By Dave Smith
DERBY’S record in the FA Cup in recent years has not been great as they have only progressed further than the fourth round on one occasion in six years.
In fact, their record in the competition since they won it for the only time in 1946 has been very average. The odd semi final, a few quarter finals here and there – but nothing to write home about.
Yet that could all change and victory over an out-of-sorts Leicester would be a huge fillip for the Rams who are a team transformed under Steve McClaren in his second spell as manager.
Whilst Leicester’s only win in 2017 came in the FA Cup – a 2-1 victory against Everton at Goodison Park – Derby are looking tasty under Big Mac.
They are unbeaten at home since the former England boss’s return in October and, more impressively, the Rams have conceded just two goals in their last nine matches at the Pride Park Stadium.
Promotion, most probably via the play-offs, is obviously the priority for McClaren and his players – the success-starved fans too. But a good cup run doesn’t do any harm.
And Derby will fancy their chances tonight even though their record against their East Midlands rivals isn’t great: losing eight of the last nine meetings between the two clubs.
Claudio Ranieri, whose position has ludicrously been called into question given Leicester’s poor start and feeble defence of the Premier League title, is well aware of the threat Derby will pose.
Quoted on the BBC Sport website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38686583 – Ranieri said: “We need two or three results to get confidence. I feel good every time. Always, I am positive and I think about tomorrow.
“Derby play very well. Under Steve McClaren they are very full of confidence and they want to beat us.”
McClaren, meanwhile, leapt to the defence of his opposite number in the face of recent criticism, and said: “To question the manager’s job is ridiculous. But that’s modern-day sport, modern-day society. For me, Leicester are a team who can win, and should have aspirations to win, the FA Cup.
“Leicester wouldn’t have achieved what they did last season if it wasn’t for Ranieri and their future is brighter for it, because of Ranieri.”