Derby County August Review: mixed start

During this two-week break from the Championship for internationals, we review how all 24 teams have looked in their first five league games. Here’s our assessment of Derby County.

What we said in pre-season

“With Andre Wisdom, Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone joining, Derby County will have more muscle this year, but not so much magic. Their most technically gifted players, Will Hughes and Tom Ince, have gone to the Premier League without yet being directly replaced. The Rams had the Championship’s ninth worst attack last term and Gary Rowett has done little to improve it. 13th

Have they surprised us so far?

We expected pragmatism to be the priority: Wisdom, Davies and Huddlestone have all given them extra defensive security. Ince has been missed though and it remains to be seen whether Lawrence can build on an excellent few months at Ipswich.

The positives

At Bolton, Andreas Weimann was asked to press Bolton’s right flank quickly to limit the space for their most technically gifted player and he did that side of the game superbly. While fans may not be convinced on Weimann himself, his performance encapsulated the tactical discipline that Rowett is instilling into his players. Richard Keogh has provided passion and leadership at centre-back with a few excellent displays.

The negatives

The Rams don’t pose as much of a goal threat as they did under previous regimes. Knock Steve McClaren all you like, but under him the team was always one of the top scorers in the division, helped by fluid tactics. After a full pre-season under Rowett? They’ve netted five in five. They now play with two holding midfielders rather than one and the wariness of wide men like Weimann restricts their attacking contributions.

Late business

An eleventh hour bid for David Davis, who Rowett worked with at Birmingham, was rebuffed, but instead Maikel Kieftenbeld has moved from B9. Sam Winnall joins from Sheffield Wednesday to add firepower, but most are content with David Nugent and Matej Vydra up top. The question is whether they’ll get the service required.

The Football Lab’s Grade

Steps forward in terms of tactical discipline, but steps back in terms of creativity. D