Opposition View: Rams Review Podcast
Luton host Derby County this Saturday with the Hatters trying to complete that illusive nine-point week for the first time since our return to the Championship. We spoke to Cory Hancock, of the Rams Review Podcast, to get the lowdown on the Rams...
Tell us a bit about you and your Rams supporting background…
I’m Cory and I am the co-host of the Rams Review Podcast. I live just outside Washington D.C., in a town called Manassas, Virginia. As an American supporter, I do not get to the matches every week, although I do travel once or twice a year (when there is no pandemic!) to watch The Rams. Why Derby? My dad is from the area and I still have family there. I grew up with stories of Derby legends and that coupled with being football mad, led me to my passion for Derby.
The Derby County situation has been widely reported, with the Rams receiving a total of 21 points of deductions. Despite this, with around a third of the season to go, there is still a chance of staying up. Just how pleased are you with how the season, at least on the pitch, has gone so far?
I’m extremely happy with the way things are going on the field. The squad is performing well, despite the small size and amount of young players we are having to turn to. It sounds crazy but I’m over the moon to be third bottom of the league. The players are working hard and playing for one another, which is something we’ve not seen in a while at Derby. It’s crazy to think that despite a -21 point deduction, we are still in with a chance of survival. It would a marvelous achievement to survive.
Wayne Rooney replaced Philip Cocu as manager of Derby after a torrid start to the 2020/21 season, steering the Rams to safety in dramatic fashion on the final day. That form has continued into this season, transforming the team into a comfortable mid-table side on the pitch. How have the Rams fanbase taken to Rooney in his 16 months in charge?
In all honesty, Rooney looked a bit out of his depth last season but this year he’s been fantastic. The fan base is really behind him. He’s dealt with a lot of adversity in his short managerial career and he has handled everything with class and dignity. He’s galvanized this squad and has instilled a siege, “us against them” mentality. With everything going on off the field, Rooney has been great for this club. The fans are 100% behind him. It would have been easy to walk away (or leave to another job) but Rooney’s remained loyal. He has all the attributes to be a top manager.
Some people feared a mass exodus in the January transfer window, with the administrators potentially selling off key footballing assets in order to provide vital cash flow for the club. However, this didn’t happen and the team was kept pretty much intact for an important time in Derby’s history. Amongst all the young and experienced faces, who would you say are the “Ones to Watch” for Derby on Saturday?
Jason Knight has already played over a hundred matches for The Rams and is a full Irish international. He will work his socks off. Krystian Bielik is a key figure in midfield. The Polish international is getting a run in the team after recovering from an ACL test last season (his second in two years). When he’s playing well he is dominant and a class above this level. Winger Festy Ebosele is a live wire. The strong and pacy winger causes all sorts of problems for defenses. He’s an Irish U-21 international but a full call-up cannot be far away.
Luton and Derby played out a well-fought 2-2 draw at Pride Park back in October, in a match-up that had seen the home side take all three points on each of the previous four occasions. What have you made of Luton this season, and how they have continued that consistent progression at this level?
When you look at Luton’s rise through the league over the past decade, it’s very impressive. I’ve been impressed with them so far. They are a very tough team and play some decent football. Luton might not be the most fashionable place to play football but they are well run and play for one another. It’s great to see them in a high league position.
Time for some predictions - who do you think will (i) get automatic promotion, (ii) make the playoffs, and (iii) get relegated?
Automatic: Fulham and Bournemouth
Playoffs: Boro, Blackburn, Forest, Huddersfield
Relegation: Barnsley, Peterborough, Hull
Finally, give us your score prediction for Saturday’s game…
I think it’ll be a hard-fought game. Derby lost against Millwall and normally we have bounced back after a defeat. We need every point we can get and I would anticipate we will give it a good go. Derby to win 2-1!
With thanks to Cory Baxter of the Rams Review Podcast. For more, you can find them at @ramsreview1 (Twitter) or ramsreviewpod (Instagram).