Signs are positive at Meadow Lane

Sunday 12th January 2014 21:27

Shaun Derry: Impressing after difficult start

Shaun Derry: Impressing after difficult start

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Notts County FanZoner Andrew Crawley discusses Shaun Derry's start to managerial life as County look to pull clear of League One relegation.

It is safe to say that 2013 was a year that, sadly, was more or less business as usual for Notts County fans.

There was disappointment as their early bid for promotion in the 2012/13 season faded away, worries over low crowds at Meadow Lane and yet more changes in the managerial hot seat.

Two changes in fact, as Keith Curle was axed after a year in charge in February and his successor, Chris Kiwomya, came and went within a period of nine months.

However, although they ended the year in the League One relegation places with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Crawley Town, 2014 has begun with a bang under manager Shaun Derry.

After a difficult start to his first job as a manager, Nottingham-born Derry is starting to work his magic at the club where he began his career nearly 20 years ago after two home wins in a row to kick-start the New Year.

After a 3-0 victory over Bradford City on New Year's Day, County followed this up with a vital 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Sheffield United to leave The Magpies just one point from safety.

With County having gone through ten managers in five years prior to his appointment, it looked as though Derry had taken on the impossible job at Meadow Lane.

However, it looks as though the former QPR midfielder is finally making his mark on the club, particularly on home turf where they are unbeaten in four games.

There is a greater sense of urgency among the players as Derry has installed more discipline within the team, a trait that some fans felt was missing under previous regimes.

Certain players are also showing signs of being revitalised in recent weeks after a tough start to the season.

Jamal Campbell-Ryce marked a man of the match performance against Bradford with a stunning individual goal and also played a key part in the win over Sheffield United.

Although Campbell-Ryce has performed steadily since his arrival in Nottingham, his final delivery has sometimes been lacking.

Centre-half Manny Smith, who has endured a frustrating period at County since his arrival 18 months ago, is also seizing his opportunity in the first team with two excellent performances since the turn of the year.

It is perhaps images such as this which have been one of the most pleasing outcomes of Derry's reign so far.

County fans were prepared for an orderly, no-nonsense approach from Derry upon his appointment, but it has been positive to see players who have had a stuttering start to life at the club being given a chance.

Enoch Showunmi is another who has begun to make an impact in recent games.

The former Tranmere frontman has been a frustrating and, at times, mock figure among County fans during his time at the club which, like Smith, has been ravaged by injury.

But with summer signing Danny Haynes struggling with form and injury and Yoann Arquin seemingly disregarded, Showunmi was given his chance over the festive period, and he is starting to reward Derry's faith in him.

He put in two solid performances against Bradford and Sheffield United, looking composed on the ball and grabbing the equaliser against Nigel Clough's side, meaning he is starting to win over the County faithful.

Here's hoping the Nigerian can maintain and build upon his current form and fitness.

So suddenly there is hope on the banks of the River Trent again.

There is no doubt that Derry faces a difficult task in maintaining a good run of form to get County moving up the table.

But there is no doubt he has the fans' backing.

Sitting among the 8,564 fans on Saturday at Meadow Lane, there was perhaps no greater sight than at the end of the game when Derry came over to thank the home supporters.

He pumped his fist zealously in celebration (and perhaps in relief too) at a hugely significant win, which drew huge cheers from the County fans.

Although passion alone will not make Derry a success, it emphasised a sense of much-needed togetherness at the club which will be vital in shaping his future.

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