And it begins with the EPL

Derby County

Manager: Billy Davies

Ground: Pride Park Stadium, Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8XL

Capacity: 33,597

Pitch size: 110 yards x 72 yards

Year formed: 1884 (founder members of the Football League in 1888)

Previous grounds: 1884 – Racecourse Ground; 1895 – Baseball Ground; 1997 – Pride Park Stadium

Nickname: The Rams

Team Grades

Strikers: C-

Midfield: C

Defense: C+

Goal Keeping: C+

Derby is where I’m starting. They are a newly promoted club, which is usually a bit of a hurdle. As Reading showed last season teams can do well in their first season in the top flight. Derby is going to be an interesting player in the coming season. With their Manager Billy Davies at the helm Derby should be able to match-up with the rest of the league on a tactical level. The way that the economy of the EPL is structured, which I know will be a great topic to get into later at some point in this blog, I think Derby is going to have a difficult time making a top ten finish. That having been said I think Derby should be able to stay up in the coming season.

Derby has some interesting players on their current roster. Its going to be exciting to see if they decided to add any more depth. With Davies attempted addition of Eddie Johnson this past week one has to wonder if the manager has requisite faith in his striking core. With the addition of Robert Earnshaw, current striker Steve Howard and a few other younger strikers the addition of Johnson would have been a huge move. While Johnson has been up and down over the past few seasons, he still has the ability to change the course of a match with his blistering pace. Johnson is lighting up the MLS this season, he’s had a few strong showings for the national team and would have been great depth for Derby if not an excellent option in the starting eleven. One has to question why Johnson turned down a chance to a) make Premiership money b) he could have taken his game to the next level playing in a much larger league then the MLS and c) Johnson is at a cross roads of his career and he needs to take his chances seriously and turning down a chance to play at such a large stage might be foolish-who knows maybe Johnson’s agent is talking to other clubs with a larger profile then Derby. That being said I think that Derby has two strong strikers and a handful of unknown strikers that have the potential to shine. I won’t be surprised if Derby looks to add another pacy striker before the transfer window closes.

Derby has some strong midfielders most notably Giles Barnes. Barnes is only 18 and this past season he was voted young player of the year by the Derby supporters club. Barnes signed a four year deal this past year and he figures to be a star on this Derby team. Derby also has some decent depth with solid veteran leadership in the midfield. Matthew Oakley is back to captain the team through the 2007/2008 season. Oakley and Barnes are both skilled passers and possess the ability to move forward to link up with the strikers. I look for Derby to rely on both of these two players extensively over the coming season.

The back line at Derby might be the most interesting aspect of the team. They have strong veteran presences in Marc Edworthy, Michael Johnson and Mohammed Camara. Plus Derby has a wild card in Dean Leacock who was once tagged the “new Rio Ferdinand”. I am really excited to see how Derby defends against all of the pace they are bound to see in the coming season. Add in Derby’s recent addition of Andy Todd and the back line could be one of the stronger aspects of Derby’s starting eleven.

Steven Bywater figures to be the starter in the nets. Bywater is only 26 and has looked fairly promising over the past three seasons. He is tall and possess the ability to cover all four corners of the net. Along with a veteran presence in front of him I think Bywater could help Derby pose a strong defense.

With Derby’s defense looking to be of decent strength I think it seems important for Derby to find some outside attack in the coming season. Not having watched any of Derby’s pre-season scrimmages it will be interesting to see how Davies lines the boys up. I am looking forward to some competitive matches out of Derby in the coming season. With a lack of striking depth I look for Derby to land around twelve to fifteen in the coming season. If Derby falters in the coming season it won’t be for a lack of trying seeing as Derby have already added seven new faces to the rolls. I still question whether or not all of the players on Derby’s roster are of Premier ship caliber. There are a number of players who should be hungry to prove that they and Derby County belong in the top flight.

More to come during the week as I profile the rest of the EPL until then…

Mr. Super Roll

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