Rams look to impress new boss
Nigel Clough might not be responsible for picking Derby County's Carling Cup semi-final team tonight but, if he's anything like his father, just his presence may inspire the Championship strugglers.
It may be unfair on Nigel, but he is always going to draw comparisons to the late, great Brian Clough and there is no doubting that Rams fans and board members alike are hoping he is a 'chip off the old block'.
But while Old Big 'Ead guided Derby to Division One (the Premier League predecessor) glory and a European Cup (the Champions League predecessor) semi-final, the younger Clough would be seen as an instant hero if he halts County's poor run of results.
The desperation comes after the past year and a half has seen nothing but doom and gloom for the Derby faithful, as the club embarrased themselves in the Premier League before failing to make any sort of impact on the Championship.
So far this season, the Carling Cup has provided some respite from miserable performances but, in reality, the tie against World Club Cup champions Man Utd looks to be the end of the road for Derby.
However, tonight's first leg at Pride Park, in which academy boss David Lowe takes charge, is sure to be an emotional evening - one that Man Utd may find more difficult than expected.
The home fans will turn out in force to welcome Clough as well as cheer on their favourite 7/1 underdogs against 4/9 shots United, and who knows, maybe a shock is possible.
Derby's players will be looking to impress and they do have some talented individuals that know where the net is.
Nathan Ellington (8/1 first goalscorer) is the Carling Cup's top scorer this season, Rob Hulse (9/1 FS) has finally managed to get back to full fitness and is a real handful, while Kris Commons (12/1 FS, 5/1 anytime) can be deadly with his set-piece delivery.
The biggest problem Derby could face is getting hold of the ball for long enough to create chances as United, first team regulars or fringe players, know how to keep the ball and create chances against anyone.
Carlos Tevez makes his return and the 4/1 first goalscorer shot looks great value to add to his tally following an amazing four goal haul against Blackburn in the last round.
Sir Alex will probably leave his big-hitters out so Rooney, Ronaldo and Berbatov could make way for Danny Welbeck, Rodrigo Possebon and Darren Gibson to form an inexperienced but talented line-up.
There is an open look about the two sides as both enjoy getting the ball down and playing football although, judging from County's 4-3 FA Cup win against lowly Forest Green at the weekend, they also struggle at the back.
It all makes the 8/13 about over two total goals an absolute banker.
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