Gareth Davis explains why the rams are in good hands going into the new year under nigel clough...
SO it’s mid-term report time and the one question on everyone’s lips is this: Have Derby County made progress compared to last season?
And as far as I am concerned the answer is a resounding yes – the Derby County of 2012/13 is an improvement on the Derby County of 2011/12.
There are plenty of facts to back that theory up. First of all, the figure that counts for so much, points gained, is ahead of the same stage last season.
More games have been won, more goals have been scored, and less goals have been conceded, all of which shows that the Rams are heading in the right direction.
And to think, I came home from the season-opening match against Sheffield Wednesday after Derby had let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 and saw people on an internet forum saying Nigel Clough should be sacked!
But above the cold facts you only have to look at the majority of the performances, and the overall approach of the current group of players, to see that progress is being made.
Take a look at the squad and while it may not be huge in terms of numbers, there is competition for pretty much every position in the starting line-up.
The absence of Shaun Barker has been a blow but Jake Buxton and James O’Connor have filled in admirably while Mark O’Brien has a great career ahead of him.
Behind them, who would have thought Frank Fielding would find himself on the sidelines less than a year after being in the full England squad?
There are plenty of choices in midfield and attack, especially once Jamie Ward returns from injury, while the emergence of Will Hughes speaks for itself.
There have been times when past squads might have crumbled but this year’s group held themselves together and the amount of late goals they have scored is testament to that.
Victories over Forest and Leeds are always occasions to savour while the thrashing of Watford in September also stands out as a highlight.
So now we look towards the end of 2012 and into 2013 with high hopes that the second half of the campaign can be as positive as the first half.
This week’s possibly-forgotten blast from the past is Khalilou Fadiga, the Senegalese former Inter Milan midfielder who was one of many Phil Brown loan signings in the 2005/06 season.