Derby County sacked Paul Clement last night in a rather surprising development from the Derby hierarchy.
I`m aware that things haven`t been great lately at the iPro Stadium, with The Rams currently on a run of seven games without a win. They are however, still well placed in the play-off positions and currently sit in fifth place.
Clement played for Derby in the mid-nineties and was appointed manager in the summer after stints as assistant manager with Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, PSG and Real Madrid. Initially having failed to win any of his first six games in charge, his side then went on a run that took the Rams to the top of the Championship. Having watched as Steve McLaren`s team imploded in the last two months of last season, Clement was seen by the board as being the ticket to promotion.
The Norwich connection to this story comes in the form of their midfield signing, Bradley Johnson. In a surprise transfer on deadline day last summer, Johnno was sold to the Rams for £6m – a fee that immediately made him Derby`s record signing.
Johnson started off well enough and although I wasn`t watching closely, I was aware that he scored three reasonably early goals for his new club. Often partnered with another ex-Canary, Jacob Butterfield, he also seemed to be getting some rave reviews from the Derby twitterati, I noted.
Good for him, glad the move is working out, I thought. I will be eternally grateful to Bradley for his goals last season, they were a massive part of our promotion campaign. His goal in the 2-0 home win against Ipswich last February will live long in my memory and I was right behind it too.
I just assumed that Johnno had carried on where he left off last season for Norwich when he had the season of his life – a season that left him valued at £6m after 15 goals from midfield and the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy under his arm.
I think we all remember though, that it wasn`t always that way. His first three years at Carrow Road were anything but so productive for the former Leeds man. In stark contrast to last season, he was often ineffective, not very mobile and he wasn`t much of a goal scorer, either. In the centre of the park, I`d be so bold as to say that he wasn`t good enough and when we were last in the Premier League he couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo, never mind the goal.
That now seems to be the case at Derby as his form has reportedly tailed off again, if Derby`s Twitter contingent are to be believed. He has been getting some pretty rough abuse from the Rams’ fans over his recent performances and Robbie Savage suggested in a veiled attack, that some players have only been in the side of late on reputation. I watched the recent FA Cup game against Manchester United and saw him just chasing shadows really. He didn`t affect the game much and he ended up being substituted with around half an hour to go.
There was a lot of moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth when Alex Neil said that the fee the club received for Johnson was too good to turn down. Plenty of City fans thought it was a bad move to sell him on despite the large fee on offer. I have to say that at the time, I could see the logic and even with our current predicament I don`t think that Bradley Johnson would be the answer for Norwich City, no matter what the question was.
Clement spent £6m on Johnson, a club record for Derby and just under £5m on Tom Ince – as far as I can see, neither of these big money signings have been proving that they were worth that sort of money and for the selling clubs, Norwich and Hull, it was certainly too good to turn down.
Clement has lost his job off the back of it too.
However, having said all that, and accepting that it was time he moved on, Johnno did have the season of his life last year and will always be held in high regard in Norfolk because of it. I hope it works out for him and that he can rediscover that form because if he can then Derby will have a helluva player on their hands in the Championship.