I HAD to pinch myself when I read over the weekend that after Friday’s game against Hull, Derby will be halfway through their Championship fixtures for 2012/13 having played every other club in the division.
Where has the time gone? It really doesn’t seem like five minutes since the bizarre night against Scunthorpe in the Capital One Cup and the first Championship game against Sheffield Wednesday.
There have been some ups and downs, some encouraging signs and some bad moments, and I’ll be looking through some of those in the next edition.
For now though it’s time to reflect on the bad away run ending at Bristol City, taking the Rams’ recent run to three wins and a draw from their last five matches.
And once again that’s a turnaround to illustrate how fortunes in the Championship can change – one defeat in five is back towards the form of a couple of months ago.
I must admit that when I saw Derby’s side for Saturday’s game at Bristol, five across midfield and with one man up top, I was a little concerned as I’m always a fan of taking the game to the opposition where possible, but the result came and with it was a decent performance too so no complaints can be levelled there.
And a first clean sheet since early November is also a reason for encouragement and backed up Nigel Clough’s faith in throwing in young Mark O’Brien for his first start in more than a year to partner Richard Keogh at centre-back.
It is easy to forget that O’Brien only turned 20 last month, so long he has been on the scene at senior level despite his injury problems, and with Jake Buxton out for a couple of months this is definitely the Irish stopper’s opportunity to really cement his place in the team and go from strength to strength.
So now on to the visit of Hull, who will arrive at Derby on Friday night fourth in the Championship and on a great run of nine wins and a draw from their last 13 games.
As outlined earlier it will mark the halfway point of the season’s fixtures and could well be a good measure of where Derby are at so far in 2012/13.
And as this is my last column before Christmas, I would like to send out my best festive wishes to all readers and Rams fans. May Santa bring us all what we want!
This week’s possibly-forgotten blast from the past is Paul Parker, a well-known name as a former England international and Manchester United man, whose six-game Rams spell in 1996 is less well recalled.
By Gareth Davis