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Preview: Derby V Forest

No biggie. Just another bonkers meeting between two bonkers East Midlands clubs. Time to dial up Ollie Wright of Derby County Blog to find out what just what in tarnation is going on down the A52.

Daniel Smith/Getty Images

It really is difficult to know where to start with this one.  Both our beloved clubs are making a right old pig's ear of things at the moment. Frankly, I'm struggling to keep up. So Darren Wassall is just about still there and Harry Redknapp has got his feet under the table? That about right for this week?

Wassall will remain in his interim post until the end of the season, with Redknapp coming in as an 'advisor'.

It's been a busy week and we're struggling to keep up. Can you give us a quick reminder as to where you're at?

In a nutshell, after Wassall made a complete tit of himself at Rotherham, I assumed it was the cue for Mel Morris to curtail his Wassall experiment.  Certainly, at least something had to be done before Forest.  Mel's decision - which, let's face it, came somewhat out of leftfield - was to parachute in Redknapp, doubtless for an eye-watering fee.  He will appear at the iPro to take the heat off Wassall on Saturday, before jetting directly off to Jordan, to help out another friend in need - Prince Ali.  He likes this commission, he likes that commission.

Care to elaborate on the whole Paul Clement thing?  Or is it just riddle wrapped in a puzzle inside an enigma?

I liked Clement and think he deserved more of an opportunity.  What I find saddest about the whole mess is that the fans were reduced to gossiping and guessing about 'the real reasons' for the sacking, which must have been something going on 'behind the scenes'.  That was because the decision was so difficult to justify for football reasons.

We were doing OK.  It wasn't perfect by any means and there were a few decidedly milky performances (not least at your place).  But Clement was in his first job and as far as we know, he never went crying to Morris for somebody like Redknapp to hold his hand - and he only lost five of his 30 league games.

I think Clement could go on to do well elsewhere and I wish him all the best.  If he doesn't rejoin Carlo Ancelotti's staff, perhaps he'll try a head coaching role abroad.

You've pushed the boat out big time this season, which was very unlike the previously tight fisted and cautious Derby County approach to spending. Simply put, is it working? Are they the right players? Do they just need a decent manager to give them the right platform on which to perform?

That was a point of view I heard expressed more than once before Clement left - "we're doing well just because the squad is so strong, it's nothing to do with the coach."  But I think those that weren't fussed about Clement leaving assumed that somebody would instantly replace him with more experience and stature, rather than a novice from within the club. The club badly needs a manager with the leadership qualities to soak up the enhanced expectations, unify everyone and achieve the ultimate goal, which is promotion.

The Redknapp thing is just a fudge to keep Wassall going for a bit longer.  Why?  I can only speculate (which is also the case when trying to explain the Clement decision). I suspect Morris still believes that Wassall could be a candidate and wants to give him every chance. However, it's also entirely possible that he has somebody else in mind, who is not available until the summer.  The 'puzzle wrapped in an enigma' you mentioned is Morris - he is impossible to second guess.

Are they the right players?  I think there has been some poor recruitment in the past two seasons.  Of the 11 players signed this year, I'd argue that only three would definitely get into our strongest team (Carson, Shackell and Ince).  Four, maybe five of the starters for Saturday will have been with Derby since Nigel Clough's time - and that's not counting Will Hughes and Craig Forsyth, who are both injured.

How does all this make you feel as a fan? Lost any love for the club and the game in general? It's tough this Championship fan malarkey in the East Midlands isn't it?

I do feel alienated from the club, in the sense that it feels like it belongs to Morris now and Morris alone.  I have no doubt that he genuinely loves Derby - and he has wisely invested huge sums into the club's infrastructure, as well as funding new players - but the bizarre managerial shenanigans have been very unsettling for everyone and I can't help but worry about the short and long-term future of the club, as a result.

Reading that, maybe we have more in common than we dare to contemplate at this very moment…

Having said that, I'm also busy making plans to watch us play at Charlton with mates next month...  "That's football" (I can never remember who said that).  We'll always love our clubs, as long as there is a club left to love.  But they don't half make it difficult sometimes.

Too true. The game: there's going to be new records for niggly fouls and yellow cards isn't there?

Yeah, that has to be a worry - there is every chance of things turning ugly.  I suspect the Redknapp talks came about because Derby were seriously concerned that Wassall simply would not be able to handle the occasion on his own.  In a febrile atmosphere, experience is vital.

Finally, fancy sacking it all off and organising a kickabout in the park? I'll get 11 lads wearing a Forest top, you get 11 lads wearing a Derby top and we'll get a Burton lad to ref. Just fans playing a game of football for the enjoyment of the game without all the other shit that comes with being a fan at the moment.

Great idea.  It'll have to be an early kick-off, though, on police advice... Shall I book G4S, to do the stewarding?

G4S would only go and muck it up. Let’s sort it ourselves. Next year? Who’s in?


Serious about the Forest/Derby fan game by the way.  Mull it over. In the meantime, thanks to Olli for raising his head over the parapet and providing this excellent insight into the current goings-on at Derby.