The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

ANY­ONE who thought Yeovil Town man­ager Dar­ren Way would panic af­ter a tough start to the sea­son re­ally should have known bet­ter.

This is, af­ter all, a man who fought back to health with real de­ter­mi­na­tion af­ter a se­ri­ous road traf­fic ac­ci­dent in 2008 left him with mul­ti­ple bro­ken bones.

Then, last De­cem­ber, he took the reins at Yeovil Town when the club were bot­tom of the ta­ble and turned their for­tunes around in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion to pre­serve their Foot­ball League sta­tus.

An iffy open­ing to the cam­paign, which saw them in the rel­e­ga­tion places ahead of yes­ter­day, was there­fore hardly enough to get him wor­ried.

And Way be­lieves the test­ing open­ing to this sea­son will, ul­ti­mately, make him a bet­ter man­ager.

“Last year, no-one wanted to take the job. It was a bit of a crazy de­ci­sion from me, but I’m very proud to have kept us in the League,” said the for­mer Yeovil and Swansea mid­fielder.

“I stood the test and was bold and brave enough to do a job when oth­ers wouldn’t have put them­selves in that po­si­tion.

“It’s been a great jour­ney and now I’m learn­ing from a bit of ad­ver­sity.


“It’s how you do it that’s im­por­tant. You be­come suc­cess­ful through suc­cess and fail­ure – that’s how you de­velop.” The 36-year-old is adamant that Yeovil will soon turn their for­tunes around. “It’s im­por­tant I don’t panic and I con­tinue with the same prin­ci­ples as last year,” he said. “One or two wins and we are in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion. “We have had a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in­jured who will be com­ing back and the boys are con­fi­dent we’ll turn it around.” Af­ter the Glovers’ ex­cel­lent form in the sec­ond half of last sea­son, they looked like they were back in the groove in the open­ing week.

They beat Notts County 2-0 at home in their League Two cur­tain-raiser and then tri­umphed by the same score at League One side Wal­sall in the EFL Cup first round three days later.

A cred­itable 1-1 draw at Lu­ton rounded things off.

But, af­ter that, there were six de­feats in seven games in all com­pe­ti­tions, punc­tured only by a 4-3 vic­tory against Portsmouth in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy.


One rea­son why their form tailed off was un­doubt­edly a pun­ish­ing sched­ule of eight games in Au­gust, in­clud­ing a 4-0 de­feat at Premier League Ever­ton in the EFL Cup sec­ond round.

Way said: “Play­ing Ever­ton at Good­i­son Park was a great ex­pe­ri­ence, but it took a lot out of the play­ers, es­pe­cially the younger ones.

“Portsmouth changed their XI against us in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy, but we couldn’t do that.

“It was a test­ing open­ing month. I have never ex­pe­ri­enced so many games as a player, coach or man­ager.”

Yeovil chair­man John Fry has backed his man­ager to turn for­tunes around but is ea­ger for wins to push the club into the top half of League Two and, as a con­se­quence, boost at­ten­dances.

Way is con­vinced he re­mains the right man to do just that.

“When things are go­ing against you, you stick to­gether, stay strong and get through the hard times,” he said.

“Peo­ple over-ex­ag­ger­ate things. Ev­ery­one wants to win and ev­ery­one re­acts a bit dif­fer­ently, but when you are the man­ager you put your head over the para­pet, stay strong and be­lieve you can turn it around.

“I’m try­ing to build a foot­ball club to be proud of and it’s not go­ing to take six weeks or six months.

“It’s go­ing to take pa­tience to get us back to where we want to be.”

TRY­ING to work out what’s wrong with Derby is like try­ing to solve a Ru­bik’s Cube. Just as you think you’ve cracked it, a new prob­lem ap­pears and you’re back to square one.

Once, they couldn’t keep the back door shut. Then, they cracked un­der pres­sure. Now, the is­sue seems to be scor­ing goals. The Rams have man­aged only one this sea­son, which is mind-bog­gling when you con­sider the tal­ent in their squad.

Will Matej Vy­dra – an £8m sign­ing from Wat­ford (inset)– ad­dress that is­sue? I don’t think so. Yes, the Czech is a for­mer Cham­pi­onship player of the year, whose record of 38 goals in 92 games for the Hor­nets de­serves re­spect.

But those goals all came play­ing off Troy Deeney. At West Brom, and at Read­ing last year, he flopped badly. The 24-year-old has had only one gen­uinely pro­lific sea­son and that was four years ago. He is no sure thing. Dar­ren Bent hasn’t been a reg­u­lar scorer for years. James Wil­son, another dead­line-day sign­ing on loan from Man United, is to­tally untested. Then, there’s Nick Black­man, a walk­ing il­lus­tra­tion of the per­ils of buy­ing a player based on a pur­ple patch. Prior to scor­ing 13 goals for Read­ing in the first half of last sea­son, the 26-year-old had reached dou­ble fig­ures only once in his ca­reer, yet Paul Cle­ment paid £3m for him. Crazy.

It re­minds me of all the fuss around Hal Rob­son-Kanu. He scored one great goal in the Eu­ros and ev­ery­one said ‘Wow, why has no­body signed him?’ But, if you look at his record over the last few years, he hasn’t ac­tu­ally done that much.

Per­son­ally, I don’t see any­one who’ll get you ten goals a sea­son, which makes the de­par­ture of Chris Martin to Ful­ham all the more baf­fling.

For me, though, the lack of goals is ac­tu­ally a symp­tom of a deeper prob­lem. Derby sim­ply don’t have enough lead­ers.

When Nigel Pear­son’s men fell be­hind against Ip­swich in mid­week, there was no re­ac­tion. No pas­sion. No anger. You can have all the tal­ent in the world, but it isn’t enough with­out a bit of fight.

How many times did Joey Bar­ton drag Burn­ley through games last year? How many come­backs did he spark?


When things are go­ing wrong, I’ve been in dress­ing rooms where ev­ery­thing goes quiet and no­body re­ally says any­thing. It’s a recipe for dis­as­ter.

What you need are peo­ple who’ll stand up, point fin­gers and dig peo­ple out. ‘You know what, you should be do­ing bet­ter. You’re not track­ing back enough. Your fi­nal ball needs to be bet­ter’. Look­ing back to my Brighton days, I had Tommy El­ph­ick, who’s now cap­tain of As­ton Villa. I had Nicky Forster, Glenn Mur­ray, Nathan Jones. Big char­ac­ters, strong per­son­al­i­ties. They’d all do that. Does Nigel Pear­son have men like that to rely on? I don’t think so.

In fair­ness, they do have lead­ers at the back. Richard Keogh, Ja­son Shack­ell, Ge­orge Thorne. But you need five or six of them, not one or two.

Up front, they’ve got none. The strik­ers I’ve al­ready de­scribed. Tom Ince blows hot and cold, as does Will Hughes. Bradley John­son, a player I know from Brighton, isn’t a leader.

There’s no­body there who’ll take a game by the scruff of the neck and says ‘Right, it might be ugly, but we’re win­ning this’.

The qual­ity is there. If you look at their team – or their squad for that mat­ter – I don’t think there’d be many play­ers who would not walk into another Cham­pi­onship side.

What’s miss­ing is the ruth­less­ness, de­sire and bloody-minded de­ter­mi­na­tion to bat­tle through tough games.

That’s what lead­ers give you. That’s what Derby lack.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

STILL LEARN­ING: Yeovil man­ager Dar­ren Way and, inset, chair­man John Fry

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