JOHN Metgod believes Derby County prove that big names do not ensure success, ahead of today’s clash with star-studded Birmingham City, writes DAVID BROOME.
The Blues boast the likes of ex-Valencia Copa del Rey winner Nikola Zigic, England international Jack Butland, former Premier League regulars Stephen Carr, Curtis Davies, Peter Lovenkrands and Marlon King, as well as young talents such as Nathan Redmond and Ravel Morrison.
Conversely, the Rams have just two players in their squad with experience of playing in the Premier League – strikers Conor Sammon and Chris Martin – and yet find themselves six places above their Midlands rivals.
And asked if he was surprised at Birmingham’s struggles, Metgod said: “If you look at the players they’ve got – players who are well known all over Europe – then yes.
“But big names don’t make a good team, and we are the proof of that.
“We haven’t got any big names in the squad, but on the day the only thing that counts is how you put in a performance as a team.
“They might have played in the Premier League, but it doesn’t give you any more chance of a result.”
The last four meetings between Derby and the Blues have produced at least three goals, with the clash at Pride Park earlier this season ending in a 3-2 win for the Rams.
Metgod said: “They’re always good games and it’s sort of a derby.
“There’s going to be a lot of tension and challenges and hard-fought battles on the pitch.
“We’re going to give it our best, as we do in every game.”
Sammon, who scored twice back in November, ended a barren run in front of goal with the opener in a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City on Tuesday night, and Metgod believes the Republic of Ireland forward has come in for some undeserved criticism.
He said: “Unfortunately it looks like if you’re a centre-forward, the only thing you’re judged on is scoring goals, and I’m sure there is more to football than that.
“I don’t think there are too many centre-forwards in the Championship who work as hard as Conor Sammon and who are as much of a team player.
“He knows that he might have scored a few more goals but that doesn’t take away from what he is doing for the team.
“People look at strikers too black and white.”
Derby arguably deserved all three points against the league leaders in midweek, but were ahead for less than 10 minutes as goalkeeper Adam Legzdins failed to claim a deep cross into the box and Craig Noone headed in the equaliser.
However, Metgod refused to lay any blame on the 26-year-old.
He said: “The hardest thing for a youngster is try and play consistently well.
“They will make mistakes, and they’ve got to learn from them.
“It was a hell of a cross, and if you put a ball in with that much pace it’s always going to be a very difficult ball to deal with.”