ONE of the beauties of football is that it’s a game of opinion, and there are always plenty about a manager’s team selection.
Put four people in a room and ask them to pick the side and there’s a good chance you’d have four different line-ups.
I’ve been asked various questions about my choice against Northampton last Saturday, and whether I’ll stick with them when we go over the hill to play Oldham tomorrow.
I don’t make a habit of revealing my plans in advance, largely to keep the opposition guessing.
But I don’t mind explaining my methods, which are pretty simple really.
You always have to take the side you’re playing into account, because that can affect how you approach a game tactically and what shape you want your own side to take up.
Then there’s getting the right balance to the team, so that they can best carry out your tactical instructions.
A manager must also take into account the fitness and confidence of his players as well as obvious things like suspensions.
My selections have changed from match to match because of all the factors I’ve referred to, and most managers would say that in many cases, their best team is not actually made of their best 11 players.
As I’ve said, it’s all about opinion, and while mine might not always be right, I’m in the fortunate position of being the manager and therefore having the final say.
I was reasonably happy with the way we approached the Northampton game, although I’d clearly prefer us to have kept a clean sheet and won 3-0 rather than 3-2.
But getting those three points was important, and it’s put an extra spring into the step of the lads at training this week.
We’ve got a couple of big matches coming up, with Leicester City visiting us a week tomorrow.
They’ve responded well to their relegation from the Championship and made a strong start under a new manager, Nigel Pearson.
But first things first, and Oldham will present us with a tough test, having started the season very strongly under John Sheridan.
He’s fairly well established there now, having been manager in his own right for a couple of seasons after spending some time as Ronnie Moore’s right-hand man.
Sheza has clearly got his team playing some good stuff, because they have yet to be beaten in the league and have dropped only four points out of a possible 21, winning all three of their home games so far.
I can see him having a big future in management, and tomorrow’s game, as well as Leicester, will show us where we need to be at if we are to mount a challenge ourselves.
It won’t be easy over there, but it’s a derby and the kind of game professional footballers should relish being involved in.
I’m certainly looking forward to it, and if we play as I know we can and do it for the full 90 minutes, there’s no reason why we can’t be the first team to beat Oldham.
As a footnote, I’d just like to say how happy I am to have Liam Dickinson here for another month.
Derby have a 24-hour recall clause, which is automatic after the first month of a loan, but hopefully it won’t come into play.
Liam has been a real asset to us so far, and he’s getting sharper with every game, so we’re more than pleased to keep him.