Date and time: 17/9/2011 – 1:00pm
Location: City Ground, Nottingham
Both Derby and Nottingham Forest have experienced mixed starts to their seasons leading up to one of the biggest fixtures of the campaign. Derby County got off to a flyer, winning their first four games for the first time since 1905, however, tasting defeat in their last two games has brought them back down to earth. Nottingham Forest, starting the season optimistically with the arrival of ex-England manager Steve McClaren and boosted by some decent signings, results haven’t gone their way, only picking up five points to date and the goals aren’t exactly flowing.
Recent history between the two clubs is well documented with fights occurring multiple times and some embarrassing results from both teams. The winner of each match between the clubs wins the Brian Clough (an obvious legend at both clubs) Trophy, and in the result of a draw, the previous winner keeps hold of the title. Since the competition started in 2007 Derby kept the title for over two years, playing Forest five times during that period. Since then, Forest have won three out of the last four meetings, including their first ever win at Pride Park and a 5-2 demolition at the City Ground last December.
Derby’s start to the season has been promising, picking up wins while not playing to their full potential. Winning their first four games is impressive; however, only one of them has been convincing, coming against bottom club Doncaster. Wins against Birmingham, Blackpool and Watford all could have gone either way, but nevertheless, Derby scored more than their opposition and collected three points on all occasions and you can’t ask for more than that.
Nigel Clough has had a disrupted and incomplete squad, with key players suffering from injuries such as Shaun Barker, Paul Green and Nathan Tyson, with a number of squad players also on the treatment table. Meanwhile high earners, Stephen Bywater and Dean Leacock sit in the stands without a squad number and available for transfer. Due to the amount of injuries Clough has had to deal with, 18 year old Mark O’Brien and Jeff Hendrick, 19, have been thrown into the deep end and responded positively, Hendrick particularly impressing me. Having brought in ten new signings and only letting Luke Varney go, Derby don’t have a complete squad (believe it or not), needing another central midfielder, right back and striker. Jason Shackell and Craig Bryson arriving from Barnsley and Kilmarnock respectively have been the Rams’ best buys so far. Even with a positive start to the campaign, I think Derby may struggle this season with the board failing to deliver a squad cable of challenging for the play-offs, as promised in the close season.
Nottingham Forest have not produced the quality expected from them and have had some largely disappointing results. Drawing at home to Barnsley and Leicester, while losing at Millwall and Southampton and being trashed 4-1 at home to West Ham. Doncaster Rovers are the only side Forest have picked up three points against. Their performances haven’t warranted much which is odd with their squad, as it includes high profile names such as last season’s player of the year and newly appointed captain Luke Chambers, Jonathan Greening, Andy Reid, Matt Derbyshire, and Wales international Chris Gunter at Steve McClaren’s disposal.
The former Derby assistant manager McClaren has constantly echoed former Forest gaffer Billy Davies’ comments and urged the board to invest in new players and has threatened to quit within three months of being in charge at the club. I think Forest have added some good players in Greening and Derbyshire, however, Andy Reid’s return to the club has so far been disappointing. Given time under McClaren, I think Forest should push for the play offs. But defeat against Derby and if McClaren continues to fail in perusing his transfer targets, the ex-England manager could be out of a job soon with his relationship with the owners already on the line.
Back to the game. Derby will be determined not to see a repeat of their last trip to the City Ground, while Forest will be looking to record their first home win of the season. Derby haven’t beaten Forest for 18 months and I can’t see that changing this weekend, if I’m honest. Even with Forest’s poor start, I think they’ll be too strong for Derby, with young lads who could potentially freeze in front of a hostile crowd. But, can McClaren rev his side up like Davies did for this fixture? And will the Nottingham Forest faithful see the return of former fans favourite Nathan Tyson in a Derby shirt? We will see on Saturday…
One to watch for Forest: Ishmael Miller
One to watch for Derby: Nathan Tyson (doubtful), Craig Bryson
By James England – @jamesengland121