Derby preview and pubs: A Good Friday for Brentford?
With apologies to Derby fans, before talking about Friday’s opponents, Good Friday means only one thing to Brentford supporters……..
RAMS MAKE LATE PROMOTION CHALLENGE
Now on to our latest Good Friday visitors.
Derby are making a late bid to try to sneak into the play-offs – and Brentford could play a big part in determining whether or not they make it.
The Rams ended January in the final play-off place following a 3-0 win at Ipswich – but a run of one win in their next nine matches left them 10 points adrift of the top six and cost Steve McClaren his job to end his second spell in charge.
Former Derby defender and ex-Birmingham manager Gary Rowett was appointed as his successor and a run of one draw and three wins in his first four games in charge has left them only seven points away from the top six and revived promotion hopes.
Rowett will hope that a win at Griffin Park and a Bees victory at Craven Cottage at the end of the month could help them edge back into the play-off spots.
Their other fixtures include two games against fellow play-off contenders in Huddersfield – at home on Easter Monday – and Sheffield Wednesday – away on Saturday week – before they finish at home to Wolves and then at Rotherham.
Rowett is Derby’s third manager of the season.
Nigel Pearson started the campaign in charge but left by mutual consent in the October international break with the club 20th in the table.
McClaren replaced him, 17 months after being sacked, and from late October to mid-December oversaw a run of seven straight wins that took the club from 19th to fifth in the table.
That form fell away though and that cost the former England manager his job at Pride Park for the second time.
Derby are in their ninth successive season in the Championship – their 14th out of 15th at this level – and have only made the play-offs in two of the past eight years.
Last season they finished fifth but lost 3-2 on aggregate to Hull in the semi-finals and in 2013/14 they were third and reached the play-off final by beating Brighton 6-2 on aggregate, only to lose 1-0 to QPR at Wembley.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
As mentioned above, Gary Rowett took charge of Derby a month ago and is unbeaten so far after four matches.
It is Rowett’s second visit to Griffin Park this season as he was Birmingham boss when they won 2-1 here at the end of November, a result which left the Blues fourth in the table.
However three games later he was surprisingly sacked, despite the side then sitting just outside the play-off zone and the fact that he was the Championship’s third longest-serving manager behind Ipswich’s Mick McCarthy and Preston’s Simon Grayson, after just over three years in charge.
Before arriving at St Andrews, Rowett had two-and-a-half years in charge of Burton, during which time he twice led them to the League Two play-offs. He was previously the Brewers’ assistant manager to Paul Peschisolido.
Rowett, a defender, finished his playing career, in which he made more than 400 appearances, at Burton and also represented Birmingham while his other clubs were Cambridge, Everton, Blackpool (loan), Derby, Leicester and Charlton.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford drew 0-0 on a Tuesday night in October in our first meeting with Derby this season.
The match was Steve McClaren’s second back in charge of the Rams and was our second goalless draw in three matches, having previously not had one for nearly 12 months.
Derby did the double over us last season.
The away game was Lee Carsley’s second in temporary charge and first half goals from Chris Martin and Tom Ince condemned us to a 2-0 defeat.
Martin was also on target in the return in February with one of three goals in the last 10 minutes as the Rams hit back to win 3-1.
Alan Judge put us ahead from 20 yards six minutes into the second half but Jeff Hendrick equalised in the 80th minute and then Cyrus Christie gave the Rams the lead three minutes later before Martin confirmed the end to an eight-game winless run deep into injury-time.
BBC Radio Derby sports presenter and reporter Owen Bradley looks at Derby’s roller-coaster campaign and assesses all three of this season’s managers, gives his view on Brentford’s recruitment methods and warns us who to watch out for in the Rams line-up.
Q – How would you assess Derby’s season? Was promotion the expectation and if so, how big a blow is the fact it is now unlikely to happen?
A – It’s been up and down, for sure! There is no doubt that promotion was the aim at the start of the season, it simply has to be for a club in Derby’s position, so of course not managing it means the season has to be considered a disappointment. But looking at the bigger picture, I feel pretty good about where Derby are right now. They have a committed owner who has shown how much he cares about the club, a loyal fanbase and now an outstanding young manager who has arrived with enough time left in the campaign to assess what he needs to do ahead of next season. So it hasn’t been a complete write-off.
Q – What went wrong for Nigel Pearson and then Steve McClaren in his second spell?
A – I think Nigel Pearson tried to change too much too quickly. Like the vast majority, I thought he was the right man for the job last summer. I also think he would have got it right, but it might have taken a couple of seasons and Derby don’t want to wait that long. He clearly didn’t click with the squad and wasn’t getting the best out of them. Ultimately that is the manager’s job, to get the most from his players. The manner of his departure was a bit messy and didn’t leave anyone involved looking particularly good. But I wish him all the best. He was great to deal with, really fun to interview, and I’m sure he’ll be successful again.
As for Steve McClaren, he never should have been reappointed. I thought it was a strange move, particularly with Chris Powell already at the club, and that clearly didn’t work out either. Even when Derby went on their long winning run under Steve, they never played that well, and there was no sign of the fantastic football the team had produced under him during his first spell in charge.
That said, he should have been given more time. That’s probably true for Nigel Pearson too – every manager deserves that. It’ll be interesting to see what Steve does next, as there’s no doubt he is a fantastic coach who still has a lot to offer somewhere. I hope our paths cross again.
Q – What is the feeling about Gary Rowett’s appointment? Do you think Derby have now got the right man to move forward and what can he bring that his predecessors couldn’t?
A – My feeling is that Derby have got this one absolutely spot on. But then again, I thought Paul Clement and Nigel Pearson were great appointments too, so what do I know?!
Gary has got everything, really. He has experience from his spells at Burton Albion and Birmingham, he’s got the connection to Derby as a former Ram and current resident in the city and he’s got the personality to succeed too. I was fortunate enough to deal with him when he was Brewers boss and from a media point of view, he’s a diamond. But he’s clearly a genuinely nice guy with it.
His teams have a good track record too. He wants to play football, but he’s pragmatic and won’t get obsessed by playing a certain style or particular formation. If he’s given the time and the tools to do the job, he’ll be successful.
Q – Do you have any good or bad memories of previous trips to Griffin Park, or in home games against Brentford, either for work or as a fan?
A – My Brentford memories are pretty rare to be honest, given the number of times the two clubs have faced each other in my lifetime! I do like to keep a keen eye on Brentford though, as something of an ‘advanced stats’ guy. I’m a big US sports fan – ice hockey and baseball in particular – and Moneyball is probably my favourite book, so I’m into the numbers side of the game and think the things going on at Griffin Park are pretty interesting.
In terms of action on the pitch, Derby’s victory there last season included rare stoppage-time goals to win it for the Rams – Cyrus Christie and Chris Martin’s strikes were very important in the Rams’ season.
Q – What do you remember about this season’s game at Pride Park?
A – Again, not much! It wasn’t a great game, I think it was Steve McClaren’s second match back in charge too? How much can you say about a 0-0 draw?!
Q – Which Derby players should we watch out for?
A – Everyone in the Championship knows all about David Nugent and he’s had a great start under Gary Rowett. His hat-trick against Fulham recently was fantastic. Tom Ince can always hurt you too. There are no secrets or surprises about this Derby team, really.
Q – Which Bees players will you be wary of?
A – I’ve always liked Jota. He was the sort of player I’d have loved Derby to sign during McClaren’s first spell in charge. Brentford seem to have a habit of discovering exciting, attacking players. I’m looking forward to seeing Lasse Vibe and Romaine Sawyers too.
Derby played a 4-3-3 formation in their last match at Birmingham last Saturday.
Former England goalkeeper Scott Carson (ex-Wigan) maintained his record as the club’s only league ever-present this season, at St Andrews.
He played behind an experienced back four featuring former Northern Ireland international Chris Baird (ex-Fulham) at right-back, January signing and former Sweden international Marcus Olsson (ex-Blackburn) at left-back and Republic of Ireland international centre-halves in captain Richard Keogh (ex-Coventry) and Alex Pearce (ex-Reading).
Bradley Johnson (ex-Norwich) was in central midfield with Tom Ince (ex-Blackpool and son of Paul), who has been involved in all but of the Rams’ league games this season, and Scotland international Johnny Russell (ex-Dundee United) on the flanks.
Jacob Butterfield (ex-Barnsley) and former Scotland international Craig Bryson (ex-Kilmarnock) played further forward in support of January signing and former England international David Nugent (ex-Middlesbrough), who played up front and who has scored five goals in his last seven matches, including the earlier mentioned hat-trick against Fulham.
Czech Republic international and former Watford striker Matej Vydra dropped to the bench, where he joined another former Hornets, and Scotland international, striker in Ikechi Anya, former England international striker Darren Bent (ex-Aston Villa), homegrown midfielder Will Hughes, Republic of Ireland full-back Cyrus Christie (ex-Coventry), Guinea internatonal Abdoul Camara (ex-Angers (Fr)) and goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell (ex-Newcastle).
Catch up with the Beesotted Derby pre-match podcast below.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD
For Derby fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.
There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).
There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Road (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.
You can check out details of how the tube is running on Transport for London’s website here.