OPINION: Lack of signings at Derby County isn't a bad thing
It's been a slow start to Frank Lampard's reign as Derby County manager thus far, with the former Champions League winner not making a single on-field signing since joining the club in May.
This is down to a number of factors, one being Lampard’s World Cup commitments for the BBC, although he was spotted at an England U-21 game with assistant boss Jody Morris, presumably scouting for new players.
The second and more obvious reason seems to be the fact that Lampard is wanting to see all his players in training before making any decisions on which players leave the club, and which players are going to join the club, apart from Andreas Weimann who has left the club for £2m heading for Bristol City.
So, with it being mid-July, and the Rams haven’t made a single signing yet, is this a bad thing? In a word, No. In fact it’s a positive sign in my opinion.
So why is this a positive sign for the club, when local rival’s Nottingham Forest have made a number of signings, spending over £18m.
Simple, there isn’t a rush, not literally of course, better we didn’t mention him! Derby still have on paper, one of the best and biggest squads in the Championship. Before you say it, I know football isn’t played on paper, but you catch my drift.
In terms of squad size, Lampard still has 26 first team players to choose from, so we hardly lack depth across the squad.
Every position is covered, and there isn’t a lack of depth anywhere across the field. The key proviso for the manager is to make the correct changes to the squad and not rush into any signings like seasons gone by.
Derby have traditionally been a club fighting for promotion since 2013-14 season, but have made monumental mistakes in transfer windows gone by, splashing out millions of pounds in search of the promotion dream, which still hasn’t come to fruition.
Come the mid-point of July 2017, the Rams had already moved on 4 players, Will Hughes, Tom Ince, Abdoul Camara and Cyrus Christie. In turn, they had bought in 3 players, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone and Andre Wisdom, 3 key players in the 2017-18 season.
The problem with last season, we let Ince and Hughes go without ever replacing them, thinking more of money and FFP than our on field interests.
The fears of FFP have been coming to the fore in the last few summers, with chairman and owner Mel Morris cutting back on investment, after spending millions on the likes of Jacob Butterfield, Bradley Johnson, Nick Blackman and countless other players, and the football club not moving on any further on the field, whilst the wage bill ballooned to approximately £35m per year.
What Frank Lampard, Jody Morris and Mel Morris need to do, is simultaneously agree what the aim is this season, who are the better players in the squad, and who they are going to bring into the club, before rushing into any dealings.
Fans traditionally love a transfer window, giving them excitement in what is usually a boring few months for football fans, this summer is different though. Most clubs are behind in recruitment, and fans don’t seem worried, being carried away in the euphoria of Englands spectacular World Cup run.
I like the fact Lampard is giving all players a chance, even the likes of Jacob Butterfield who has struggled to win over Rams fans, Chris Martin who has flattered to deceive in recent seasons for Derby and Nick Blackman who has never got his Derby County career off the ground.
Why not give these players another chance? It could save us a lot of money in the transfer window, and these players have clearly got ability, we all know what Martin is capable of, and Huddersfield and Middlesbrough fans raved about Jacob Butterfield.
We do look set to lose 2-time player of the year Craig Bryson to Premier League new boys Cardiff City, but lets be honest, as much as we all love and want to keep Bryson at Pride Park, nobody can begrudge him his chance at the big time with the Bluebirds. Even so, Derby still look to have a strong foundation to build on.
Then we look at Jody Morris’ influence at Derby. The Rams look set to re-sign former loaner Kasey Palmer from Morris’ and Lampard’s former club Chelsea, whether on loan or permanent is yet to be seen, but this is a great move.
Derby fans were big admirers of the young Chelsea startled, despite his lack of game time under former manager Gary Rowett.
The Rams have also been linked with Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, again on loan from Chelsea.
All of these three players would be sterling additions to the Rams squad, and I am positive at least two of the Chelsea youngsters will join the club this summer, again giving Derby fans cause for optimism for the coming season.
We need to air on the side of caution, and believe in what the manager and his new team will do this season.
It’s a learning curve for all involved, but an exciting one at that, lets not rush things, make the right decisions and the results will come.