Weblog: The football punter
Phillip Cocu has big problems at Derby
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It can take time for relegated clubs to adjust to their new environment but Cardiff put in a strong performance to draw 1-1 at home to Fulham two weeks ago and can follow it up with a victory over Derby at Pride Park Stadium.
The international break has been a mixed blessing for Cardiff manager Neil Warnock.
Influential Cardiff players Sol Bamba and Neil Etheridge are closer to making their returns after long layoffs but Warnock is considering leaving out Curacao international midfielder Leandro Bacuna, who was not expected back in the country until less than 24 hours before kick-off.
Making an enforced midfield change (Will Vaulks stands by to deputise) is far from ideal but Cardiff are gradually getting nearer to the standards they set when winning automatic promotion in 2017-18.
The Bluebirds started at a good tempo against Fulham and were harshly treated by the 1-1 half-time score.
After the break they were less impressive and failed to make the most of the extra man after Fulham's Harry Arter was sent off in the 68th minute.
It was a mixed bag from Warnock's side but they seem to be going the right way.
They same cannot be said for Derby, who are finding it tough the readjust to the losses of manager Frank Lampard and several key players.
The loan market was key for them last term with Chelsea duo Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount and Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson playing crucial roles.
They have tried to plug the gaps, bringing in Kieran Dowell, Matt Clarke and Jamie Paterson on loans from Everton, Brighton and Bristol City, but the overall quality of the first team and the squad has dipped.
It is a tough situation for Derby manager Phillip Cocu to inherit and he appears to be struggling.
Cocu's side have not won in the league since a 2-1 victory at Huddersfield on the opening weekend of the season and were lucky to get away with a 3-0 loss at Brentford before the international break.
The Bees carved Derby open time and time again, winning the shot count 22 to five, and should have won by a much wider margin.
Cocu has had the best part of two weeks to address the situation but may struggle to come up with any answers.
Questions over the depth of Derby's squad were raised four days before the Brentford debacle when a largely second-string Rams side lost 3-0 at Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup second round.
Pressure is steadily building on Cocu and the visit of Warnock's no-nonsense Cardiff is unlikely to improve the situation.