes across both games (712 and 486), its beginning to look like Derby have a real problem getting into the opposition penalty area.  The league average is 361 passes per 90 match (Data from Wyscout) so Derby are making a considerable amount of passes but too many are between goalkeeper and defence and lacking purpose.  

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In the chart above (thanks to @SwansAnalytics for his timely tweet!) we can see that Derby make the most passes per possession, hence why they are on the far right of the x-axis.  But their average forward pass distance is the lowest in the Championship, bottom of the y-axis.  This alone isn’t a bad thing, as we can see the likes of Norwich and Brentford with similar profiles.  Couple this information with the heat maps above and it’s almost like Derby get a nosebleed when they approach the opposition’s final third.  City in comparison are bang in the centre of the chart, and when you link this with their ability to create chances inside the box (67% of City’s shots come from inside the penalty area, Derby just 52%) you start to build a picture.  Look a little deeper into the numbers and you’ll find that Derby have the worst xG in the Championship.  A firmer picture evolves!

Looking beyond the data, what has changed?

Perhaps a certain 32-year-old centre forward, you know the one who was their second top-scorer last season, the one that’s now leading our forward line – yes, assist-king Chris Martin.  I’ve long been an admirer of the ex-Scotland international’s game and despite his lack of pace, his ability to act as a chest-down target man is right up there in terms of the top Championship strikers.  His ability to link up with defenders when they’re under pressure and retain the ball is top drawer, but it’s when you can feed balls into him around the box that he comes into his own.  His strength and control give his teammates confidence to make runs off of him.  I think he’s been a big loss to Derby’s attack this season.  Below we will see two scenarios where Derby are missing Martin, firstly one where he supported his defence in possession and another where Derby’s midfield has strong territory.

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Pic 12 - Derby missing Martin's link-up play

Against Barnsley, Nathan Byrne (RWB) gets the ball from Bielik (RCB), but with Derby’s double-pivot of Shinnie and Knight not offering a pass inside, all Byrne can do is look forward.  In this situation last season, Martin would be dropping short and providing an option to link up.  He’d drag a centre-back with him if nothing else, and that would create space in the gap behind.

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Pic 13 - Derby's front three all run away from Byrne

However, Waghorn, Lawrence and Rooney have all made runs away from Byrne.  As it happens Byrne’s long pass is good and Waghorn retains possession.  Often this season possession has been turned over in similar circumstances, which then sees a huge gap created between Derby’s three units, and they get easily passed through.

In established phases of possession, the lack of a target like Martin together with muddled patterns of play make it easier to keep Derby at bay, forcing them to play in-front of the opposition defence.

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Pic 14 - Derby with no passing route into the forward line

Last season Rooney would be looking to feed the ball into Martin with the likes of Lawrence and Waghorn running off of him.  But we can see that there is a player blocking the pass into the frontman and therefore the build-up carries little threat and Barnsley force Derby sideways with good intensity on the ball.

To break through the constant side-to-side passing Derby have been reliant on pieces of individual skill from the likes of Lawrence and Jozwiak, so City will still need to be on their guard.

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Pic 15 - Byrne throws in towards Knight versus Barnsley

We can see in the above example that Knight is looking to let the ball run across his body so that he can open out possession to Derby’s left.  Barnsley and their hectic press lie in wait with four players ready to pounce as he turns towards the centre of the pitch.

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Pic 16 - Knight takes 4 "Pawns" out of the game

With a good close control and a bit of skill Knight evades Woodrow whilst sucking Barnsley’s two defensive midfielders towards him.  He slips the ball into Jozwiak who drives towards the penalty area before sliding in left wingback Buchanan, but unfortunately, he shoots into the near post side-netting.  But a simple example where one piece of clever play can unlock a congested area.  There’s not been enough of this type of play this season though.

Set-pieces: 

As mentioned earlier, Derby have only scored 5 goals in the Championship this season.  3 of those 5 have come from direct free-kicks just outside of the penalty area:

§  Rooney (Norwich)

§  Waghorn (Nottingham Forest)

§  Waghorn (Cardiff)

Another came from a charged down free-kick where Shinnie netted the rebound (Bournemouth) so it’s an area of the pitch that City can ill-afford to give away cheap fouls.  The good news is that City give away the second least number of fouls in the Championship.

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Pic 17 - City fouls versus Cardiff

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Pic 18 - City fouls versus Huddersfield

Even better news is that they rarely foul around the penalty area, just two all season.  Maybe there is one advantage of being a bit too nice!

In terms of attacking corners, there is nothing particularly creative / inventive with Derby’s corners, but with Rooney’s delivery they do carry a potential threat.

The Players / line-up:

Not an easy one to predict with a new management team in place, so here’s Derby’s options in a 4231.

GK: David Marshall (35) – experienced shot stopper who will be full of confidence after his penalty save against Serbia saw Scotland progress to the Euros.  Started at Celtic before a loan spell at Norwich was made permanent, then moves to Cardiff, Hull and Wigan.  Signed for Derby in the summer as part of Wigan’s dire financial situation.  He is backed up by Kelle Roos (28) – the Dutchman who has had numerous loan spells since signing for Derby in 2014.

RB: Nathan Byrne (28) – well-travelled wingback who started at Tottenham and enjoyed loan spells at Brentford and Swindon.  The Swindon loan was made permanent and he was a key player in Swindon’s promotion challenge in 2014/15 that ultimately fell short.  He did secure a £1.2m move to Wolves off of the back of it though, before moving to Wigan in 2016.  Followed Marshall to Derby in the summer.  Will be battling it out with Andre Wisdom (27) – the former Liverpool Academy graduate had a loan spell at Pride Park back in 2014 but took a diversion at West Brom, Norwich and RB Salzburg before signing permanently for £2m in 2017.

LB: Lee Buchanan (19) – came through the ranks at Derby and looks to have made the left back / wingback slot his own this season with the departure of Max Lowe.  Likes to get forward and create the overlap.    Providing back-up is Craig Forsyth (31) – the former Dundee man who joined Derby from Watford back in 2013.

CB: Curtis Davies (35) – vastly experienced centre-back who’s managed to get himself back in the team of late.  Had stints at West Brom, Aston Villa, Leicester (loan), Birmingham and Hull and several million in transfer fees to boot before signing for the Rams in 2017 for £500k.  It is possible the versatile Krystian Bielik (22) – may come back into side having recently returned from a long-term knee ligament injury.  The former Arsenal man is a full Polish international and made his Championship comeback against Barnsley last time out.

CB: Matt Clarke (24) – on loan from Brighton for the second season running and perhaps the result of Adam Webster haunting him again having been at Ipswich and Portsmouth too.  Plays on the left side and more than capable on the ball.  Another option is Mike te Wierik (28) – who signed on a free transfer from Groningen in the summer, but he’s been in and out of the side since his red card on his league debut.

CM: Jason Knight (19) – just been called up to the full Ireland side having started every league match this season.  Started at Irish side Cabinteely before signing for the Rams in 2017.  His versatility is making him a regular and he’s already close to 50 Derby appearances.  George Evans (25) – is a possibility although he’s had more minutes in the back three this season.  Started at Manchester City before moving on a free to Reading in 2016.  This is his third season at Pride Park.

CM: Graeme Shinnie (29) – former Inverness player who was heavily linked with City whilst at Aberdeen before making the move South to Derby last summer on a free.  Provides some grit in the midfield and is a full Scottish international.  Battling it out for a place is Max Bird (20) – another player to come through the ranks.  Not been in the starting line-up of late but got plenty of ability.

RAM: Kamil Jozwiak (22) – Polish international who signed in September from Lech Posnan for £3.8m.  Settled in pretty well and looks like he will be a good signing.  Jordan Ibe (24) – the former Liverpool and Bournemouth wideman has yet to feature this season.

CAM: Wayne Rooney (35) – former Everton, Manchester United and DC United player who needs little introduction. England’s record scorer with 53 goals and now caretaker coach.  We will see whether he picks himself otherwise Duane Holmes (26) – the US born; versatile attacking midfielder may get a start.  The former Huddersfield man moved to Derby for £700k in August 2018.

LAM: Tom Lawrence (26) – started at Manchester United before moving to Leicester for £1.1m in 2014.  A succession of loans followed at Rotherham, Blackburn, Cardiff and Ipswich before he moved to Derby for £5m in 2017.  Exciting dribbler with an eye for a goal, he now has 20 Welsh caps.  My DANGERMAN!

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Pic 19 - Tom Lawrence my man to watch on Saturday

CF: Martyn Waghorn (30) – experienced striker who can play anywhere along the forward line.  Started at Sunderland before a series of loan and permanent deals at Charlton, Leicester (£3.2m), Hull, Millwall, Wigan and Rangers (£1m) saw him arrive at Derby in 2018 for £5m.  Over 100 career goals and an aggressive player who is happy to leave his mark on his opponent.  Louis Sibley (19) – might get a start, but he’s been goal-shy this season having burst onto the scene last season with a hat-trick against Millwall.  He can also play behind the frontman.  Further competition is provided by Colin Kazim-Richards (34) – signed on a free last month as the window shut.

Prediction (pre-Press Conference):

Although the form of both sides will be negated by a two-week break, Derby’s managerial change and City’s Covid cases meaning a restricted preparation, I still see City doing enough to gain the win.  

Bristol City 2:1 Derby County

 

Condensed Version 

We're playing Derby

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47 minutes ago, pillred said:

How many times over the years have we played a team that before we play them have not won in ages, scored a goal etc, and we all know how that turns out, fingers crossed we break that hoodoo this weekend.

Can’t see us winning tomorrow , derby will have a bounce and we’ve not had the ability to prepare properly for the game. 1-3

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5 hours ago, CiderCraig said:

Yeah, I mean, all this is great, but will there be a stream? 😎 😂

https://www.bcfc.co.uk/news/city-supports-efl-anti-piracy-campaign/

I am happy to conform to this (unless we are only on Sky, which I don't and never will have).

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