Q&A With Derby County

  • August 07, 2015 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/86359

Craig Dawson answers our questions ahead of the 128th meeting between Bolton and Derby County at Macron Stadium.

Wanderers go into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw against Charlton Athletic in their final pre-season friendly, while the Rams were 3-1 winners at Burton Albion after a summer in which they tasted defeat just once.

In our latest edition of Q&A, Craig (@DawseDCFC) shares his views on ambitions of Premier League football under the new management of Paul Clement, which player could stand out over and above the big name signings, as well as which Wanderers men he expects to keep an eye on come Saturday afternoon.

Q: Derby start the season with a new man in charge at the iPro Stadium, after Paul Clement replaced Steve McClaren. How much do Rams supporters know about him and what are your expectations for the forthcoming campaign?

A: Our supporters know about Paul Clement from his time at Real Madrid, I imagine. He has a great CV coaching around the world and you don't coach at one of the biggest clubs in the world if you haven't got the knowledge or idea about football.

Yes, a lot of people will be a little wary of him at the start as it's his first job on his own but we've got to remember he is a coach. He's head coach at Derby so he's doing what he does best - coaching the game of football. We have a great backroom set up for the transfers, which has been more than proven with our summer signings.

As for my expectations this year - it was a massive shame to miss out last season. We all know there was a massive distraction but that's in the past and we move forward. This year for me is going to be a tough year. I don't see why we can't win the division with the squad we've assembled, but realistically I think we've got to aim for the play-offs at a very minimum - but the top two is the aim for me.

Q: Many bookmakers have named Derby as the favourites for promotion. Having looked certain to go up last season before an almighty collapse, do you think that experience will motivate the players to aim for the title?

A: After last season I think we're a lot stronger. We had a good footballing side but didn't really have the experience on the pitch.

This year is a whole different story, with some key additions to our squad. Especially at the back, where we've gone out and signed good players but more importantly, leaders. It was a great appointment to make Chris Baird captain as he's a very experienced player and a very good leader, which is just what we were missing last season. A player that can put their arm around the youngsters and give them a little advice.

This year we'll be a lot stronger but, also, the division gets better and better each year so nothing is guaranteed.

Q: Darren Bent and Tom Ince have been signed to permanent deals over the summer. They will be the obvious threats in the eyes of many opposition supporters, but who else do you expect to catch the eye between now and next May?

A: George Thorne for me. He's just a fantastic footballer. He is only young but he seems to do everything right, gets the ball at his feet and can pick a pass out of nowhere. He also has the knack of chipping in with a few goals and he'll just sit in front of the back-four and mop up the play.

He can put a good challenge in when needed and then we go on the counter attack with his range of passing. He's a very good all round footballer and last year I personally think we really missed him. It was a massive loss with him getting injured in Austria, but he's back and raring to go so I don't see why he can't step up this year and he will deliver.

Q: It's been another hard-hitting summer at Bolton, with another season of free transfers and loan signings expected. The bookies have us down as relegation candidates - do you agree with their assessment or is Neil Lennon capable of upsetting the odds?

A: I think it's a little unfair to label you as relegation candidates.

Free transfers and loan signings aren't a bad idea. I remember five years ago, we were doing the exact same - building a squad to stabilise the club is the only way to really go in football for me, if you don't want to end up like the clubs struggling to survive financially.

Neil Lennon is a passionate manager and I'm sure he will get the best out of his players, but the division this year is a lot stronger than last year so it's going to be a lot tighter down the bottom end.

Q: Despite the number crunching on the balance sheet, we have some promising youngsters starting to emerge - such as Derik Osede, Josh Vela and Zach Clough. Looking through the Wanderers squad, who do you think could emerge as our key man this season?

A: I'm going to go with Jay Spearing and Dean Moxey. These two players have bags of experience at this level and in the top flight, and are very good professionals and leaders.

You'll need leaders in your team with the young lads you have, just like any side. You need someone to turn to when times get tough, needing a performance and they normally stand up.

Spearing is a very good midfielder who doesn't shy away from anything, but also good on the ball and always chips in with a goal. Moxey is a full-back who'll get up and down that line all day and has great delivery. I'm not saying these two are going to pull up trees but when you could possibly be fighting for your lives, it's not going to be pretty it's about getting the job done.

Q: Finally, what is your score prediction for Saturday's opening game?

A: I don't do predictions for games as I never get them anywhere near personally, but all I will say is it's going to be a tough game.

Openers are always tough as both sides will be wanting to start the season with a win and get some momentum going in the early weeks of the season.

I will say I think that Derby's quality will just edge it and can see us coming out winners.

Burnden Aces would like to thank Craig for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more from him on Twitter - @DawseDCFC.

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
6 Cambridge United 3 6
7 Derby County 3 6
8 Bolton Wanderers 3 5
9 Portsmouth 3 5
10 Accrington Stanley 3 5
View Full Standings >>

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