Friday, 7 December 2007

The beauty of timing



Derby County will be relegated this season. There you are, I said it and got the shock out of the way early on. I can only hope you were all sitting down when you read those hurtful words.

Thinking about it though, the thing is that the relegation of the midlands side will differ greatly from Premier League exits of the past. Most likely they won’t have any dramatic last day heartbreak like Sheffield United losing to a 91st minute goal against Chelsea in 1994. They won’t go down in the midst of meltdown like Wimbledon (RIP) in 2000. They won’t even keep a reputation as ‘happy go lucky’ chancers and drift aimlessly away from the division like the always entertaining Oldham side of the early nineties.

Instead, from the minute they hired Paul Jewell, Derby have started their game plan for Premier League promotion in 2008/09 well before their relegation this season is even confirmed. They gave Jewell a mandate of showing a bit of spirit while going down before guaranteeing success the year after. How could Jewell lose? Here was a side admitting defeat before Christmas, but most importantly one that will have financial clout that will blow away the competition in the (insert generic sponsor here) Championship next season.

They’ll get around £20 million for finishing last in this season’s Premier League. Add few more million if they manage to climb to the heady heights of 19th. Derby are a side without huge debts, with a relatively new stadium and a vast local support that will most likely stick with them next season due to the promise of a Jewell miracle. What will happen next year is far from a miracle though, it’s cold hard finance.

They’ll come down next May, hoover up available talent from around the league and march back towards the Premiership from August onwards. No one in the league can compete with them, except of course the other two sides that will follow them down. Even if they were to become a yo-yo side, their chairman and, even perhaps their fans, will welcome the status. They might be depressed getting hammered in the Premiership each week one year but they’ll know that solace is just around the corner, well down in Colchester, the next season when they’re eating up the (KP Nuts?) Championship.

When you look at their points total at this stage of the season as well, it’s clear that Derby, along with Sunderland two years ago and Watford last season, are far worse than the teams who occupied the lower regions of the Premier League a decade ago. Yet their promotion, in this rich season of all rich seasons, will benefit Derby far more than any team had dreamt of before.

Indeed, when they go down like a lead balloon they may well create a new league within a league – a mini competition between the Premier League and Championship; where recently relegated cash cows dominate. A bizarre rotating ‘big three’ almost.

Think about it, the three who go down this year will instantly be favourites to come back up, while the three teams promoted this season from the (McMuffin?) Championship will most likely be relegated next year and pick up more huge pay cheques for their troubles on the way back down. So the cycle could well continue. Granted, generally the lower leagues provide a bit more room for shock results each week. But the future power of the millions of pounds belonging to the sides that are promoted and demoted from the Premier League in the next few years shouldn’t be underestimated.

Back to Derby though, and while some of their forums suggest that in Jewell they have found their ‘new Brian Clough’, the achievements of that particular managerial genius will never be repeated. Division Two champions one year, Division One champions only a few years later. Clough even repeated this, but incredibly in successive seasons, with Nottingham Forest a few years later too. It’s doubtful though that even he would have a hope in modern football; where the order of things is very clearly stated.

Clough’s was a system built on assistant manager Peter Taylor’s genius at spotting quality players in the nether regions of British football and the manager’s own inspirational oddities. Jewell, fine man that he is, will owe a large part of his success in the coming years to parachute payments as much as anything else. Not quite as romantic.

So, just when we were getting used to the pretty dull routine of four teams dominating the top of the league, the next few years may see the same six or seven sides dominate the relegation and promotion places. When you have to look towards the mid-table ‘battle’ for Uefa Cup spots for an actual fair battleground you know there is something amiss in the ‘best league in the world’ tm.

Oh and yes I do think United might squeeze a win against Derby tomorrow which is what started that whole train of thought.

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ODF – New Podcast Online

A podcaster scorned is a… problem halved… or something. Anyway, I couldn’t make the podcast this week so Mark found a more than able replacement in Cathal; whom you’ll be happy to know is in the David Fairclough/Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mould of super sub rather than the Gary Doherty mould of useless impact sub.

Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf07Dec07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

If that’s not enough for you then listen to this because, well, it’s excellent.

Later - JJ

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

you're right about the predictability of the league now taking some of the excitement out of the game. On the other hand stuck 100 euro on top 4 (not m city) all to win this weekend and also leinster rugby to win fri night (job done) and fully expect to win at least 20p on this accumulator. That should keep the adrenalin flowing, watch some ridiculous Rafa selection (Voronin)mess it up.

JJ said...

Jaysus boss that bet turned sour, there's always a risk with rafa but didn't think gareth would have a toothy grin after the arse game. Rafa's selection was one of his most bizarre yet and that's saying something.

Anonymous said...

Rafa you cunt!!!!! Ah well 'boro actually showed some balls and would've ruined it. Bettings for mugs.....so any tips for next week?

JJ said...

Boss when you're looking from tips from myself that really is as low as I've seen a gambler.

Fuck it though, I think Pool half time, draw full time is a cert for next week ala the Arsenal/Chelsea games at anfield this year. Cue angry email on monday when pool get tonked three nothing.

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