The Tony Gale Column

Tuesday 2 February 2016 16:00

I think we can be quite happy with how our January transfer window went. We needed players so it was key to get the three lads in. I’ll have to be honest, I don’t know too much about Michael Madl and Zakaria Labyad, but they’ve clearly got qualities that Slaviša Jokanović believes will improve the team. We’ve also brought in Rohan Ince from Brighton, and he’s someone who knows this division. I believe he’s a second cousin of Paul Ince, a former colleague of mine at West Ham, and if he’s half as good as Incey and listens to his advice then he’ll be a super player. It was difficult with the transfer embargo that we couldn’t go and spend money on players, but with that in mind it was important that we kept players as well as bringing them in, and we managed to do that.

Our first opportunity to see the new boys in action is this Saturday when Derby visit Craven Cottage, and I think they’ve underachieved this season considering their business. They spent a fortune in the summer, and the chairman will be a little bit disappointed that he hasn’t had more of a return. If they end up in the Play-Offs I think they’ll look at it as some kind of failure as they wanted to go up automatically. The top two should still be their target with the money they’ve spent. I know Paul Clement well and no doubt he’d have had different kinds of problems going from being a coach with top-quality players at Real Madrid to being a manager in the Championship, so it’s a learning curve for him. They wanted to go up so they ploughed the money in, and if they don’t get promoted it could leave them a little bit in a conundrum for next season.

They haven’t won a league game since they beat us on Boxing Day, so it’s hardly promotion form they’re showing at the moment. They actually play on Tuesday evening against Preston as well and their target will be six points from their next two games as they’re taking on two teams in the lower part of the table.

From what I’ve seen of Derby this season, I think they can be guilty of passing the ball around too much. They haven’t mixed up their game enough for me, and they can be too patient sometimes. I like George Thorne in the middle of the park, I think he’s one of their better players. He scored against Manchester United last week and he’s a player Kevin Keen told me to watch out for when he was coaching him at West Brom. Bradley Johnson, who they got from Norwich, is a great player as well, so midfield is a strong area for them. The problem is getting the goals, and that’s what every team is paying big bucks for.

There’s 18 games left to play, and now that Jokanović has got some of his own players in we need to try and get as high up that table as possible. He knows the squad better now so hopefully they’re going to come on in leaps and bounds. There have certainly been some positives to take from the last few performances, so I don’t think we’re far off turning it around. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the prettiest, I just want to see us get some wins by hook or by crook.

Tickets for Saturday's game are still available to buy, priced from £25 adults and £15 juniors.

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