Paul Clement’s decision to swap the Bernabeu for Pride Park this summer was seen as a veritable coup for Derby County, with fans, pundits and chairman Mel Morris sure the highly-rated coach’s arrival would be the boost required to get the Rams back in to the Premier League.
After it didn’t quite work out hiring a former England manager (Steve McClaren) and before that the son of a club legend (Nigel Clough), Derby have high hopes that their latest managerial punt will bring them more success.
Unfortunately for Carlo Ancelotti’s former assistant, Clement is still searching for his first win as a number one.
Derby lie 19th in the Championship with four draws and one loss from their first five league games, while their League Cup campaign for the season ended at Fratton Park at the first time of asking, going down 2-1 to League Two Portsmouth.
So it’s fair to say there’s nothing Galactico about Derby’s performances just yet.
Somewhat surprisingly, for a side who had no problems finding the back of the net in finishing eighth last season (their total of 85 goals was the division’s fourth highest, and would surely have been higher had top scorer Chris Martin not been injured in the closing stages of the season), Derby have managed only four goals this season. Only three of the bottom four have returned fewer.
The good news is that with the transfer window now closed the number of under-used and unhappy Premier League players will only grow, opening the door to Championship sides for attractive loan deals.
One such player in demand is Manchester United’s James Wilson. The 19-year-old remains highly-rated at Old Trafford, but with the big-money signing of Anthony Martial joining Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay and with Louis van Gaal expected to see Marouane Fellaini in more of an attacking light this season, Wilson’s opportunities are restricted at an age where he needs regular football.
It leaves a loan deal as the likeliest option for Wilson, with reports that up to 20 clubs have registered their interest in the striker who has three senior goals in 14 appearances at United.
As Chelsea’s Patrick Bamford showed last season when notching 17 goals in Middlesbrough’s ultimately doomed promotion push, young hungry strikers like Wilson can thrive in the Championship.
Boro may no longer have Bamford to choose from this season, but as the 10/11 favourites to seal promotion, the forward’s prolific impact certainly set Aitor Karanka’s men on a steady footing for future success.
Clement’s problem may be convincing Wilson’s parent club that, with attacking talent such as Darren Bent, Chris Martin, Johnny Russell and Andrea Weimann already on the books, he intends to start Wilson on a regular basis at Pride Park.
Given that Martin is 10/1 third favourite to finish as the Championship’s top scorer, and Bent (20/1) and two-goal Russell (33/1) not too far behind, that might not be the easiest task for the new Derby manager.
But should he succeed in persuading both United and Wilson to agree to the move, with the season still in its infancy and Derby only two wins from a play-off spot, their odds of 3/1 to win promotion will surely shorten, along with the 12/1 on them finishing as league champions.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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