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The Derby Diaries: Making of a superpower

Leading the Rams from the merciless Championship and into Europe's Elite...
Started on 22 November 2014 by Elly
Latest Reply on 27 January 2015 by Elly
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Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
The Genesis

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Appointed a little of a year ago, John Legend look-alike El-Roy Salvo was deemed young and maybe too ambitious. The massive exodus that he sparked in his first week in charge alone was heavily criticized by the fans who saw long-serving coaches and key players sold; some to rival clubs!
His policy of luring talented youngsters and building them up with experienced Internationals didn't look to pay off early in his career as results went against him.
By November, fans were questioning his ability, and the board were equally sceptical. A team predicted to be 9th, Salvo’s charisma and ambition had assured promotion in his very first press conference in July and it seemed to have gotten to the head of everyone. With the team battling to break into play-off places, it was hard to sympathize with the young 38 year-old manager.

By the end of January 2015, Derby had made the most transfers in England, bringing in 13 players; including exciting Norwegian youngsters Kristoffer Ajer, John Hou Saeter and promising Dutch defender Keziah Veendorp.
A new revolution of youngster heralded by Salvo and his midfield maestro Will Hughes began to take shape as Derby broke into the play-off places and continued to impress.

The fight for promotion took a tumble as captain Maik Franz asked to leave. He was homesick, and performances were dropping. Panic buy Oguchi Onyewu and the return of Shaun Barker from a long term injury failed to help rejuvenate Derby as the season wore on.
Surprise package Brentford, led by Spanish playmaker Jota, were favourites to clinch the Sky Bet Championship now, with Wolves, Huddersfield Town, Fulham, and Middlesbrough all in the race.
Losing heavily 4-1 to Huddersfield tore apart the plans for automatic promotion, but after an inspirational team meeting by Salvo, solid performances in the play-offs saw them pip Middlesbrough (via penalties) to promotion with Brentford (the winners) and Wolves.

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With interest now in the off-season in Player of the Year Will Hughes, it remains to be seen if El-Roy Salvo’s plans of building a team around the playmaker will hold water. With Tottenham and Arsenal peeking around, it’s hard to say Will will stay.
Worse, board takeover has been on-going for weeks, stifling Salvo’s attempts in the transfer market. A number of transfer targets have already been snapped up by rivals; Salvo watching on helplessly.
The worst news: There are rumours Salvo could be replaced by the new board should the takeover go through as planned…
Looks like a great story, keep it up.
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Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
Rams return to the Premier League: Welcome lads...

Manager El-Roy Salvo has been saved by the fans who appreciated his pragmatic approach to the reformed Derby. New board chairman Phil Gartside had no choice but to comply with the fans’ demand of keeping their new coach.
With new-found belief and a transfer kitty big modest enough, Salvo starts work on his team to suit the English Premier League. There’s an exodus of retiring players though; in Elimane Coulibaly, Shaun Barker, John Eustace and Oguchi Onyewu.
Talisman Will Hughes continues to draw interest from the Premier League’s elite. With time racing, it isn’t a matter of what to tell Will Hughes to make him stay… It is about how much Salvo can make out of him…

The inevitable time finally arrived, and Arsenal comes knocking with an inquiry. Will is keen to speak to them, and all fans and teammates wait for Salvo’s reaction.
While negotiations start, Will Hughes is seen pacing with hands clasped together on the training ground at (Venue). He hopes that El-Roy Salvo will be kind enough to grant him the move into European football places.
In the end, Arsenal’s men come out with red faces; they had been forced to pay the premium; a whooping 50 million. However, more than half of the sum would be spread over a 48-month period. Will Hughes shares an emotional farewell barely a week later, and all eyes are on Salvo to find a replacement for the playmaker.

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Several names are flying around, and aggressive agents are knocking on Derby’s doors hour after hour. Most of Salvo’s targets unfortunately do not think Derby would be a suitable club. They are ambituos and a team tipped for relegation isn’t one that the likes of Francesco Lodi.
Barely a week before the Premier League kicks off, Salvo wraps up astonishing deals bringing in Markus Henriksen (midfielder), Kevin Trapp (goalkeeper), James Husband (Left Back/ Left Wing Back), Rafael Romo (goalkeeper) and amazingly on a free, Ezequiel Rescaldani (Argentine striker) and Butra (midfielder).
Along with exciting young Belgian Muhamed Tahiri and veteran defender Hilton, Salvo’s team is looking stronger as the season curtain raiser draws near at White Hart Lane.
Losing in pre-season against Nottingham Forest 4-2 may have sent warning bells ringing, but even the pessimistic of fans hoped that the new stars would step up and aid the simple course: Avoid relegation.

The day arrives and travelling fans are cautiously optimistic. The departure of Will Hughes, along with other key players in Marton Fulop and the retired bunch looked forgotten right before the fateful kick-off whistle.
The game certainly isn’t one-sided. A hungry Derby team against a technical-gifted Spurs side boasting Lamela, Roberto Firmino, former Barca wonderkid Munir, and Andriy Yarmolenko. At the helm up-front is the beast himself; Christian Benteke.
While Salvo’s young starlets throw all they could at their superior opponents, it looks like child’s play in front of goal. Tottenham massacres Derby 5-1. The only light for Derby is record signing Henriksen making his mark by scoring late to assure the fans he could be what Hughes was to them last season; a ray of hope in times of despair. Welcome to the League, Rams!
I hope you bounce back from that result! Good luck!
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Thanks Jose-Fonte! :)
Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
Getting down to business early in the EPL

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El-Roy Salvo’s tactics are being criticized. The fans are claiming his football isn’t so exciting anymore, and opposition managers are complaining about the combative nature akin to his side now. Even the king of ‘bus parkers’ Jose Mourinho offers his thoughts. But Salvo is proving a point: His youngsters needed protection, and they were not getting any. 17 year-olds playing week in week out are bound to toughen up. Despite the poor start against Tottenham, they lashed out with a 3-0 Capital One Cup victory over Crawley and an emphatic 6-1 victory over fellow Premier League debutants Brentford.
Despite settling in well in the league, and hanging around 16th and 17th most times, fans are not happy. To Salvo, he cared nothing about that. Once his players were happy, he had nothing to say to anyone.
The loss of Will Hughes is now distant memory, and Markus Henriksen has proven to be a fitting replacement. A bit more experienced and intelligent, the Norwegian builds a slick partnership with fellow Norwegian prodigy and Salvo’s newly-appointed assistant captain, Kristoffer Ajer. At the back in defence, the tutoring of Keziah Veendorp by veteran Brazilian defender Hilton is reaping results as the Dutch youngster together with club captain (another Norwegian) Vadim Demidov start building a stonewall at the back.

Up front, Ezequiel Rescaldani has claimed an automatic spot for himself, though the fans have been excited by the cameo performances of Jamie Ward and Johnny Russell. Youngsters Muhamed Tahiri and Charlie Johnson (regen) have also successfully broken into the first team, ensuring the Rams have the youngest squad with an average age of 24. Technically, that is actually higher than reflected as the older players were merely back-up material in Salvo’s routine line-up!

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As the season moves from September through October, Salvo is forced to work on another tactic to compensate for his combative and possession-oriented defensive style. Results are grinded out and lots of late goals becomes the hallmark of this young Derby side, led predominantly by its Norwegian backbone.
But it’s not nearly enough. In fact, apart from a spirited 2-1 victory over Everton in the Capital One Cup in October, Derby has been without a victory for several weeks, mounting comebacks to claim draws over and over again… Despite sitting just above the doomed zone, it looks like listening to the fans for once hasn’t been a smart choice for Salvo.

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As December beckons and the season grows, he needs to improve on results and push as higher up as possible. Team chemistry is at its peak, and manager confidence seems pretty high among the players. The dreaded December fixtures are coming… To borrow a phrase from ‘Game of Thrones’, El-Roy knows that winter is coming…
Derby has to step up and show true ambition.
Unfortunate results! I would recommend you add some images if you would like more views :) It helps break up text and make it more appealing! Keep at it.
1
Really nice start, some images would be nice :)

A guide on how to upload images and use other BBCodes can be found here :)
Thanks Toon and Tallery! Images are being added now! Enjoy! :)
Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
December Renaissance

The haters are biting their nails as Salvo’s young Derby team have suddenly started scaring the bigger boys. They are fearless, and play strong both home and away.
The players have come out to say that the coach has been a genius.
“He’s always with us on the training grounds; he listens a lot. We appreciate that, and we do our best to repay his faith in us.” Lanky Norwegian midfielder Kristoffer Ajer told a reporter at Pride Park.
While a few players have fallen down the pecking order in Salvo’s plans, others are taking advantage and are showing what they can do. Brazilian technician Sodinha’s career has been plagued by injuries since arriving last season. A couple of fantastic goals from range and curling free kicks are the only reasons why Salvo still has him in the first team. It looks likely he could move on in January.

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Among those to have capitalized on Sodinha’s inconsistency is youngster Charlie Johnson, bought from Plymouth for a wee 65k while Derby were in the Championship last season. The youngster’s work in training has been praised by the manager, and his versatility has been a factor in his chances for the first team. From nowhere, he’s suddenly being dubbed ‘the next Paul Gascoigne’ by the press.
While results have been amazing, and Derby are sitting comfortably in mid-table, rumours still hover around former captain Maik Franz and former first choice striker Jamie Ward. Franz is contemplating retirement altogether after admitting he has been homesick for a while, contributing to the loss of form and the emergence of teenager Keziah Veendorp as the club’s most reliable centre-back to partner new captain Demidov.

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For Ward, retirement is probably another decade away, and he is considering his options, especially with Argentine Rescaldani on form alongside Belgian sensation Muhamed Tahiri and another shrewd youngster signing, Costa (regen), whose catchy performances in the youth side have earned him a call into the senior side.
With departures likely in January, everyone is casting an eye on Salvo. The ambitious young manager is keeping his cards close to his chest, but he claims he has ‘a big surprise signing’ coming….
We can’t wait!
Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
New Year, new fortunes

The January transfer window is known for a lot of famous transactions, and it looks like El-Roy Salvo may have just found himself a star.
With controversies surrounding players such as Maik Franz, Jamie Ward, Sodinha, and a now a host of reserve team players including Connor Sammon and Mason Bennett, there was no way Derby was going to have a quiet January.
With all the drama of players wanting to leave, Salvo has focused more on additions rather than departures. While the likes of Sodinha and Franz are on the telephone lines with their agents trying to sort out moves, Salvo is seen on a plane with his personal friend and club Chief Scout David Hamilton to watch a chap called Josue playing for FC Porto’s B team.

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Josue is a Portugal international who has made an appearance for the national team already, but finds himself in unwanted company in the Portuguese powerhouse. Unknown too many, Porto are actually willing to let Josue go for absolutely nothing!
After successfully completing a deal for goalkeeping prodigy Garry Davies (regen) from Barnsley in a 1.2 million deal that took almost three weeks to complete (due to interest from at least five clubs!), Salvo is personally going to watch Josue play.
With the window closing in three days, there is certainly no time to waste. Shortly after arriving in Portugal, Salvo gets an emergency call from the club’s South American scout Santiago Chamorro. Shocking news: Juan Roman Riquelme says he’d be interested in moving to the Premier League! As far as everyone at Derby was concerned, Salvo’s policies revolved around nurturing talent into superstars; something that was made possible by tutoring from experienced players such as Riquelme. Charlie Johnson in particular would be a great student to the Argentine schemer.
Two days after watching Josue impress for Porto’s B side, Salvo is quoted by the press on deadline day concerning imminent arrivals of Riquelme and his long-held surprise signing ‘Josue’.
Derby fans and players are delighted with the arrival of the duo, particularly Josue, who has been snapped for nothing.

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Featuring in his first game four days later, Josue nets the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory over QPR. The Portuguese clearly needed no time for settling!
If fans of Derby thought he had introduced himself fittingly and could now relax and gel, they were wrong. Against a Stoke side that is performing wonders, marshalled by the daunting Ryan Shawcross, Josue hits a hat trick as Derby beat Stoke 4-2 at the Britannia! He assisted the fourth goal.
Ryan Shawcross was quick to admit after the game, ‘We didn’t see him coming. We don’t know what happened out there today, but one thing is for sure. Derby were not lucky; we were.’
In the top ten now, Derby fans know that the target of escaping the drop is clearly almost done. With quality and hunger and experience in the team, they dare dream of somehow sneaking into Europe… Somehow…
Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
New Talisman; new confidence

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Derby and Salvo are winners in the winter transfer window as the team grows strong match after match. Led by their new playmaker Josue, the Rams are becoming more fearless and ruthless.
Through February, the Rams pick up impressive draws against West Brom and Everton. Josue, unavailable for the former, turned goal scorer in the latter with a sweetly struck effort from distance. The next match against Arsenal proves another stern test. Arsenal are looking like favourites for the league, unbeaten in nine league games but coming to face the Rams on the back of an unfortunate Capital One Cup final defeat on penalties to Chelsea.
Arsenal’s coach, Andre Villas-Boas takes the time to praise his home country boy Josue, claiming, ‘He’s a good lad. He has that quality to play in the Premier League and he is enjoying himself. I just hope he doesn’t enjoy the game too much against us.’
With a stadium full to capacity, and Rams supporters chanting long before the kick-off, the match picked for TV was tipped to be a spectacle to enjoy.
Early in the first half, Josue strikes the first blow finishing in typical fashion and throwing the fans into a frenzy. He stands in front of the fans with his arms aloft. They absolutely love him!
Derby hold on and defend gallantly as Arsenal throw everything they can at the home side. Young Dutch wonderkid Veendorp is a candidate for player of the match as at half-time, typifying his game with amazing last minute interceptions and challenges that left both Salvo and the fans in delightful mood.
Second half proved a similar game, the Rams playing a possessive game that often ended with Josue feeding either Rescaldani upfront or young Belgian Tahiri on the right wing for a shot at Szczesny.
In the 83rd minute, substitute Johnny Russell nets to put the Gunners in despair, while the home fans’ screams become deafening at Pride Park.
Danny Welbeck shows up late to score a good goal on the stroke of full time to ensure a tense finale in injury time. The gunners had a lost hammer blow as Josue ensures he is named man-of-the-match with a 94th minute cracker.

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After the match, Villas-Boas admitted quietly, ‘We underestimated them and paid dearly. As for Josue, Derby should hope he stays beyond next season.’
Rams fans won’t care less whatever Villas-Boas is implying. They have a new hero and they will sing today.
After the match, El-Roy Salvo is seen hurrying out of the dressing room. He is caught by a journalist.
‘El-Roy, why the hurry? Your assistant is enjoying the adulation at the post-match conference. Where are you off to?’
Salvo smiles his arrogant smile that is commonly seen whenever there was a triumph. ‘I’m meeting with the Director of football Chris Evans. The youth intake is in three days. That’s what I’m focusing on now. Who knows? We could see another star to add to the likes of John (Hou Saeter) and Kristoffer (Ajer), and Charlie (Johnson) pretty soon.’
Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
Exciting youth prospects for the Rams...!!!

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Salvo has been talking about the day before it arrives. The day he had the chance to watch the new recruits square up against the existing youth team at the Derby Training Centre.
In fact, Salvo does not attend this game alone. Alongside him was his faithful assistant Allan Kernaghan and is good friend David Hamilton (Derby Chief Scout). Director of football Chris Evans and Head of Youth Development Kristjaan Speakman are all loitering about at the Training Centre. The busiest man was the coach of the youth side Giacomo Filippi who is psyching up his squad to show their experience against the new lads.
Some had been mentioned already, and so Salvo is watching with an eye on some of the new lads. One of those tipped by Chis Evans to be a good prospect is young defender Laurie Laxton. Born and raised in the city, Laxton is a Rams fan and hopes to impress in order to make his dream move.

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Salvo and his staff are treated to some good touches and hunger from both sides as the new lads win the game 2-0. Laurie Laxton impresses immensely, and Salvo is seen leaving the Derby Training Centre early, in deep discussions with Chris Evans.
The next day, it is announced Laxton has been tied down to a youth contract. The news didn’t end there; Laxton has been asked by Salvo to train with the Reserve Team. Now that surely is a dream come true for the 16 year-old boy!
Elly's avatar Group Elly
6 yearsEdited
Finishing High for Salvo


It is looking almost all-rosy for El-Roy Salvo and Derby County as they are looking likely to avoid relegation and potentially fight for a European place amazingly. It is not without toil though.
Throughout March, individual heroics from key places is usually the difference between Derby and strong opposition. One is s sturdy defence marshalled by German goalie Kevin Trapp and Dutch prodigy Keziah Veendorp.
The goal-friendly midfield with the likes of Derby academy product Jeff Hendricks, Ajer, Hou Saeter and more influentially Josue ensure that the dream is kept alive as the Rams push for an unlikely European spot.
Certainly, competing with the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle and West Ham is a mammoth task for any team, but the dreamers in Derby are in abundance, and El-Roy Salvo isn’t one known to think small.

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Hard-earned 1-1 draws with Chelsea and Southampton home and away respectively is followed by sizzling 3-1 victory against Euro spot contenders West Ham before two 3-2 victories against Leicester (Home) and Crystal Palace (Away).
With four more games before the season wraps up, the Rams have Man City, Chelsea, Wolves and then Liverpool. No one could ask for worse as far as the fixtures are concerned!

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With all the good results on the pitch, the dressing room has its own issues. With the club performing so well, there are rumours of strong additions to the squad already being discussed, while non-performers and those struggling to get games are fearing the worst.
Johnny Russell, who had been asked by Salvo to train with the Reserve side is almost certain to leave, while Jamie Ward’s contract looks set to run out at the end of the season, along with the injury-prone Sodinha. The 18 year-Old Portuguese prodigy Bruno Costa is a shock bet to the list of departures, as the teenager, despite reports tipping him to be a star, has struggles with injuries ever since signing for Derby. He has only made 12 appearances in total, though he managed to pop in three goals.
Veteran defenders Zat Knight and Hilton have been usurped by the likes of Keziah Veendorp and Ryan Shotton, and are both contemplating retirement altogether. Conor Sammon looks set to leave on a free as well, while Craig Bryson; influential in the promotion push a season ago has asked to leave for more game time.

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With so many departures on the line, many are questioning the plans Salvo has to revolutionize the squad, especially if they do manage to miraculously finish above Liverpool and the likes to claim a Euro League spot. While Salvo wouldn’t want to upset the balance in the current team by making comments about signing for next season, rumours won’t stop… Especially one persistent one: A young Spanish starlet on loan at Barcelona from Deportivo La Coruna; Bicho. It’s been said that 20 year-old Bicho and Salvo are close friends and while Barcelona have the option to buy Bicho for 6 million, it’s unlikely they will bid and Bicho could end up joining the likes of Josue to increase the quality and flair in the side.

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Fans can dream, but for now, prayers are needed for the challenge awaiting against four strong giants to end the season successfully.
End of season and transfers

Last four games of Salvo’s second season in charge of the Rams has ended in the most amazing way. Tipped for relegation at the end of the season by most pundits, the Rams have defied the odds and ended the season in 6th place.

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The fans have voted James Husband as their player of the season, surprising many. However, James’ consistent performances over the course of the season and his now-famous last ditch tackling has not gone unnoticed by the fans. Many argued that Josue had only joined in early February, and up until then, there were several players that were carrying the side.
As anticipated, vultures are circling, as inquiries for certain players are already being made. Johnny Russell looks set to be sold and a host of clubs are interested. There is a debate as to whether Jamie Ward should be offered a new contract. The striker who plays on the wings as well managed a modest return of 6 goals in a total of 30 appearances, picking up 2 POTM awards. However, it is looking unlikely he will stay.

Rumours of players being linked to Derby are endless, but El-Roy Salvo isn’t tipping his hand. Reportedly being handed a transfer kitty of not less than 60 million, he can afford to do more scouting and deliberations before any expensive additions to the squad.
The inevitable happens as offers come for captain Demidov. Demidov had started the season well, but has now been eclipsed by the amazing Veendorp. With niggling injuries, his abilities have dwindled and Salvo is likely to look for a much stronger defender to partner the promising Veendorp.

Newly promoted Bournemouth snap up Demidov and Right-Back Cyrus Christie. The unsettled Craig Bryson is excited when West Ham bids for him, and joins the Hammers for a reported fee of 2.5 million. Johnny Russell made his move finally to Crystal Palace for 4.7 million. While Zat Knight, Hilton, Sodinha, Jamie Ward, Keiron Freeman and Conor Sammon leave the club, Derby announce the signing of Nick Powell on a free transfer.
Within the same week, Derby announce the signings of Alfred N'Diaye (8.25 mil), Alfreð Finnbogason (Sonni Nattestad (3 mil). Salvo adds Norwich’s Martin Olsson (6.5 mil) two days later.

Rumours of Spanish sensation Bicho continue though, but no movement has been seen. The midfielder reportedly has a 6 mil release clause, and many are wondering why El-Roy Salvo is yet to make a move. New rumours surfacing are now linking Derby with Stade Rennais 17 year-old French wonderkid Nicolas Janvier. The French side however are unwilling to sell at any price.
Janvier negotiations continue for several weeks after Salvo formally makes a bid. Eventually, Salvo breaks his transfer record by 500k by signing the French for a reported sum of 12.5 mil (4.8 mil spread over 48 months). Interestingly, there is no news of Bicho.

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Meanwhile, the EPL starts after Derby successfully beats Aberdeen over two legs in the Euro Cup 3rd Qualifying Round. After surprisingly beating West Brom 2-0; hot prospect Charlie Johnson and Rescaldani scoring, the Rams surprisingly battle hard to overcome Nordsjaelland in the Euro Cup Play-Off. Rams also lose 1-0 to defending Champions Arsenal at the Emirates and then play an entertaining 1-1 home game with Liverpool two days before transfer deadline.

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Lo and behold, El-Roy Salvo and Derby finalize three key signings on deadline day; Michael Carrick for a wee 725k, versatile Vasilis Pliatsikas (3.4 mil) and then Bicho for 6 mil. Now it’s game on…!

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