Article by @Rasmswriter

Derby County’s pre season has come to an end and they are only 5 days away from their opening game of the 2018/2019 season.

Here is my review of the pre season.

Derby ended the 2017/2018 season with a loss in the play off semi finals against Fulham. It had been Gary Rowett’s first full season in charge of the Rams and to end up in the play offs could be deemed as some sort of success.

However, a little over a week later Rowett decided he didn’t want his “dream job” anymore and left for newly relegated Stoke City. A decision that left Derby fans angered.

With Rowett leaving, it begged the question, who would take over at Derby? Many names were thrown about, including the likes of former Ram’s Igor Stimac and Paul Simpson. This wasn’t the case, as the man that would lead Derby would be Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard. Anybody who knows football knows how good Lampard was a footballer, but he has never managed before. Could Lampard really be the man to take Derby to the Premier League?

Lampard brought in Jody Morris as his assistant. Shortly followed by Shay Given, Chris Jones and Steve Rands. All who are highly rated coaches. Lampard promised to bring his own brand off football to Derby, which would be fast, aggressive, high tempo football, both with and without the ball. He also vowed to bring in youngsters and promote youth team players.

It all sounded very exciting, but could he deliver. Derby’s first friendly against Notts County was fast approaching and with Andi Weimann moving to Bristol City, fans were hoping for new signings to be brought in.

This wasn’t the case; Derby travelled to Meadow Lane and emphatically thumped Notts County 4-1. Derby set up in a 433 formation and there was stand out performances from academy products; right back Jayden Bogle, right winger Luke Thomas and striker Mason Bennett. Luke Thomas a player who is highly rated introduced himself to Derby fans by scoring himself a brace. Mason Bennett also got himself on the score sheet.

Derby travelled to Mansfield 3 days later, but couldn’t break the deadlock after a dominant first half performance. As in usual in pre season there was 11 changes in the second half. The second half performance was very lacklustre and Derby lost 3-1. A positive from the game was youngster Mason Bennett again finding the net.

Derby finally made their first transfers of the season. Lampard managed to secure loan deal for two absolute gems. Mason Mount from Chelsea and Harry Wilson from Liverpool. Both young highly rated players. With these two signings fans could see the effect of having someone with the stature of Lampard as manager. Fans like to call it the #LampardEffect.

A couple of days later, Lampard made his first permanent signing. Florian Jozefzoon joined from Brentford for around 2.5 million.

Derby’s next game would be their first on home soil. Pride Park was the venue and Premier League Southampton was the opposition. Both Mount and Wilson started this game, but it was Max Lowe and Tom Lawrence who took the headlines. Both players dominated the game with great running and lovely link up play. Lawrence scored a brace and Mason Bennett got his third goal of pre season as Derby ran out 3-0 winners.

Derby then travelled to Nuneaton in midweek, where they faced Coventry City. Derby won 1-0 with Bradley Johnson scoring a bullet header, after some fine work and a peach of a cross from Andre Wisdom. Tom Lawrence could of doubled Derby’s lead midway through the second half but he saw his penalty saved. Another young Ram impressed at Coventry; 16 year old Louie Sibley. The central midfielder was confident, strong and hard working. He did not look out of place in his first appearance with a senior squad.

Following the Coventry game, Derby then secured there fourth signing of the season. Peterborough’s golden boot winner Jack Marriott. Marriott is another player who was the interest of many clubs including rivals Nottingham Forest. Ultimately Marriott chose Derby. Marriott scored 33 goals for League one Peterborough last season and feels confident he can step up to the Championship.

Derby’s final pre season game would be at Pride Park and their opponents would be new promoted Wolves. Wolves beat Derby twice last season, and have recruited well this season. They have signed big names including Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho, so this would be a tough test for the Rams.

David Nugent gave Derby the lead shortly before the break. He was their to tap in after Richard Keogh hit the post. Ruben Neves forced Scott Carson in to a top class save, but unfortunately the ball rebounded straight to Diogo Jota who slotted home for the equaliser. Derby hadn’t finished though. Jozefzoon picked up the ball on the right, used his pace to round the full back, floated a fantastic ball to the back post, Nugent rose highest and nodded it down to Mount, he took a touch to control it and then hammered it in to the onion bag from 6 yards to give Derby a 2-1 victory.

That concluded the pre season friendlies. It has definitely been a successful pre season. Derby’s style of play is totally different to what was witnessed last season. The dull, slow pace football has been changed in to fast, high tempo, high press, exciting, attacking football. Lampard has made Derby look a totally different team. He has put belief back in the fans. He has brought in youth and pace to a slow ageing squad.

Derby’s squad is still bloated as they are struggling to ship players out. Matej Vydra seems like the only possible outgoing that is likely

A face that fans are happy to see return is Craig Bryson. He has come back from his loan spell at Cardiff and has been like a new signing. He brings so much energy to the midfield. Tom Lawrence has also been a different player to the player that we saw at Derby last season. He has his confidence back to run at players and is doing it successfully. Under 23 players such as; Luke Thomas, Mason Bennett, Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle have integrated themselves well in to the senior squad and will certainly give Lampard a selection headache.

All in all, it has been a great pre season and I can see Derby taking this form to Reading on August 3rd. I believe Derby are going to be difficult to beat this year and are going to be one of the teams pushing for promotion next season. Derby now have some attacking flair and will score plenty of goals next season. They will be one of the most entertaining teams in the league and very exciting to watch.

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