Nigel Clough has encouraged his Derby County side to ‘just relax and play’ ahead of tomorrow’s Pride Park showdown with Watford.
Although Derby are yet to record a win in the npower Championship this season, with two draws coming from their opening three matches, Clough has been pleased with the performance levels of his side.
Having deservedly hit back to equalise in added time at Wolves last Saturday, Clough says Theo Robinson’s strike has provided a welcome lift to take into training this week ahead of the visit of Gianfranco Zola’s men.
He told Rams Player: “There’s been a lift in training, from the Under 21 game against Leicester on Monday right the way through the week.
“Training has been absolutely excellent in terms of tempo and workrate; which is a continuation of what we saw at Wolves.
“Now we want the players to get their rewards by getting a win. We’ve had some very good spells in all four of our games this season so far, and not to get a victory is a bit mystifying.
“We don’t want it to go on much longer because the lads will be asking what more they have to do to get a win, so we want them to keep playing and relax.
“We’re not in ‘must win’ territory. We’re only three games in and there are 43 games and plenty of points to play for – so just relax and play is our message.”
He added: “Sometimes you just need a break in football and we don’t think we’ve had one yet. We are far, far happier with the performances of the team this season, but we’ve not got a win yet which shows how unfair football can be at times.”
Clough admits that Zola’s Hornets are something of an unknown quantity this season, having recruited as many as seven players from abroad on season-long loan deals.
However, he admits the Italian’s new signings look to have settled into life in England quickly with two wins from three games in the Championship this season.
He said: “Watford are an unknown quantity I guess and there aren’t too many names we recognise from last season.
“The stalwarts are still there like Eustace and Taylor; but there are a lot of players’ names we don’t recognise and they’ll be adjusting to Championship football – but they’ve won two out of three so they’re not doing too badly.
“Gianfranco Zola was an outstanding player so if he’s got anyone as half as good as he was, they’ll be alright!
“They have some good players, but we have players that teams should be concerned about too and we’ll be focussing more on ourselves this season, and how we play.”
Clough has also revealed that the entire first-team squad took in the Wolves game on DVD earlier this week, with the Rams boss conscious that sitting the players down to watch the best bits should be encouraged as much as using video technology to highlight where improvements can be made.
He said: “We’ve watched the Wolves game back with the lads; especially as we felt it was important to see the positive side of things as well as the times when we sit going over the match DVDS picking out what we could do better.
“We felt it would be appropriate to remind them how well they played, so it works both ways.
“It’s important to put it all into perspective as well. Wolves have just come down from the Premier League and after a dodgy few results for us, a draw and a defeat, to go there and play like we did with such confidence and freedom was the most pleasing thing.
“We’re going to lose games in this league, everyone is, so we can’t afford to get down about it and we need to go out in every game and do what we do best.”
Watch Nigel Clough’s pre-match interview on Rams Player.