Derby County are supposed to be a club in shambles. With a high turnover of players, a controversial manager and a transfer window spent largely shopping in the free agent market, many fancy the Rams to suffer a drop down to the third tier this season.
On Tuesday night though against Hull City, they looked impressive, a team working together and fighting hard to get a first three points on the board. They did just that too, new signing Sam Baldock bagging a goal early in the first half to send Derby back to Pride Park with the win.
After a loss to Peterborough at the weekend – despite leading the side right up until the first minute of second half stoppage time – it was just what the club needed.
Hull opened their season with an impressive 4-1 win but they’ve since suffered consecutive defeats. They’ll want to regroup and try and get some more points next to their name this weekend.
Here then are three talking points to take away from the game:
Phil Jagielka still has it at 39
Jagielka has found himself plying his trade in the second tier of English football again after 15 seasons and over 350 games in the Premier League. With Derby unable to splash the cash to bring in fresh faces, they’ve had to resort to bringing in players who find themselves without a club.
The defender, at 39, looked more likely to call it a day instead of joining a new team. However, the Rams and boss Wayne Rooney tempted the former Sheffield United man into joining the side on a short-term deal just a few days ago – and he’s already proven that he can still do a job.
Against Hull, he was a commanding figure and it was a superb way to get life with his new club started. He marshalled his defence well, kept them solid and even bagged a clean sheet for his efforts. It could not have gone any better for Jagielka and goes to show that age is but a number in some cases.
The defender will be hoping for more of the same this weekend. Although he might not be able to feature as regularly as he nears the back end of his career, it was clear for anyone who saw the game that he is still a more than capable defender to have in the Championship and his addition to the Rams side could be a huge boost this season.
Ravel Morrison looks dangerous for Derby
Another new face in the building at Pride Park is Ravel Morrison, who has so far looked an astute addition to the playing squad. With two Championship appearances to his name so far, he’s already picked up an assist and nabbed a stunning strike in the EFL Cup against Salford to tie the game and take it to penalties.
Against Hull, he again looked lively and caused all kinds of problems for the Tigers defence, managing more shots than any other player on the field. With 40 accurate passes too, he was a constant thorn in their side and has already become important to the way in which the Rams want to play.
Allowed to roam and play to his strengths, the 28-year-old is showing flashes of the player he once threatened to become. If he can continue to get on the ball and try things for the second tier side, he could be pivotal to helping them avoid the drop this season. It certainly looks like he’ll be back on the scoresheet soon for them too.
Hull need to be more clinical
It’s easier said than done but the Tigers need to put away the chances that they manage to create for themselves.
It happened against QPR in their 3-0 defeat and it happened again against Derby. They had several shots from close range against the Hoops but couldn’t find a breakthrough and against the Rams, they found opportunities more limited but still couldn’t tuck them away. Forwards Josh Magennis and Keane Lewis-Potter had their chances but couldn’t bury them and it’s now been two games in a row that they’ve both lost and not scored in.
They know they can find the back of the net – they put four past Preston on the opening day of the campaign – but they’ve since struggled to do so. They need to keep creating the chances that they have been – and then actually score some of them this weekend.