By Jonathan Harries
Now we don’t normally do two of these but this but when Jon said he’d persuaded Ryan Ashford to answer his questions and they were good …how could we say no ?
Are you content with Derby’s start to the season?
Yes, content is about right. There was such an unknown about how we would start the season with a whole new team put together a few weeks before the opening game of the season that there was the potential for it to be a struggle this season. Having said that, I feel most of our players are championship level and we now have a manager who has a proven track record with getting Rotherham promoted every season he has been in L1 so we should be challenging. The general feeling from most supporters is that as long as we are challenging the top 6 throughout the season then the standard fans grumbles will be minimal.
We are struggling defensively with injuries/suspensions so I feel we need to get through the next few weeks without any more whilst we wait for key players such as Curtis Davies and James Chester to get back fit.
Are you happy with what you have seen so far under Paul Warne Or did you expect more?
As the song goes, we have the ‘League 1 Guardiola’ so he is very well thought of. In honesty we have changed our style from Rooney/Rosenior but I would say performances are similar. We have gone from possession-based football to, get the ball forward as fast as possible and shoot on site. I don’t think changing a philosophy will have instant results so I wouldn’t have expected any more, but I would like to think that come May we will have fully adapted to the division and be one of the better teams in the league.
Which players do you expect to cause problems for the Dons on Saturday ?
Nathaniel Mendez Laing. I think he has been fantastic since we signed him in the summer. He runs at defenders and takes them on and often gets the better of them. Whoever is playing left sided defence for you on Saturday will be in for a busy shift. I have seen your highlights this season and I have seen a lot of errors in playing it out from the back so I imagine a high press will be the way forward.
Are you happy with Derbys transfer activity from the summer and which signings have impressed you the most so far?
Well, we only kept 5 players from the Championship due to contracts being run down and being in administration so it’s effectively a whole new side from summer transfer activity. Besides NML, I have been impressed with Joe Wildsmith in goal and James Collins has thrived since Warne took charge being a focal point in our attacks.
Who or What made you support Derby? And what’s your highlight so far following the Rams?
My Dad took me to games when I was little and I’ve had a ST ever since. The glory years for me were definitely as a child when we were a decent PL team in the late 90s. Since then, it’s nearly always been season after season in the championship. The Lampard season (18/19) was a great season with the playoff victory at Leeds in the semi-final eclipsing almost every game I’ve ever been to.
What style of play can we expect to see from Derby on Saturday ?
Our general tactics under Warne are quite simplistic. Simply win the ball, and get the it out to the wide players as fast as possible who will sprint forward and cross it into the box for James Collins. Shoot on sight and players run themselves into the ground throughout the match. I don’t see it as long ball, its more breaking at speed.
If you could have any Dons player, who would it be?
Looking at your squad, we have already had 2 players in David Martin and Bradley Johnson. However, we are really short of defenders at the moment especially full backs/wing backs so I would probably take Daniel Harvie.
Have your expectations for the season changed after the off the field issues in the summer?
I’d like to think after a shocking 3 years of decline and uncertainty around the very existence of the club we have now reached rock bottom and the only way is up. So the short answer is yes. At the start of the season, we were looking simply to stabilise off the pitch and hopefully have a credible team on the pitch. Whereas now, we have a foundation to mount a promotion challenge even if that is playoffs.
Which Derby game are you most looking forward to this season?
Lots of new away grounds to go to and play teams we have either never played before or not for a very long time. If I could pick just one then it would be Bristol Rovers away.
The Dons have had a poor start to the season considering the highs that were achieved last season, where do you think the Dons will finish in League One this year?
I would have had MK Dons as a promotion contender at the start of the season so it’s a shock to see how far they have declined from missing out on automatic promotion on the last day of the season (to Paul Warnes Rotherham). Losing Twine and not replacing him seems to be where your issue is looking from the outside – although I would have had Grigg as a great replacement. I think you will stay clear of any serious relegation trouble but bottom half mid table would be my prediction from here – 15th.
With your off field issues you had to sell some of your younger talent at the start of the summer. Which player that left in your opinion could have had a good season at L1 level?
Festy Ebosele – A combination of what he did last season and our current shortage of full backs, I feel he would have ripped up league 1. He is built like a tank and has the speed of an Olympic sprinter. A young right back who loves the get forwards. Udinese ended up signing him on a free transfer.
Thank you for participating, it really helps us get a stronger understanding of the opposition! Finally, what do you think the score will be ?
Away from home this season we have played better but not got the results (complete contrast to the home games). However, with 6500 fans there on Saturday roaring them on then I can see us winning 2-0.
We’d like to thank Ryan for his answers. Thank you.