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05/06: Preview: Derby County
Opposition opinion
by Chris Smith of The Baseball Bat Fanzine

What happened last season?
In short, last season was glorious. After missing relegation by the skin of our teeth the previous year, we all hoped for a top half finish but I don't think anyone anticipated the full on promotion tilt which transpired. The signings of Idiakez and Rasiak in particular proved to be the catalyst for some of the best football seen at Derby for years. Unfortunately, whilst our first team was as good as anyone's, our squad was paper thin, a factor which caught up with us in the play off games against Preston.

Still, as I said, a glorious season by the Rams, Forest hammered (again) & relegated (you'll never play us again, etc) and loads of optimism for going one better in 2005/06.

What's going to happen next season?
Just as everything was looking rosy in the garden, in typical DCFC style, we decide to hit self destruct with maximum prejudice. George Burley left under a cloud and we wasted most of the close season getting a new manager when we should have been getting new players. At the time of writing, we haven't sold any one yet but we are still around 3-4 players down on last years squad, which was already too small. Phil Brown is a bit of an unknown quantity but is highly rated by Bolton. This morning we are talking about bringing in 4 more players before the end of the transfer deadline and this will probably make or break our season.

What about Junior...?
Junior is a player of contradictions - he's Brazilian but not overly skilful, he's big but not a very good target man and he doesn't do much in games apart from score goals. His career at Derby started of brilliantly with three goals in five games (including the injury time winner against Watford) but his knee injury at Forest effectively ruined his Rams career. He was out for the best part of a season and other players came in and went past him in the pecking order. He's one of those players whose running style naturally makes him look lazy and he will drive you (and his team mates) to distraction by dribbling when there's an easy pass and shooting from impossible angles. However if he stays fit and plays he will score goals. His finishing is generally lethal and he hits the ball ridiculously hard. We never quite saw the best of him at Derby (apart from when he scored a hat -trick against us for Walsall), but if he gets his confidence up you can nail him on for at least 15 goals.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"The Blue Dog combines the friendliness of your local with the proffessionalism of a managed house! Great pint as well!"

"shame all those dirty trees couldnt fill this in this year.......not"
(there were a few along these lines - ed)

"In the interests of safety, mobile phones must not be used whilst washing the dishes."

"watford are a dirty little club and junior would be a good signing for you"

"Barry Bethal is a Fat Bas**rd again after swapping slim-fast for cooking oil!"

"Subway make the best meatball sub sarnies"

"ducks quacks do echo and only one in eight french men own a toothbrush"

"much as I love football, I'm pretty clueless"

"For the first month, you'll love Junior. After that, you'll hate the useless tosser"