Nigel Clough has told his Derby County squad that ‘now is the time to deliver’, as the side prepare to take on recently-promoted Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow afternoon.
After returning to Moor Farm Training Ground on July 12th for pre-season, the Rams’ management have put the playing staff through their paces, with intense fitness sessions and friendly matches to increase match sharpness, ahead of the npower Championship 2012-13 campaign.
With that pre-season schedule now over and the Championship season starting tomorrow, Clough has called on his squad to put their hard work and preparation into practice - starting with Saturday’s opener against the Owls at Pride Park Stadium.
He told Rams Player:“I think you see a lot of draws on the opening day of the season because nobody wants to lose, but we will be going for the win as usual - and we might be too positive at times.
“Our play going forward on Tuesday night against Scunthorpe in the Capital One Cup was fantastic, and we don’t want to sacrifice that at the cost of being defensive or negative. We don’t think we have to.
“It is a much, much stronger division than it has been in previous seasons. You always look for one or two teams that might struggle, but you simply cannot see them this year.
“We have got a very young side here, but they have got to deliver.
“There is no use saying ‘yes we played lovely football, but we lost again’ over and over, that does not work in the Championship, nor in any other league.
“So we must temper that with the realisation that we need results.”
Meanwhile, Clough has told his players to use the disappointment of Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup exit to Scunthorpe United, as motivation ahead of tomorrow’s opener with Dave Jones’ side.
In a thrilling encounter, the Rams drew 5-5 with the Iron in normal time, before crashing out 7-6 on penalties, and Clough believes the side can use the defeat to drive them forward in Saturday’s opening clash.
He added: “When you take a look back at our goals on Tuesday, I don’t think we were outnumbered in any area; it is just about the players doing their jobs better.
“Certainly in the last three or four minutes of the game we need to go back to doing what we have been in the last 12 months, and start putting the ball towards their corner flag – which we failed to do.
“However, we have got to draw a line under Tuesday, we cannot let it fester. If you are a player, you use Tuesday night as motivation to get a result Saturday.”
Watch the full interview with Nigel Clough exclusively on Rams Player.