I originally intended that my first article for The Ramcast to be an argument for giving Paul Clement more time, and that I believed he would eventually turn it around. Last nights news threw a spanner in the works however, so I decided to just write down all of my thoughts on the matter, and hope that they form something resembling cohesion.
Firstly, I should make it clear; I’m gutted about how this has happened. The logic of getting rid of a manager, 8 months into their tenure, with the team sitting 5th in the league, is crazy. I appreciate that 2016 hasn’t been great so far, and I also appreciate that the season as a whole hasn’t excited people in the way many were hoping, even when we were top of the league. But, my feeling is he still deserved to see out the season, and if they decide at the end of the year, that the club would rather go a different direction, that’s fine.
The statement put out by the club has been the most frustrating thing about this, simply because it makes no sense, whatsoever. The statement bangs on about the ‘Derby Way’, and let me make this clear; I have followed Derby for just over 15 years, since I was about 6, and I don’t have a bloody clue what the ‘Derby Way’ is. The statement references it to be attractive, flowing football, whilst also bringing through youth. I am totally on board with both of those criteria, but not to the point where we sack managers every 8 months, simply because they aren’t playing expansive football. I also feel like the ‘Derby Way’ will be a line that will be used for years now, to beat Mel Morris, and the club.
This also makes me wary about who our next permanent manager would be, assuming they will look for someone who does play attractive, expansive football. I’ve seen Brendan Rodgers and Garry Monk mentioned, and I would be delighted with both of those choices, but I feel like Rodgers would be too unrealistic, and Monk had issues towards the end at Swansea dealing with player power and big egos…sound familiar? Then we leave ourselves however, with very few other managers, who do play the football that Mel Morris seems to crave. Karl Robinson at MK Dons? Paul Tisdale at Exeter? Do we look abroad, and bring in a foreign coach? All of these appointments have risks attached to them. There are other managers out there who I feel would love the job though, but a lot of them don’t play the ‘Derby Way’, so are they ruled out? Gary Rowett, worked wonders on a shoestring budget, but plays tough, steely, direct football. Nigel Pearson, again, very direct, plus the bloke is a fucking lunatic. David Moyes would be an incredible coup, and I have always felt he is one of the most underappreciated managers in Britain, but he builds solid, functional teams. He isn’t going to bring in a tiki-taka style of play anytime soon. Essentially, to sum up, I don’t have a clue who the replacement will be.
The other part of the ‘Derby Way’, seemingly, is the inclusion of youth in the squad, and I must admit, this is one area where I was disappointed in Clement. When Jamie Hanson played at the start of the season, he barely put a foot wrong, got a few assists and so on, but when Bradley Johnson came in, Hanson was relegated to the reserves, and hasn’t played since. None of the other young players have come close to being involved, so I do find that disappointing.
The other key figure in this situation now, is Darren Wassall, who is well and truly being thrown in at the deep-end. Whenever I have heard the guy speak, he sounds like a bright guy, with a good understanding of football, but the same can be said about Clement. I would imagine that Wassall will open up the on-field product, and that we will see more attacking football, just as Mel wants, but whether Wassall is capable of steadying this side, and helping them maintain and improve their league position remains to be seen. My feeling is that he will indeed stay until the end of the season, as the club announced. We will muddle through until May, and if we get into the play-offs, we’ll see what happens. If we don’t they will look at getting a new manager in, and they’ll go again. Then again, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we have a new manager in place in a few weeks time. With this club, as it is right now, I struggle to take anything on face value.
The final factor of this saga: the players. I am utterly fascinated at how they are taking this news, and I have a sneaky suspicion that they are, for the most part, quite pleased it has happened. It seemed to me, and many others, that there was a clear disconnect between the players and Clement. I forget who wrote it on Twitter last night, but I would love to read a few of the group chats the players are no doubt part of. I also think their reaction on Saturday will be equally fascinating.
To sum up, I am disappointed in how this whole situation has been handled. Do I think Paul Clement was a fantastic manager? No. I feel he had potential to be one, and it would’ve taken time to get there. Will Derby be better off in the long run, with a manager possibly more open to playing attacking football? Possibly, and the next appointment that Mel Morris and Sam Rush make will be huge for the fortunes of this club. Hopefully, whoever the next manager is, gets the time that Clement sadly wasn’t awarded.
I will hopefully be writing another piece, later this week, looking at all of the possible candidates, individually, and talking about who I personally would like to see as the next permanent boss.
Any comments are more than welcome, and you can find me on Twitter