Derby County’s first season under Frank Lampard didn’t end how we’d hoped, but still produced magical memories. The Rams’ new boss had to dip into his squad and would use 29 players in all competitions in 18/19. Here, Ryan Burton ranks every Derby first teamer* based on their performances over the season.
Mason Mount – 8.5
With maturity, craftsmanship and dexterity beyond his 20 years, Mason Mount delivered on the pre-season hype and proved why he’s been earmarked for the top. Massively influential despite missing 13 games – the Rams would’ve been midtable fodder without his 11 goals and six assists.
It’s no coincidence that Mount’s January injury coincided with our worst run of form all season. His replacement has a daunting act to follow. Forget the Rotherham hat trick, his box-to-box, virtuoso display at Elland Road in the play-offs was Mount’s season highlight.
Fikayo Tomori – 8.5
From the three loanees, who would’ve picked Fikayo Tomori to be Player of the Season? Only a bold betting man. But as games came thick and fast, the 21-year-old became a fan favourite as he slowly but surely grew into the campaign. With composure on the ball, pace to burn and outstanding bravery, it’s been a privilege to watch him flourish in Derby’s back four.
Harry Wilson – 8
Wilson’s 18 goals saw the Welsh Wizard finish as Derby’s top marksman. The 22-year-old was vital for his goals and set pieces, but Wilson did occasionally let games pass him by when it wasn’t going Derby’s way. However, with a handful of worldie free kicks, long-range screamers and emphatic spot kicks to cherish, we’ll let him off.
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Richard Keogh – 8
The 32-year-old has always divided opinion, but even Keogh’s biggest critics can’t deny he put a massive shift in this season. Having played all but 18 minutes of Derby’s 57 games, Keogh’s fitness and commitment can only be commended. More consistency, fewer erratic errors and a Beckenbauer-esque assist against Leeds means our captain has enjoyed one of his best campaigns in a Rams shirt.
Jayden Bogle – 8
Academy poster boy Bogle has been this season’s feel good story. Having ended last season in the under 18’s, the right back goes into this summer having amassed 50 first team appearances, two goals and nine assists from an incredible breakthrough campaign. No wonder the Premier League clubs are sniffing around after his stratospheric rise. Can we hold on to him? Either way, it’s a win-win.
Jack Marriott – 7.5
At the start of the season most would’ve taken 13 goals from Marriott as he stepped up from League One. From deft chips against Norwich and Leeds to inch-perfect finishes at Stamford Bridge, we’ve seen enough to know we’ve got one of the league’s most clinical finishers – which makes his stop-start campaign all the more frustrating. Hopefully he’ll put those much talked-about fitness issues behind him over the summer and hit the ground running in August.
Martyn Waghorn – 7.5
If we judged on the first half of the campaign, then Waghorn was far from ‘a snip’. But as the season progressed, the 29-year-old cemented his place in the side, bagged a first career hat trick along with important goals against Birmingham and West Brom which fired Derby into the play-offs. Looked reborn in the central striker role and must play there next year.
Duane Holmes – 7
An unknown quantity when he first arrived, diminuitive Duane endeared himself to fans as soon as he broke into the team. Impressing both centrally and on the flanks, there’s a buzz of excitement whenever the energetic American gets on the ball. Certain to be a key figure next season.
Mason Bennett – 7
A season to remember for ‘Bizzle’. After bursting into the Derby first team at just 15, it’s taken until now for the 22-year-old to start to show us what he’s about. From super sub heroics against Reading and Hull to the downright audacious against Wigan, 18/19 will be remembered as the season that Mason ‘one of our own’ Bennett made his long awaited mark on this team.
Scott Malone – 7
Had to bide his time for a place in the starting XI but following Fozzy’s injury, Malone took the left back spot and put together a string of encouraging displays. Goals against Wigan and West Brom along with a couple of assists highlighted his attacking capabilities but the 28-year-old looked prone to a defensive lapse on a few occasions. A solid first season nonetheless.
Bradley Johnson – 7
Johnson’s eventful season tells two stories.The first half saw inconsistency and too much bite (sorry) at Stoke, while the second half saw him claim a regular spot in the Derby midfield. An end of season resurgence yielded 15 consecutive starts, some gritty performances – and to the shock of some fans, an extension to his contract (though FFP may have been a consideration).
Kelle Roos – 6.5
How many would’ve had Kelle Roos in goal for the Championship play-off final? The 27-year-old’s transformation from cup keeper to number one was a curveball to say the least. And while the world’s most expensive game was not the best time to drop a clanger, the Dutchman’s 23 other games showed signs of growth, improvement and consistency. Deserves a new deal, but will need to work his way back to number one next season.
Tom Huddlestone – 6.5
It has never been in question whether or not Tom Huddlestone is a good footballer. His passing range and composure on the ball ranks as one of the best in the Championship but his lack of mobility left us overrun in midfield at times. Despite his undisputed talent, the 32-year-old looked occasionally lost in Lampard’s swashbuckling system, especially during the second half of the season.
Ashley Cole – 6.5
Time waits for no man – even if you’re England’s greatest left back. But even at 38, Cole showed he could still cut it. An admirable set of no-frills performances in 12 games made Frank’s decision to bring him in more than justified. A goal at Brighton in the FA Cup defeat would send the Football Manager community into a wild football hipster frenzy.
Tom Lawrence – 6.5
What do you do with a player like Tom Lawrence? Many were expecting the 25-year-old to kick on in his second season, but irritating inconsistencies often outweighed his magic moments. Six goals and four assists are not the numbers of a star man. Thronkers against Leeds and West Brom showed the talent is there – we just need to see it more.
Craig Forsyth – 6.5
Before another cruel injury ended his campaign in November, Forsyth was starting to hit his stride in this Derby side. Four assists in 13 was a decent return and showed that each delivery was getting better with every marauding run. A delightful cross for Jack Marriott in the 2-1 win against Sheffield United was worthy of any highlight reel.
Scott Carson – 6.0
Having been Derby County’s Mr. Consistency for four seasons, it was surprising to see Carson’s form dip so dramatically. The 33-year-old’s campaign wasn’t a disaster, as there weren’t many howlers, but it was clear that the former England stopper struggled to adapt to Lampard’s play from the back system. Losing his number one spot indicates a changing of the guard.
Craig Bryson – 6
All good things must come to an end, and no truer words could be spoken when it comes to Craig Bryson. Endless running and jaeger chugging will always hold a place close to our hearts, but at 32, Bryso lacked the cutting edge and extra yard of pace across the majority of his 33 appearances. An incredible servant… but time to move on?
David Nugent – 5
Nobody can fault Nugent’s endeavour and commitment, but this season has shown his time at Championship level is up. With two goals and as many assists to his name, the 34-year-old worked hard with little reward in the opposition box. A fantastic character and a long-standing advocate of the bounce – we wish Nuge well after his release.
George Evans – 5
Another one of Lampard’s summer buys, Evans’ debut in August lasted less than 30 minutes before he picked up a knee injury. A set of laboured performances in midfield around Christmas led to some more time out of the match day squad. His colossal performance at centre back in the win at Bristol City won him admirers, but generally struggled for consistency and couldn’t hold down a place.
Andre Wisdom – 5
Started the season as first-choice right back – ended it outside the matchday 18. His 13 appearances in league and cup weren’t laden with errors, but Wizzer looked a shadow of his former self when given a rare outing. However, a solid three game spell at left back means he did contribute to some of our success.
Florian Jozefzoon – 4.5
Lampard’s first permanent signing endured a frustrating first season. Displayed flashes of brilliance early on, including a venomous strike against Hull in the cup. There was also a bundled equaliser in the Norwich epic, but a final tally of three goals and one assist shows how quickly the Dutchman’s performances fizzled out.
* Not ranked due to lack of games: Curtis Davies, Andy King, Max Lowe, Max Bird