I CAN’T help but wonder whether Paul Jewell’s weekly pronouncements that Derby are doomed to relegation may have had a negative effect on his players.
While his honesty is commendable, Jewell’s admission that he has been preparing for life in the Championship does appear to have misfired.
When you tell your players that you’re expecting relegation, it does send out the message that you’re not banking on them winning many games. And if you go out expecting to lose, the chances are that you will.
Sure enouugh, in the 13 league matches since Jewell took over, Derby have won none and lost 10 – making them a shoo-in week after week for the final game on Match of the Day.
After watching his side lose to a Wigan team they might have beaten, Jewell finally seems to have decided on a different approach.
Last night’s final match: Wigan 2 Derby 0
Commentator: Alistair Mann
“They’ve made my life uncomfortable, with the performance today,” Jewell said after watching his current side lose to the team he used to manage. “So I’m going to make their lives uncomfortable next week.”
What that might mean in practice is anyone’s guess. Will Robbie Savage be forced to lie on a bed of nails? Will Giles Barnes be made to walk across hot coals? Perhaps Roy Carroll will have to endure a bushtucker trial and eat a kangaroo’s testicle while being egged on by Ant and Dec?
Maybe defender Alan Stubbs can shed some light on the matter.
“I know the manager has said it’s going to be an uncomfortable week for us,” said Stubbs in an interview with Derby County’s official website. “But to be honest, it’s going to be an uncomfortable 11 weeks.”
Ah, now I know. Jewell’s going to make them watch all the remaining episodes of the current series of Lost on Sky One, then force them to try to explain what the hell is going on.
It all fits together. If Jewell’s squad can explain how all of those random people came to be stranded on that desert island, then figuring out what are Derby are doing in the Premier League should be a breeze by comparison.
1. Derby: 9 (Gubba difference: +1)
2. Wigan: 7 (GD: +1)
3. Fulham: 6 (GD: +1)
4. Birmingham: 6 (GD: 0)
5. Reading: 5 (GD: +1)
6. Bolton: 4 (GD: +1)
7. West Ham: 4 (GD: 0)
8. Gubba: 3
9=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
9=. Chelsea: 3 (GD: 0)
11. Portsmouth: 2 (GD: +1)
12=. Sunderland: 2 (GD: 0)
12=. Millwall: 2 (GD: 0)
12=. Walsall: 2 (GD: 0)
15=. Everton: 1
15=. Middlesbrough: 1
15=. Newcastle: 1
15=. Cardiff: 1
15=. Wolves: 1
15=. Bury: 1
15=. Workington: 1
15=. Huddersfield: 1
15=. Grimsby: 1
(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)