When Nigel Pearson took over at Derby County in the summer, it seemed like the perennial play-off chargers had the final piece of the jigsaw sorted. A hugely talented group of players finally had a manager who has experience in taking teams up from the division and someone with a ruthless, winning mentality.
Yet despite his qualities, the Rams have had an awful start to the season, lying in 22nd and only picking up six points from nine games. Their scoring record is abysmal too with only three netted so far. So why have Pearson's men started so slowly?
Letting Chris Martin go
Quite possibly the strangest transfer deal of the summer saw Derby let talisman striker Chris Martin leave the club on a season-long loan to Championship rivals Fulham. There was not even the matter of a transfer fee to soften the blow of losing a player like him.
One of the most complete centre forwards in the division. the Scotland international can hold the ball up, make intelligent runs and score goals. So for Derby to let him go was bewildering, particularly as they tend to play with only one up front, where a more complete centre forward is required.
Martin's absence could partially explain their downfall so far in terms of scoring.
Not strengthening at the back
Richard Keogh and Jason Shackell are good solid defenders at this level and have enjoyed success of their own. But they are not getting any younger and could be feeling the strain of Championship football now.
At full-back, Cyrus Christie and Martin Olsson are great going forward but suspect defensively.
Even though it is early in the season, Pearson may be ruing not strengthening his squad at the back. With Derby struggling to score goals,a solid defence is an absolute must.
A losing mentality
Ever since their play-off final defeat in 2014, Derby have spent big in order to try to get out of the division; Matej Vydra for £8 million and Bradley Johnson for £6 million for example.
Yet the Rams have always choked when it has mattered. After looking certain to gain automatic promotion or at least a play-off sport at Christmas 2014, a poor second half of the season saw Steve McClaren's men miss out and finish eighth.
Last season, they reached the play-offs but were thrashed 3-0 by Hull City in the first leg to end any chances of progression. Unless they want promotion, Derby must eradicate the losing mentality that has swamped the club.
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