This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand….
Derby County haven’t had the best start to the season and find themselves sitting in 19th place after the first six games of the campaign.
Phillip Cocu has come into Pride Park with fresh ideas and is looking to stamp his mark on the club after former boss, Frank Lampard, left to manage Premier League side, Chelsea.
It hasn’t been the sort of start Cocu would have wanted at the club and he’ll be hoping to turn things around in the coming weeks, starting on Friday night when his side take on Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.
The Rams had a disastrous week before the international break as they were thrashed 3-0 by rivals Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup before receiving the same result on the following Saturday at Brentford.
The defence is clearly an issue at the moment, and one factor that might be affecting the backline is the indecisive nature that Cocu is showing in picking his favoured centre-back pairing.
Derby brought in Krystian Bielik from Arsenal, and the highly-rated Matt Clarke from Brighton on a season-long loan. Both of the new signings would arguably be expecting a starting spot in the side as the campaign went on.
However, at this current point in time, it’s evident that Cocu doesn’t quite know who his preferred partnership in the defensive line is. He’s picked Bielik and Richard Keogh for the last two league games, but before that, Matt Clarke was partnering 33-year-old Keogh.
The two centre-halves in any team are one of the most important positions on the pitch. They need to be settled and learn an understanding between one another in order to play at a capable level such as the Championship.
Manager, Cocu, must decide what his preferred pairing will be, and fast, in order for Derby to stop conceding goals and push up the league table. It’s a vital period in the season for the club, as the table starts taking shape and teams don’t want to be too far adrift of their aims.
It is a real dilemma, as the big-money signing of Bielik obviously has pressure to play, yet Brighton will be hoping that Clarke can feature in a considerable amount of games to enhance his development. At the same time, it’s unlikely either would play together as that would mean dropping captain Keogh.
It’ll be interesting to see who Cocu picks on Friday night, in what will be a tough test against a physical Cardiff side.