What's not to like about Derby County?
- They are one of three Championship clubs which exploited the incredibly lax EFL rules last season by selling their stadium to themselves. This enabled them to avoid a Financial Fair Play (Profit & Sustainability) penalty which would probably have cost them eight points and their place in the play-offs.
- They have signed Coleen Rooney's husband as player / coach from next January. The costs are being covered by a betting company who will gain publicity through the player wearing number 32 on his shirt.
- Two of their players escaped jail sentences on Tuesday despite being over the limit and leaving the scene of the incident when their cars collided in the town last month. Club captain Richard Keogh was not so lucky. He was a passenger in one of the vehicles and will be out for fifteen months as a result of a knee injury sustained in the accident.
Is that modern football in a nutshell?
Sometimes it is quite gratifying to support the club with the lowest wage bill in The Championship, punching above its weight and using old fashioned methods like choosing hungry players and improving their technique as a route to success.
Derby arrive at The Valley on Saturday as a mid table Championship side having won 3, drawn 6 and lost 2 of their games so far. Away from home they have won at Huddersfield and gained draws at Barnsley, Leeds and Stoke but were well beaten 3-0 at Brentford..
There will be some familiar faces for Charlton fans. Krystian Bielik will surely receive a warm welcome in recognition of his outstanding contribution to last season's success but he will no doubt be hoping that, if he scores, no Charlton fans run on to the pitch to congratulate him.
County's leading goalscorer (with four) is Martyn Waghorn. He was nineteen when, ten years ago, he had a two month loan spell (from Sunderland) at The Valley, playing seven games and scoring once in a side that would be relegated at the end of the season. He has appeared for seven different clubs since then and joined Derby this summer after playing last season for Ipswich.
Their goalkeeper is likely to be Dutchman Kelle Roos who signed from Nuneaton Borough in January 2014 and waited five years to make his Derby debut. Last season his understudy was Scott Carson who has now been loaned to Manchester City. It is likely therefore that it will be Ben Hamer on the bench on Saturday. Since leaving Charlton in 2014 Hamer has played in The Premier League and The Champions League but, in that five year period, he has made a grand total of just 34 first team appearances for his clubs, of which only 23 were League games - an average of fewer than five games a season. He will be in the Derby squad courtesy of a season-long loan from Huddersfield Town who he joined from Leicester in 2018.
Lee Bowyer has reported that Ben Purrington, Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal will all be available for selection for this game, although Hemed and Kayal may still be short of match fitness. The manager himself he will be absent from the touchline as a result of a three match ban issued this week as a result of an incident in the Swansea game when he returned a ball to the Swansea coaching team and apparently "questioned the integrity of a match official". Having been issued with the ban Lee commented:
"I'm surprised and disappointed with the ban. I didn't shout or swear in my discussion with the referee but it is what it is. My focus remains making sure we are ready for Saturday's game against Derby County."
This is definitely a game which would be very satisfying to win. Our record against Derby hasn't been inspiring in recent years with only one win in the last ten encounters. That was in August 2014 when goals from Tucudean, Buyens and Vetokele saw us to a 3-2 home victory. Something similar on Saturday would be very welcome.
The full story of the stadium-selling ruse can be seen here: