Jermain Defoe has just been named the new manager of Gillingham.
The 38 year old former international scored 12 times for England in 54 appearances.
Key defensive midfielder Marcelo Rios, has a neck strain and is out for about 2 weeks.
He's liable to miss our last two games!!!
With that in mind, I'll need to reshuffle our bench.
Remember how I asked how did Luton get to be so savvy in the loan market? I have now noticed that three of four of the loanees have returned to their clubs, and the fourth member, Geoff Groves from Reading is injured and is out for between 10 days and three weeks.
It'll be interesting to see how Luton cope without them, and whether the loan players were the reason for them performing so well.
Barton is "worth" 1.2M, and so much for Newcastle's interest in him. Aside from making two comments in the media, no offer was received, and now they are not listed as parties whom are interested. I'm about to offer him to market again to see whether there are any other potential (rich would be helpful) suitors out there for him.
1 May 21
We went to Don Valley Stadium to play Rotherham, who were a mid level club, before the awards for the month were broadcast, certainly before the financials were released. With all my first choice players save Rios available, I wanted to experiment with a high tempo game to see whether the stamina levels of the players could cope – certainly the pace of the game in the Championship is going to be played at a higher intensity that what had been experienced here in League One.
I’d also revved up both starting strikers, putting them on notice that they must take every opportunity to make a goal scoring opportunity. I’m not sure that Barton particularly was impressed, having carried the responsibility for the bulk of the scoring for the team this year. The other problem I have with him is that although he doesn’t want to extend his contract unless we pay through the nose for his services, he is incredibly loyal and doesn’t really want to be sold off to play elsewhere. To be fair, the only reason I need to sell him is to get his salary off the books. Cashing him out now, while he still has time on his contract, and is at the peak of his goal scoring prowess just makes economic sense. An EPL club pays 6M and clauses, we are more than happy, he scores 25 goals for them in a season and they will also believe they got a bargain.
It didn’t take long for our newer, high speed approach to pay dividends! Barton ran with the ball from the halfway line, which played to Binks, who ran cross field, but set Barton up perfectly for a through ball to slot home. Ten minutes gone and 1-0 up.
Minutes later, Binks and Barton again played the one two, before Barton smashed the ball into the back of the net. Anyone would think these two strikers have a point to prove!
At the twenty minute mark, Townsend stole a set piece play from Rotterham with a couple of strong tackles, which set Binks haring off down the left touch line. Cutting inside to the penalty box, he was bought crashing down by central defender Sam Porter, who was yellow, carded. Barton stepped up and slotted home the penalty for yet another hat trick.
An embarrassing own goal for Rotherham’s other Central Defender, Steve Rowlands, made it 4-0 and highly embarrassing for the home crowd. The goal came about via a set piece taken by Goretich, playing the one-two with that Barton character, to float a pass to left winger Carson, who was positioned in front of the opposing goal. Carson kicked with power, and it flew through the defense into the net.
The rest of the half was spent absorbing pressure from each other, and a couple of chances were created. Rotterham had to replace two players due to injuries before half time was called, but half time was called with the score remaining 4-0.
The players had seemed to adapt well to playing the game at a higher speed, and the talk I had with my strikers doesn’t appear to have done them any lasting harm either.
Soon after the break, Barton was able to break the line to put Binks into space to score to make it 5-0. Barton is having an absolutely smashing game, he is getting involved and he is taking his shots well and making possession count.
Barton, Townsend and Simm all had chances which they couldn’t convert, and this high tempo game was seeming to involve giving the ball some air and having chasers run on to it.
Late in the piece, disaster struck for Rotterham, right defender McKenzie was sent from the field directly for a cynical challenge on that man Barton again as he was making a beeline for the penalty box and going head to head with the goalkeeper.
Knowing there was now a gap in the field, I instructed the team to work the gap, and the final goal was a powerfully struck shot from Binks, which worked its way quickly through the defensive line, to the midfield and on to him who executed the perfect power shot just before the final hooter. Final score was a 6-0 win and I think everyone would have been worked to a standstill, but oh what a spectacle!!!
This is one of those good news, bad news situations. I've always been one to take the bad news first, so here is it:
For the month of April, Derby managed to lose the small amount of 522K!!!!
This is unacceptable and I really wish now I had moved all the deadwood off in January when I started. The Board approval rating is still fairly low, considering that the fortunes of the club have been turned around quite markedly. From a mid table (9th) start in January, to running second now with the best goal differential in the league, and still a remote possibility to finish top. Simply put, I am disappointed with the wage structure that was approved and implemented prior to my arrival, I just might end up carrying the can for it...especially when you take into account my wish to offload Stevenson, but my unwillingness to subsidise, and then wanting to improve the finances by selling off the best striker the club has ever had....little wonder my Board approval rating is rubbish.
The good news:
I was voted the Manager of the Month;
Players of the Month: Carson (Derby) Goretich (Derby) and Barton (Derby). Did I tell you how good my wingers are?
Young players of the month: Benchenaa (Derby) Goretich (Derby) and Holmes (Derby)
Alan Shearer at Wolves is now saying nice things about Barton in the media, but as before...show me the money!!
The other aspect which is now concerning me, Barton is playing so well that is adored by our fan base. I risk upsetting the fans when I sell him.
And my bad luck just keeps coming.
The title race is still a two horse race, with that point separating Luton and Derby.
So we both have 3pm dates with destiny, ours with third placed Charlton, theirs with seventh, and out of the promotion running, placed Ipswich.
Add to that that Binks, the striker who helped demolish Rotterham, has just developed a back strain. I have always been one to let the physio (or specialist) over injections take care of injuries, so he has been ruled out of the most important game of the season. Tummiolo will take his place, bench to be decided.
Carson has also suffered a chest injury. Two weeks on the sideline. Baldini will now start.
8 May 21
We did what we had to do. Unfortunately for us, so did Luton. Luton finish Champions, and we are runners up. A disappointing end to the season, but we as a team could not have done any more than we did, so from that view point, we should be pleased with what we have accomplished in the short space of time.
We sold out our stadium for the first time this season. 33,010 screaming fans.
Two of my best players were out injured, replaced by adequate cover. Badini (replacing Carson) has been useful, as he can play both sides of the pitch. Bit on the small side for my liking at 162cm, so that isn’t even 5’4’’, but very quick, and as I have said previously, when he is free from your parent club, you don’t quibble. Not sure I’d angle for an approach on him though. Tummiolo still has a lot to learn but will grow from the experiences he had had this year.
Holmes was injured early in our final match, but there was no way he was going to let himself be substituted. Running off the injury, he was back on the pitch in no time. Barton, Goretich and Narravo were busy down the right flank before Barton saw an opportunity and the ball fizzed into the back of the net from a distance. The well worked move began with Goretich claiming possession, and pin point passing between Goretich, Narravo, and Holmes seemed to confuse the Charlton defense. Goretich attempted a flat drive towards the goal, but it was blocked. Barton leapt on the rebound, and effective chipped it over the ‘keepers shoulder. He moved to 49 goals for the season, and advantage to Derby 1-0.
Barton and Tummiolo then had chances to extend the lead but managed to put them wide, or have them plucked out of the air, before a mid field cross by Tummiolo fell to Goretich, only for the opposing left defender to deflect it into the net. 2-0 after 33 minutes and looking comfortable.
Tummiolo and Simm had chances before the break, which again, they couldn’t capitalise on. John Vernon also blew an excellent opportunity just before the half time whistle to pull one back for Charlton. Simm tackled and pushed him out of bounds, which allowed Arregi to claim the ball.
Investing in defense paid off after the break, with Charlton having possession, but not being able to find a way through, with Benchenaa and Navarro creating problems. Our injury problems were compounded early in the second half; not only was Navarro penalized for a trip on striker Andrews, but he also had to leave the field with suspected fractured ribs and could spend eight weeks recovering. Pochet replaced him.
Barton has a golden opportunity to score goal fifty for the season, but the ball banged into the net.
Badini then proved his worth to the cause by disposing a Charlton defender, pinning back his ears and organizing a magnificent cross to Holmes to drive into the net. 3-0 and making the game look easy.
The rest of the game hinged on Goretich and Tummiolo coming close to scoring (again!) but not, and Derby’s defensive line, due to fine work by Benchenaa and Simm, holding. End result 3-0 win
It wasn’t enough to claim outright champions status from Luton, who handed a 4-1 lesson to seventh placed Ipswich, which highlighted the difference in class between those staying in League One, and those who may move on up.
Charlton, MK Dons, Rochdale and Crystal Palace now complete for promotion, while at the other end of the spectrum, Shrewbury, Crawley, Forest Green and Barnsley take the plunge and adjust to life in League Two.
9 May 21
The squad had been sent on leave, told to rest up and come back prepared for battle in late June. For me, the preparation for the Championship had already started, new targets, players coming off contract in late June, speaking with agents and pressing the flesh.
I’d being concerned that the Board approval levels weren’t where I would have wanted them to be, but I told myself, that without a successful cup run and only being able to work through the League, it was the best I could hope for. I’d managed to assemble a talented roster of players and hard working and dedicated back room staff. The aim now was to build on that.
The finances were in bad shape, and we were still losing money. It took a lot to convince myself that the end was in sight, and indeed it was, most of the highly paid dead wood was leaving the club this time next month, we had one retirement party to attend, the U-18 squad could leave without terribly much fanfare, and only a couple of minor players were leaving on free transfers. Still, there was a gnawing feeling about Barton, and to a lesser extend Stevenson, wanting huge bonuses and salaries when the club couldn’t afford to sustain wage payments of that size and continue to be a viable proposition long term. Yes, I know Barton is a class player, all the more reason why he should want to leave. He is capable of playing EPL football. Will he still have the same hunger when Derby enter the Premiership, or will he just be an aging thirty year old, who can only give me the last twenty minutes of a game?
I was assessing the failings of my negotiations with Stevenson and attempting to understand why he would not accept a lower paid contract, or a player coach arrangement, when my phone rang. Kevin Parkinson, the Chairman of the Board wanted to see me. I thought it would be to offer congratulations on the promotion to the Championship.
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