This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Derby County narrowly escaped relegation to League One last time out, and given the ongoing difficulties that surround the club, they are expected to struggle once again.
However, the early signs have been rather positive for The Rams, who after a win, three draws, and a loss, will take a lot of confidence from their start to the new campaign.
In fact, Derby’s only loss thus far was a 2-1 defeat at Peterborough United – an occasion where two goals in stoppage time earned Posh all three points.
Wayne Rooney has been severely restricted in how he can recruit this summer, adding five free agents to his squad.
With Derby defying odds early in this season, we asked some of the team at FLW for their opinions about whether Derby have what it takes to remain in the Championship again…
It is still very early days this season in the Championship and the table has yet to really fully take shape.
However, it is fair to say that Derby County have been performing better and picking up a lot more positive results than many gave them hope of before the campaign started.
Wayne Rooney is having to mature as a manager at lighting speed and he will have learned more over the summer than most new managers do in their first few years in the dugout.
The Derby boss deserves credit for having remained calm amongst the storm of off-the-field issues at Derby this summer, and he managed to attract some good free signings to the club to give his side a chance of surviving this term.
The Rams have shown a lot of promising signs with some of their early-season performances, the win at Hull City showed an ability to fight and grind games out.
While draws against Huddersfield Town, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest showed that they have a solid base to build from defensively.
However, what has been evident for Derby in a negative sense is their lack of firepower in the final third. Colin Kazim-Richards, their top scorer from last term, is out injured for a period now and that leaves Sam Baldock as their only proven number nine at Championship level.
Baldock has never been majorly prolific in his career so it is a lot of pressure to expect him to start firing in the goals that they need.
That means other attacking players like Louie Sibley, Tom Lawrence, Ravel Morrison and Kamil Jozwiack must chip in with more goals.
That will be the key for the Rams as to whether they can stay up or not. While the January window could be vital if they can get to a position as a club where they can make signings by that stage.
They have shown they have the ingredients and battling qualities to survive, but is their squad depth good enough? That is the major concern that has yet to be addressed.
This season must be a real source of frustration for Derby fans, because they have the makings of an exciting, young team with a young manager at the helm, but their Championship status is currently in danger.
In fairness to them, they have performed above many people’s expectations and the likes of Tom Lawrence and Ravel Morrison could be crucial this term as two of the club’s most talented players.
But you can’t help but feel their lack of squad depth could come back to bite them at some point if they aren’t allowed to make further signings by the EFL and they sustain more injuries.
Krystian Bielik and Jason Knight remain out alongside another crucial first-teamer in Colin Kazim-Richards, but their team spirit has been impressive along with their maturity for such an inexperienced side.
You could argue the additions of the likes of Sam Baldock, Phil Jagielka and Richard Stearman has helped to provide the right mix of youth and experience – and this is why there’s always a chance they could stay afloat.
But how long can they perform to their maximum with a limited amount of depth?