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[FM19] Derby County - Director of Football Challenge

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Game date: Thursday 30 September 2021

Pre-match v Bayer 04 Leverkusen (H) - Euro Cup Group I (2)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: After drawing with Liverpool, it's back to the Euro Cup tonight. Having won at Atalanta, you could stamp your authority on the group early with a win. How do you see this one against Leverkusen?

Stuniverse: You're right. We could. But it's a tough one. These are all very good teams in the Euro Cup. At least we're at home tonight and haven't got to jump on a plane.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: What team have you picked?

Stuniverse: Much the same as the team who played so well against Liverpool. Harry Wilson returns for Mason Bennett and Luigi Sepe is in goal for Pau Lopez.

Post-match: Derby County (1) 1-0 (0) Bayer 04 Leverkusen

RamsFanzine: Congratulations on maintaining your 100% record in the Euro Cup.

Stuniverse: Thank you. I thought we did a very professional job tonight and looked in control throughout. Without the ball we kept our shape and defended well. With the ball we caused them problems and only Muller in their goal prevented a higher scoreline. I was delighted Harry Wilson got his goal. Our wingers have all got their goal scoring boots on, with Cristian Espinoza and Mason Bennett both scoring against Liverpool. Now we need to get our strikers firing.

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RamsFanzine: With Atalanta winning at Maritimo, you now have a three point lead over 2nd and 3rd. That's a good start, isn't it?

Stuniverse: Yes. It definitely is. But we haven't played Maritimo yet, and then we have to play everybody again. But, yes, we're all delighted with the start we've made to the Group.

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Game date: 1 October 2021

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Thanks, Mel.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: Sunday 3 October 2021

Pre-match v Chelsea (a) - Premier League (8)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: The bottom three all lost yesterday so, whatever happens against Chelsea today, you won't lose any ground.

Stuniverse: At the moment, we're looking up the table, not down. We're confident we can compete against Chelsea and, if we can do that, we have a chance to get a result at Stamford Bridge.

RamsFanzine: How are you finding your schedule with Euro Cup and Premier League matches?

Stuniverse: It's tougher than I thought it was going to be, with not having the biggest of squads. At face value, Thursday-Sunday is pretty much the same as Wednesday-Saturday. When you're at home in the Euro Cup, as we were this week, then there really isn't much difference, but when you're away on Thursday, and then have to fly back after a Thursday night match, then there's a huge difference.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: Is that why you've made four changes today?

Stuniverse: Partly. Will Hughes and Max Aarons were struggling with some fatigue so Max Bird and Jayden Bogle come in. Mason Mount can't play against his parent club so Martin Naylor starts. And Alexander Nubel plays in goal. Tom Lawrence (calf) and Fikayo Tomori (calf) are both unavailable still. 

RamsFanzine: You've now started three different goalkeepers in your last three matches. Do you not know who your number one goalkeeper is?

Stuniverse: Look. It's not as simple as that right now as you very well know. Luigi Sepe played in the Euro Cup, because he's our back-up goalkeeper. Pau Lopez and Alexander Nubel are competing for the starting spot and it's only fair to give them both playing time at the moment as the situation probably won't resolve itself until January.

RamsFanzine: Does that mean you're looking to sell one of them?

Stuniverse: I don't know. January is three months away and then we have a whole month to the window. A lot could happen between now and then.

Post-match: Chelsea (2) 7-0 (0) Derby County

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RamsFanzine: Ah, there you are [looks at watch]. What can you say about that?

Stuniverse: I think the least said about that the better.

RamsFanzine: Did Nubel cost you the match?

Stuniverse: Look. I think it's harsh to single out our goalkeeper. We were shocking today, throughout the whole team, and I want to apologise to the 3,000 fans who travelled down to endure that. We should have done much better.

But, yes, I thought Alexander was at fault for their crucial second and third goals. For the second one he drops a routine catch right on the foot of their striker. For their third goal, he doesn't even make an effort when the header was there to be saved.

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RamsFanzine: You now face thirteen days before your next game at home to Watford. Not a good time for an International break, is it?

Stuniverse: Depends which way you look at it. Clearly we have a lot of hard work to do and the international break gives us almost two weeks to do that. Our internationals are the lucky ones, because the players that remain with us are going to be worked very, very hard over the next two weeks.

RamsFanzine: Will Lawrence, Toloi and Tomori be back in time for Watford?

Stuniverse: Hopefully, yes.

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Game date: 8 October 2021

HIBBERT SIGNS NEW DEAL

RamsFanzine: There was some good news for Derby County on the goalkeeper front as DoF Ior Stimac announced that 18-year old Academy prospect Ben Hibbert has signed a new contract until the summer of 2024.

Hibbert, who's widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the Rams Academy set-up, is playing for Rochadale on loan in the Vanarama National League this season. Hibbert's four clean sheets in 11 appearance has helped Rochdale into 3rd place.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: Saturday 16 October 2021

Pre-match v Watford (H) - Premier League (9)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: I'm sure you've been itching to get the Chelsea game out of your system. Are you ready for Watford today?

Stuniverse: We've had thirteen days since our last game to work with the players, and our internationals joined in the back-end of this week. The players know the Chelsea game was unacceptable and I'm confident they'll do much better today.

RamsFanzine: With Watford one place and one point ahead of you, could this match be a defining moment in your season?

Stuniverse: I wouldn't go that far, this is only our ninth league game of the season. A win, though, would get us heading in the right direction again and that's what we'll be looking to achieve. 

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: You've made five changes today.

Stuniverse: After our last performance, wouldn't you?

RamsFanzine: Probably. Want to talk us through them?

Stuniverse: Sure. Pau Lopez back in goal for Alexander Nubel. Max Aarons returns for Jayden Bogle. Rafael Toloi is over his knee injury and is in for Matteo Darmian. Will Hughes and Mason Mount back in midfield for Martin Naylor and Max Bird.

RamsFanzine: Lawrence back on the bench?

Stuniverse: Yes. Tom Lawrence still isn't fully over his calf problem but the medical team tell us we can maybe get an hour out of Tom should we need it.

Post-match: Derby County (1) 4-0 (0) Watford

RamsFanzine: You wanted to bounce back after the Chelsea game. You must be pleased to bounce back in style?

Stuniverse: Yes, of course. In fairness to Mauricio Pellegrino, I don't think this was a 4-0 game. Watford certainly caused us plenty of problems, but our defenders and goalkeeper were on it today, and through Cristian Espinoza, Mason Mount, Harry Wilson and Tom Lawrence, we were ruthless in front of goal.

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RamsFanzine: From 0-7, to 4-0, how did you turn it around?

Stuniverse: The first thing to say is that we don't get hung up on individual results whether we smash someone, or somebody else smashes us. Secondly, I think we missed Rafael Toloi and Fikayo Tomori. Matteo Darmian did his best to provide cover for us, but he's a full-back, not a centre-back. Having Rafael back today brought a calmness to our defence, and he certainly gives us something else with his ability to play the ball out of defence.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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A nice bounce back win. Looks like your goalkeeper situation may have been sorted...

I also noticed that you changed some roles. Ings is now a dlf on support and I think one of the wingers was now on attack? Is it a permanent tactical change or it's something you do from week to week?

Edited by kidthekid

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32 minutes ago, kidthekid said:

A nice bounce back win. Looks like your goalkeeper situation may have been sorted...

I also noticed that you changed some roles. Ings is now a dlf on support and I think one of the wingers was now on attack? Is it a permanent tactical change or it's something you do from week to week?

Thanks, @kidthekid. Yes, it may be a bit harsh on Alexander Nubel, but Pau Lopez is showing what I thought that, for me, Lopez is my #1 goalkeeper. The problem will be keeping Lopez happy if a big club comes in for him in January. I’m currently considering whether Nubel should get the Carabao Cup matches.

That’s a good spot about the roles. It’s not something I normally do, no. As the 4-2-3-1 seems to be working pretty well, once I’ve worked out what a player’s best role is in that system I tend to stick with it.

Right now, my wingers are scoring goals for fun, and the central midfielders are chipping in too, but Danny Ings hasn’t scored in his last five games. The tweaks, this time, are more about trying to find the right role for Ings in the system than anything else.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: Thursday 21 October 2021

Pre-match v Maritimo (H) - Europa Cup Group I (3)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: If you can beat Maritimo at Pride park tonight, you'll have beaten all three of your Group opponents and be strongly in pole position.

Stuniverse: Likewise, if we lose, we could be knocked off top spot. We're not taking anything for granted. We gave the players a rest after the Watford game and then we came back on Monday and have trained hard and prepared thoroughly for this game.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: Five changes in all.

Stuniverse: Yes. Luigi Sepe in goal for Pau Lopez. Jayden Bogle comes in as Max Aarons needed a rest. Rafael Toloi is only just back from a knee injury, and Fikayo Tomori needs playing time, so Fikayo starts tonight. Matteo Darmian is in at left-back to give Max Lowe a break. And Jack Marriott freshens things up for Danny Ings up front.

Post-match: Derby County (2) 2-1 (1) Maritimo

RamsFanzine: Derby's 100% winning record in the Euro Cup continues. Were you worried though when they pulled one back in the second-half?

Stuniverse: Jack Marriott and Domingos Quina put us 2-0 up at half-time. I thought we always looked solid at the back but, you're right, we weren't as comfortable with a one-goal lead as we were with a two-goal lead, but I thought we controlled the game for the most part and their goalkeeper, Wilson Soares [regen], was in superb form.

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RamsFanzine: You've played all three teams now in your Group and won all three. But, with the way the other matches have gone, with Atalanta, Leverkusen and Maritimo having won one and lost one of their other games, your Derby side have all-but qualified already.

Stuniverse: I wouldn't say that, exactly, but we have put ourselves in a very strong position at the top of the Group.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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1 hour ago, kidthekid said:

A nice bounce back win. Looks like your goalkeeper situation may have been sorted...

I also noticed that you changed some roles. Ings is now a dlf on support and I think one of the wingers was now on attack? Is it a permanent tactical change or it's something you do from week to week?

I’ve also been trying low crosses in the last couple of matches, @kidthekid, as our strikers aren’t particularly tall.

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Game date: Sunday 24 October 2021

Pre-match v Southampton (a) - Premier League (10)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: Southampton are firmly rooted to the foot of the table with just one win and one draw all season. They've lost their last four on the spin, five if you include the Carabao Cup. You should win this one, shouldn't you?

Stuniverse: I'm not going to disrespect Brendan Rodgers or his Southampton team by answering that. We've prepared and trained for this one exactly the same as we would any other game. We're confident, but certainly won't be underestimating Southampton.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: You've recalled Ings, as one of six changes, to face his old side. Was that part of your thinking?

Stuniverse: Yes. Danny Ings has been struggling for goals lately, but he replaces Jack Marriott today. I've had a chat with him and I'm hoping the familiar surroundings of St. Mary's Stadium will fire Danny up.

Mason Mount looked a little jaded so Martin Naylor starts. Pau Lopez is back in for Luigi Sepe. Max Aarons returns instead of Jayden Bogle. Rafael Toloi for Fikayo Tomori, and Max Lowe for Matteo Darmian.

Post-match: Southampton (1) 1-1 (0) Derby County

RamsFanzine: Was a draw a fair result?

Stuniverse: Probably. If I'm being honest. Probably. There wasn't much in it, to be fair, and once Januzaj gave them the lead they were always going to defend it with their lives in the situation they find themselves at the bottom of the table.

RamsFanzine: You must've been pleased to see Mount equalise within three minutes of coming on?

Stuniverse: Yes. Absolutely. Mason Mount hit a superb free-kick around the wall and into the top corner. And that kind of sums up where the squad is right now. Tom Lawrence (calf) and Mason (jaded) were both on the bench today as the medical team didn't think either of them were fit to start. If both of them had been fully match-fit, and started the game, would we have won? Who knows? And there's no point thinking like that because there's nothing as manager I can do about it. Injuries and fatigue are part of the game, even more so it seems with the Euro Cup campaign.

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RamsFanzine: You're up to 12th, with a game in hand, but you so nearly won it right at the end.

Stuniverse: Yes. Cristian Espinosa had a great chance late on but he wasn't at his best today and he gave Gunn the chance to save it. 

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: Wednesday 27 October 2021

Pre-match v Burnley (a) - Carabao Cup Round 4

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: A trip to Turf Moor in the Carabao Cup tonight. Your busy schedule doesn't get any easier, does it?

Stuniverse: No. But I bet if you asked my players they'd rather be playing football matches than training.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: Three changes today.

Stuniverse: Yes. A couple are forced. Will Hughes is jaded, and Mason Mount has an ankle injury, so Albie Morgan starts in midfield and Will drops onto the bench. Jack Marriott plays up front for Danny Ings. Alexander Nubel gets another opportunity in goal. Tom Lawrence (calf) still isn't ready to start.

Post-match: Burnley (0) 0-2 (1) Derby County

RamsFanzine: Congratulations on reaching the Quarter-Finals. Can you go on and win it?

Stuniverse: Whoa. Don't get ahead of yourself. It's great to be in the Quarter-Finals. We'll take it one round t a time but, yes, we want to see how far we can go. I thought we were good value for the win tonight. Jack Marriott was ruthless in front of goal with his two goals.

RamsFanzine: Espinoza limped off, how is he?

Stuniverse: Cristian Espinoza bruised his ankle. He shouldn't be out for more than a few days.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: 29 October 2021

NAYLOR'S FUTURE IN DOUBT

RamsFanzine: Derby County sources inform us that 19 year-old midfielder Martin Naylor has rejected the offer of a new contract. Naylor is currently under contract to the Rams until the summer of 2023, but DoF Igor Stimac was keen to tie the Derby Academy graduate down for much longer.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: 29 October 2021

RAMS VISIT THE GUNNERS

RamsFanzine: Derby County have been drawn away to Arsenal in the Quarter-Final of the Carabao Cup.

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Game date: Monday 1 November 2021

Pre-match v Blackburn Rovers (H) - Premier League (11)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: It's back to the league again for the visit of Blackburn, who are struggling in 16th. Is it bad timing for you that they ended their run of six games without a win last time out when they beat West Brom?

Stuniverse: We can't control any of that. We have to play everybody home and away, when we play them is beyond our control.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: How are the injuries?

Stuniverse: Clearing up, fortunately. Tom Lawrence (calf), Mason Mount (ankle), Cristian Epinosa (ankle) and Matteo Darmian (ankle) are all available again. Martin Naylor has injured his back this week and Max Aarons is fatigued so we're going to give him a bit of a rest.

RamsFanzine: Any changes?

Stuniverse: Yes. Five. Pau Lopez in goal for Alexander Nubel. Jayden Bogle for Max Aarons. Will Hughes and Mason Mount for Martin Naylor and Albie Morgan. Last, but not least, Tom Lawrence for Domingos Quina.

Post-match: Derby County (3) 3-1 (0) Blackburn Rovers

RamsFanzine: Was that the best first-half you've played this season?

Stuniverse: Quite possibly, yes. Blackburn couldn't live with us at times. The whole team performed brilliantly and our three goals from Jack Marriott, Cristian Espinoza, and Harry Wilson were top class.

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RamsFanzine: The win consolidates your position in 11th place and you still have a game in hand.

Stuniverse: I know. Our Euro Cup schedule, coupled with our Carabao Cup run, means we don't play Burnley in that game-in-hand until just before Christmas. Our league schedule is settling down a bit, as we get more used to the Thursday-Sunday routine, and we're pleased with where we are in the league right now, but we're looking to kick-on and move up into the top half if we can.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Love  a Monday morning catch up :) 

 

The Chelsea result was a bad one but you have bounced back really well, could be the kick up the backside that the squad needed to try and improve on last year, you don't want to see any second season syndrome coming into play.   And some great results in Europe, the European tour is going well and at least the fans are visiting some decent places too! 

 

Quick question, as I can't remember whether you have mentioned it, what other leagues do you have loaded?   

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20 minutes ago, dap1987 said:

Love  a Monday morning catch up :) 

The Chelsea result was a bad one but you have bounced back really well, could be the kick up the backside that the squad needed to try and improve on last year, you don't want to see any second season syndrome coming into play.   And some great results in Europe, the European tour is going well and at least the fans are visiting some decent places too! 

Thanks, @dap1987. Monday is a non-working day for me so it's always a good chance to play FM whilst the wife i at work, although she does normally leave me a list of jobs too.

The Chelsea game, a 7-0 hammering, was an awful match and I worried it might hit morale, but the players have responded magnificently with four wins and two draws in all competitions since.

We are thoroghly enjoying our European adventure, long may it continue...

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Edited by Stuniverse

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12 minutes ago, dap1987 said:

Quick question, as I can't remember whether you have mentioned it, what other leagues do you have loaded?   

I think I uploaded this screenshot at the start of the save but that's 19-20 pages ago (Wow!) so here you go again, @dap1987. I tend not to change the leagues once a save has started and I haven't made any changes to leagues on this save.

active_leagues.thumb.png.c62417f5504595d663bf3cdd1d97e251.png

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Game date: Thursday 4 November 2021

Pre-match v Maritimo (a) - Euro Cup Group I (4)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: You maintained your 100% record in the Euro Cup when you beat Maritimo recently. The way the group's shaped up, another win today guarantees your qualification, doesn't it?

Stuniverse: Look, we're not getting ahead of ourselves. We had a narow 2-1 win against Maritimo at Pride Park. This away tie, in Portugual, is going to be much tougher. We're here to do our best tonight and maintain our momentum in this competition.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: You've only made two changes. Is that a sign of the importance of tonight's game?

Stuniverse: Well, we're without Mason Mount (ankle), Martin Naylor (back) and Max Aarons (fatigued). Domingos Quina returns for Mason and Luigi Sepe plays in goal as he's our Euro Cup goalkeeper. The players were outstanding against Blackburn and deserve to go again. I did consider starting Danny Ings up front, but it didn't seem fair to leave out Jack Marriott after scoring three goals in his last two starts; I always tell the players, if you play well you'll keep the shirt.

Post-match: Maritimo (0) 1-1 (1) Derby County

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RamsFanzine: Congratulations on maintaining your unbeaten record in the Euro Cup and qualifying for the knockout stage. Did VAR deny you the win though?

Stuniverse: Thank you. No, I don't think so. Was Mason Bennett offside when he scored right near the end? My angle in the dugout wasn't a good one. To be fair, the flag went up as soon as Mason shot, and then they reviewed it on VAR. It was a tight one, no doubt, and you have to trust VAR gets it right.

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RamsFanzine: If you beat Atalanta next time up, or if you avoid defeat against Leverkusen in the final game, you'll win the group. You would've taken that at the start, wouldn't you?

Stuniverse: Of course. Absolutely. My players have been magnificent during this campaign.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: Sunday 7 November 2021

Pre-match v Arsenal (a) - Premier League (12)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: You were playing in Portugual on Thursday night, now you're playing at the Emirates Stadium, London on Sunday afternoon. Have you had enough time to prepare?

Stuniverse: No. Not really. We've done the best we could, in what little time we had.

RamsFanzine: Surprisingly, Arsenal are 8th, just three points ahead of you, and you have a game-in-hand. Is this a good time to be playing Arsenal?

Stuniverse: I'm not sure. Jurgen Klopp and his players will be keen to improve their results. From what I can see, Arsenal have some fantastic players, have been playing well, but have drawn too many games. We'll do the best we can and, hopefully, we'll be far more competitive than we were at Chelsea recently.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: Is that why you've made five changes?

Stuniverse: Yes. Chris Smalling, Max Lowe, Will Hughes, Harry Wilson all look jaded so Fikayo Tomori, Matteo Darmian, Martin Naylor and Mason Mount come in. Max Aarons is still being rested. Pau Lopez reurns in goal.

Post-match: Arsenal (4) 6-0 (0) Derby County

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RamsFanzine: I don't know what to say, really. Five against Man Utd, seven against Chelsea, and now six against Arsenal. How worried are you that the so-called big boys keep overpowering you in their back-yards?

Stuniverse: I know you'll think this is an excuse, but we don't have the size or quality of squad the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United have. On each occasion, we played them on the back of a tough Thursday night Euro cup-tie, two of them in far flung European cities, and we had to put together a team of 11 players who were the fittest we had. When you do that, against a bigger squad than we've got, a quality squad who are fresher than we are, then it's always going to be tough.

And today we had even more hard luck during the game. Martin Naylor goes off with an achilles problem early on, so Will Hughes, who we wanted to rest, has to come on. Cristian Espinoza also gets injured just before the break and has to go off.

And when we did get some chances early on, Leno was superb in their goal.

RamsFanzine: Unlike your own goalkeeper who scored an own goal for their second and made a bad error for their fifth.

Stuniverse: That's a bit harsh. Matteo Darmian cleared the ball off the line, it hits Paul Lopez on the back and goes in. That's freakish and not Pau's fault. Unlike the one where he rushes out of his area and clears the ball with his head straight to Aubameyang, presenting him with an open goal.

RamsFanzine: One player who was fully rested was Danny Ings, yet you didn't use him at all. Why was that?

Stuniverse: Danny's been struggling for goals lately, whereas Jack Marriott has been scoring for fun. In hindsight, maybe I should've started Danny. As the match panned out, with the two injuries, and below par performances, I'd made all three subs by the time the second-half kicked-off and I couldn't bring Danny on. If Cristian hadn't picked up his knock, I was going to give it 10, 15 minutes and then bring Danny on. It didn't work out that way though.

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RamsFanzine: You're still 11th so at least you haven't lost any ground. The international break means you have plenty of time until your next match. Is that a good thing?

Stuniverse: Well, we'll give the players who aren't away on International duty a few days rest and then we'll prepare for Bournemouth, and hope our internationals come back to us relatively unscathed.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: 11 November 2021

LOPEZ HAPPY WITH PLAYING TIME

RamsFanzine: Derby County club sources advise us that 26 year-old Spanish goalkeeper Pau Lopez is happy with his current playing time and believes manager Stuniverse has kept his promise.

We understand that Inter Milan and AS Roma still have major interest in signing Lopez and our sources tell us that DoF Igor Stimac and Stuniverse are determined to resolve the goalkeeper situation at the club during the January transfer window.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: 12 November 2021

MITCHELL TO END SAINTS NIGHTMARE

RamsFanzine: Our sources at Derby County have told us that DoF Igor Stimac has agreed to bring 26 year-old former Rams goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell back to the football club. for a fee of £240K.

Mitchell who failed to make a single appearance for Southampton, has agreed a contract until the summer of 2024.

Although manager Stuniverse considered Mitchell a competent back-up while he was here, Mitchell didn't play for Stuniverse in the league. With the Rams having a glut of goalkeepers, it's hard to see Mitchell ousting Pau Lopez, Alexander Nubel and Luigi Sepe , although he may well be able to compete with Frank Fielding for the #4 spot.

Derby County have well documented problems with their goalkeepers and the situation could yet change drastically during January, when Mitchell will rejoin the Rams.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: 13 November 2021

FIELDING LET GO

RamsFanzine: DoF Igor Stimac has confirmed that 33 year-old goalkeeper Frank Fielding has been released from his Derby County contract.

Fielding, who returned to the Rams this summer, in a surprise move, failed to make an appearance during his short-lived and ill-fated second spell at Derby County.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Another bad result against a big team :( are they performing well at all and just the bigger teams are more clinical?   The matches after a European game are always difficult with a smaller squad, or where your back ups are a bit of a way behind the starters.  You need to bounce back again as you did after the Chelsea game, who have you got? 

 

Good to see Lopez is happy again, lets hope his head isn't turned in the January window!  

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5 minutes ago, dap1987 said:

Another bad result against a big team :( are they performing well at all and just the bigger teams are more clinical?   The matches after a European game are always difficult with a smaller squad, or where your back ups are a bit of a way behind the starters.  You need to bounce back again as you did after the Chelsea game, who have you got? 

Good to see Lopez is happy again, lets hope his head isn't turned in the January window!  

To be honest, @dap1987, we're having to cobble together a team of 90%+ condition players after the Euro Cup games and the BIG CLUBS, in front of their own fans, are proving too good and far too clinical or us. That said, we should be doing better than 0-5, 0-7 and 0-6. I'm considering a change of formation for next time...

Next up is 19th placed Bournemouth at home.

20112021_Fixtures.thumb.png.30276dfa4f4a28b045f32f50b1406174.png

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You've got a tough time in December haven't you, City away, Arsenal away in the Cup and then a run of 3 away matches!!  The fixture list hasn't been too kind there, although Burnley twice in 8 games is a new one, never seen that before! 

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32 minutes ago, dap1987 said:

You've got a tough time in December haven't you, City away, Arsenal away in the Cup and then a run of 3 away matches!!  The fixture list hasn't been too kind there, although Burnley twice in 8 games is a new one, never seen that before! 

To be honest, @dap1987, I haven’t looked that far ahead. I just knew we had a lot of fixtures in December which will test our thin squad to it’s limits. Now, you’ve worried me even more 😀

One of the Burnley games is our game-in-hand from quite early in the season. Because of our Euro Cup and Carabao Cup runs I think that’s where it’s now scheduled. It has been cancelled and rearranged to or three times already as we’ve progressed in the cup competitions.

Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: Saturday 20 November 2021

Pre-match v AFC Bournemouth (H) - Premier League (13)

Match Preview

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RamsFanzine: You don't have the best record against Paul Lambert but, with his Bournemouth side languishing in 19th place, without a win in their last 12 games, is this the perfect opportunity to put that Arsenal humiliation behind you?  

Stuniverse: I hope so because a humiliation, or an embarrassment, was exactly what it was. We've had a long time to stew over that one and we're confident of getting back to our usual performance standards today.

Team Selection

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RamsFanzine: How are the injuries?

Stuniverse: Pretty much we have a clean bill of health as Martin Naylor has recovered from his achilles problem and the swelling on Cristian Espinoza's foot has gone down. Domingos Quina is suspended today and Tom Lawrence isn't fit enough to start after being away with Wales.

RamsFanzine: Talk us through your six changes.

Stuniverse: Sure. Max Aarons for Jayden Bogle, Chris Smalling for Fikayo Tomori, and Max Lowe for Matteo Darmian in defence. Will Hughes for Martin Naylor in midfield, and Harry Wilson for Domingos Quina. Danny Ings starts for Jack Marriott up front.

Post-match: Derby County (1) 4-0 (0) AFC Bournemouth

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RamsFanzine: Your team showed a lot of character to bounce back with such an accomplished performance today. Just how pleased are you?

Stuniverse: I'm delighted... and I'm so proud of the players. Today was a complete performance in many ways. Defensively we were outstanding; I don't think Pau Lopez had a single shot to save. Going forward we always looked dangerous and Mason Bennett, Harry Wilson (brace) and Mason Mount took their goals very well.

That’s why this season is so frustrating. We have a small squad. When the players are fully fit well, well  we saw today exactly what they’re capable of, but when they have to play tired, jaded or fatigued... it just looks like being a long, tough schedule this season.

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RamsFanzine: Despite the hectic schedule you've had from the start of your Euro Cup qualifying campaign, effectively in pre-season, your Derby side are 9th in the Premier League with a game-in-hand. You must be happy with that?

Stuniverse: Yes, I am. This squad of players never ceases to amaze me with the effort and commitment they put in. They deserve all the plaudits they're getting right now.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Game date: 21 November 2021

NOW NUBEL WANTS TO LEAVE

RamsFanzine: The ongoing saga of Derby County's goalkeepers this season took another twist today as, according to our sources at the club, 25 year-old German goalkeeper Alexander Nubel met with Rams manager Stuniverse to discuss his lack of playing time. It's believed that Nubel was left disillusioned after the meeting.

Nubel played the first five Premier League games of the season but, since then, he's made only one more League appearance (conceding SEVEN against Chelsea) plus one appearance in the Carabao Cup with Pau Lopez  preferred for Premier League matches and Luigi Sepe now established as the Rams Euro Cup goalkeeper.

In our opinion, Nubel has been hard done to. Last season's number one goalkeeper, Lopez, had his head turned in the summer when bids between £17M and £21M were lodged by Chelsea, Inter Milan, and AS Roma and rejected by DoF Igor Stimac.

Stimac reacted quickly and signed Nubel from Schalke 04 for £9.75M, believing that Lopez would be sold during the window for the £30M release clause (for European Champions Cup clubs) in his contract, but no bids in excess of £21M were received even though, we understand, Derby County would've accepted bids of £25M.

Nubel signed for the Rams, fully expecting to be the number one goalkeeeper once Lopez was sold, but after the transfer window closed Lopez remained at Pride Park. Despite assurances from Stimac that Nubel would be number one, manager Stuniverse has consistently selected Lopez ahead of him and it's understandable that the German believes his manager has reneged on the promise made by the club's Director of Football during contract negotiations.

Stuniverse hasn't had the best relationship with any of his goalkeepers this season. Stuniverse fell out with both Lopez and Sepe in the summer and has now fallen out with Nubel. The Rams number four goalkeeper, Frank Fielding, has recently been released after just four months at the club and former Rams back-up goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell will rejoin the Rams from Southampton in January. Stuniverse has since got Lopez and Sepe back onside but it's not known whether he'll be able to get Nubel back on side.

Chelsea are believed to have dropped their interest in Lopez but, with Inter Milan and AS Roma showing major interest in the Spanish goalkeeper, it's difficult to predict how the goalkeeping saga at Derby County is going to end.

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Edited by Stuniverse

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Wow, the GK situation is crazy. I have never experienced that in FM. Something has to give in the transfer window.

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6 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Wow, the GK situation is crazy. I have never experienced that in FM. Something has to give in the transfer window.

Tell me about it, @kidthekid. The goalkeeping situation is up there as one of three concerns for me right now.

The other two are: 

1. Squad depth - putting together a competitive team with condition 90%+ on a Sunday afternoon following a Thursday night Euro Cup game; and

2. How to get Danny Ings contributing?

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