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Deon moves back home - 16/12/2002

   Derby County
   Newcastle United

Deon switch showed how things move

Only two weeks ago, I was saying in this column how quickly things can change in football. I was referring to Deon Burton, who was back in our team and scoring goals. His excellent finish in last Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Watford has proved to be a farewell goal. Now he is a Portsmouth player and will be looking to help them to maintain their big lead at the top of Division One and book a place in the Premiership. I think all parties have been sensible on the deal. Deon was in the last few months of his contract and there was the opportunity to go to a club that looks set for promotion. The deal is good for him and helps the club from a financial point of view.

It is strange how things happen in football and a lot has happened to Deon this season. He was out on loan, then injured, then back in favour and scoring goals, and next minute on the way to another club. He did make a useful contribution in the games he played for us this season but now there will be more responsibility on Malcolm Christie as the senior striker and I’m sure he’ll thrive on that. Deon’s move also gives somebody else a chance to come in and stake a regular place. Everybody at the club wishes Deon well. He was popular in the dressing room and a good servant to the club. His goal against Watford helped us to secure three points.

Lee Morris’ early header settled us down but Watford gave us one or two things to think about in the first half. I was impressed with Jermaine Pennant. He has plenty of pace and caused us a bit of a problem. But we were dominant in the second half and thoroughly deserved the victory. Chris Riggott capped a good display with his first League goal at Pride Park, and the back three was solid throughout. And every time big Steve Elliott goes forward for a set-piece, he looks to be a threat to the opposition. I thought Craig Burley was excellent in midfield along with Rob Lee. They were strong and passed the ball well. We have not had the luxury of being two or three goals in front on too many occasions this season. We had that against Watford and it was nice for the team to relax and express themselves. The victory gave us a lot of confidence but it was vitally important that we backed it up with another three points against Brighton today.

Ruud is the in-form man

Ruud van Nistelrooy proved again in midweek what a fantastic striker he is. He scored both goals in Manchester United’s Champions’ League victory over Deportivo La Coruna. You can see now why United manager Sir Alex Ferguson paid £19m for him and why he was so patient during his time out with a serious injury. Quality always comes through in the end, and that goes for Manchester United. They were written off but have hit back with a run of fine victories against Arsenal, Liverpool and Deportivo. The Champions’ League looks wide open at the moment. Real Madrid are spluttering, Manchester United will fancy their chances and both Inter Milan and Barcelona are looking good. It is a shame Newcastle lost to Barcelona. They were missing some key players and the game was delayed 24 hours after a downpour had left the Nou Camp pich waterlogged. Though I’m sure the fans were not too down-hearted about spending another night in Barcelona!

Reserves on form

It was clear from watching the Reserve team’s excellent performance the other night that a number of the players are pushing to be in the first team. One of them is Adam Murray. He was outstanding and his hat-trick was a bit special. The lads have been asking if there is any chance of him repeating that on a Saturday! But there were a lot of good performances in the victory over West Ham United. Barry Molloy is playing out of position at centre-back and is doing a good job, although we’re not sure about his haircut at the moment! I think he must be a fan of Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg. I know I have said it before but Mark Lillis is doing a cracking job. He has always got a smile on his face but keeps the lads buzzing. He had every right to be pleased with what he saw the other night. The Gaffer and his staff are always at the Reserve team games and it has been proved already this season that if you have the right attitude, produce the goods on the pitch and show that you want to play for Derby County, he’s not afraid to give you a chance. There was another well-known face at Eton Park, Burton, that night. Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand was there to watch his brother, Anton, play for West Ham. That is great support by Rio.

Derby Evening Telegraph

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