The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

WANT to know why Derby will win pro­mo­tion this sea­son? Go and watch New­cas­tle.

Steve McClaren’s Mag­pies are a right sham­bles, ship­ping goals from all an­gles, be­ing caught on the counter, los­ing run­ners and get­ting drubbed.

Partly that’s down to a des­per­ate lack of de­cent de­fend­ers, yet a sys­tem that leaves them ex­posed hardly helps either. Just ask Rams fans.

McClaren loves to en­ter­tain, to flood for­ward, to go for the jugu­lar. Spir­i­tu­ally, he’s un­changed from the guy who played five up front at Mid­dles­brough. It’s great to watch but, un­for­tu­nately, the gaps left at the back yawn wider than a tired whale.

So good were Derby’s play­ers that, for a while, he got away with it. But, even­tu­ally, their wretched lack of shape caused to­tal col­lapse. His bril­liant but brit­tle side twice blew pro­mo­tion.

Meaner and more solid – if slightly less ad­ven­tur­ous – un­der Paul Cle­ment, it’s hard to see what can stop the Cham-pi­o­nship’s best squad.

With Chris Martin back in the groove and an ex­pe­ri­enced spine mind­ing the back door, I’ll be very sur­prised if they aren’t top two by Christ­mas. And as for their old gaffer, well… they can give him a wave on the way past in May.

OPEN: Steve McClaren

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