After presumably tapping up the Coventry management, after the game of course, for any useful tips on how to avoid the drop after all their experience over the last 30 years, what better team to follow them at the Valley than Derby County. For with the Addicks homing in on our club record of 16 games without a win ( dating back to 1955) who better than the Rams to show the way as regards records that nobody wants. Last season, if you remember, the Rams were pretty hopeless at winning games.
So at this point it wouldn't be right unless we took the opportunity to enjoy ourselves a little bit by reminding everyone of Derby's recent enthusiasm in breaking as many records in that department as possible. County became the first club to be relegated from the Premier League in March, recorded the Premier League's lowest-ever points total with just 11 and equalled Loughborough's 108-year Football League record of going through an entire season with only one win. They finished a massive 76 points behind the champions of the Premier with a goal difference of minus 69.
Derby's match at home to Sheffield United on 13 September 2008 was eagerly awaited as it was approaching a year since Derby's last league win, a run which saw the club also break the English league record for most matches without a win, which I believe now stands to Derby at 36 games. And its a timely reminder of the feeling ex-players have for their old club that, just four days short of the anniversary of the 1-0 win over Newcastle, former Blades player Rob Hulse scored against his former club as Derby ran out 2-1 winners, earning Paul Jewell his first league win as Derby boss at his 27th attempt.
So it only remains for Parky to hope that the Directors have as much faith in him as obviously his Derby counterparts had in Paul Jewell, although he's only safe until the 31st apparently. If he had 27 games to get it right it would take Parky till the, highly appropriate, away fixture against none other than Derby County in April to get a League win.
And last season can show us something else as well regarding our own relegation issues, because after 21 games last season Preston were bottom on 18 - but finished in 17th - with QPR and Colchester on 20. But, of course, the crucial date is for some reason is held to be Christmas Day. On December 25th last year the bottom three were - Colchester, Scunthorpe and Leicester. All three went down. Preston had taken on Billy Irvine on the 20th November when they were 4th from bottom and his first game was a 2-0 home defeat by the Addicks. He would hit rock bottom before surging up the table.
Form Guide Mondays game promises to be a real humdinger, as it brings face to face the two worst teams in the fizzies on current form. You wouldn't need reminding that we've only two points to show from the last 8 games while the Rams have an equally pitiful 5 from 1 win and 3 draws. With only 2 wins to show from the last 11 games, Jewell will nevertheless point out that they were both handsome wins, 3-1 over Norwich and 3-0 over Sheff. Wednesday. But currently its three successive League defeats now for Derby ( ignoring the League Cup) and 4 straight away defeats at Reading 0-3, Ipswich 0-2, Burnley 0-3 and most recently, Wolves 0-3. All you will notice without a goal being scored.
Who They Got? The Rams have been having fun and games in the League Cup with 5 victories over Lincoln, Preston, Brighton, Leeds and last week an away win over Stoke City and have now reached the semis. And with 36 goals scored altogether they have strikers galore getting goals; Ellington on 7, Hulse and Villa on 6 and Green on 5. And to add the killer punch they now have Luke Varney. Judging from recent lineups he'll be sure to start alongside Hulse and knowing our luck is as likely as not to get a least one goal.
DangerMan! The man to watch out for this week is number 11 Rob Hulse. Already on 6 goals, the ex West Brom, Leeds and Sheff. U striker has been transferred on a regular basis in multi-million pound deals and joined the Rams in the summer for 1.75M. One of Dario Gradi products from Crewe, he left there in 2003 to join WBA just as Luke Varney arrived.
What's Their Secret? An inability to score away from home at the moment and the team with the fewest clean sheets in the fizzies, just 2 out of 21 games so conceding goals is something they do, with only Watford and ourselves conceding more. But, although there's only a couple of last seasons players still around, Jewell will know only too well what the mood in SE7 will be like and this will be their biggest advantage. For while we can only guess what the home dressing room will be like tonight, the Rams boss will know exactly whats going through our players minds and he will surely use that knowledge to get the upper hand, in much the same way that Chris Coleman did on Tuesday.
What're They saying? Coventry manager Chris Coleman:"We felt if we could keep them quiet, get on top and make them make mistakes then the fans would get on top of them. We played on the counter-attack and it worked. But it's hard walking off at the end. It's not a lack of hard work, things just aren't coming off for them."
And there's also news from the Board. Richard Murray clears the air with: "As there can be no changes to the squad until the transfer window it's our view to give Phil up until the end of the year. There will then be a strategic review of the position." So Parky has 4 more games to prove his worth - ironic then that that would give him 8 games in all, the same number than Les Reed had two years ago..
History Although only Sheff.Wed in the fizzies have spent more years in the top flight than Derby, its the Rams, of all the teams in the fizzies, that we have played most times of all - 72 League games no less. And it'll come as no surprise then to know that nobody in the fizzies has won more times at the Valley than Derby County - 14 times in all, one more than Wolves. Overall its close 28-27 to them with 17 draws.
Team News With the change in the dynamics apparently gone a bit flat, perhaps its time to insert a couple of young bloods into the team to shake things up a bit. Shelvey for instance in midfield and with the unfortunate injury to new recruit McEveley, one loanee place is up for grabs so there's room for young Waghorn to impress. So how about Todorov and Waghorn for a striker force with Moutaouakil and Youga on the flanks. Drop, sorry rest, one of Gillespie or Bouazza and keep three in midfield with Semedo and Bailey.
So Parky, thats:
Weaver; Moutaouakil, Hudson, Fortune, Youga; Gillespie, Semedo, Shelvey, Bailey; Todorov and Waghorn.
Prediction Whatever the team chosen, the most obvious conclusion is that this is going to be a defeat. There's simply no way that a team, after suffering a year without a win, are going to allow us to escape from enjoying more of the same. With the same sadism that the israelis show now towards the palestinians after their own horrendous experiences (sorry, shouldn't say that), Derby will enjoy making sure that someones else nose is being rubbed in it.
A 0-2 defeat with Varney and Hulse scoring seems about right unless they really want to turn nasty in which case it could be four or five. The only question is...will the boy celebrate? I'll leave it to you to decide.