Teams: Derby County, Burton Albion
Roller Coaster First Half
When asked for a word to sum up the first half of his first season as manager of Derby County, Phil Brown sat back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling before gazing down at his desk to find the answer.
There in front of him sat a set of notes from a presentation he had given to his players titled "Managing the Uncertainty".
"Uncertain is the word I would use," said Brown who became the Rams' fourth manager in less than four years when he took over the hot seat at the end of June.
Five League games unbeaten at the start left him wondering what all the fuss was about when it came to management.
He soon discovered the other side of the coin when a nightmare sequence of one win in 15 piled on the pressure. The hot seat had burst into flames but these have been partly extinguished by a mini revival of four matches undefeated.
This has left Brown's team 14th in the Championship with 26 points from five wins and 11 draws.
A mixed bag, then, of disappointments but also some promise of better days ahead.
"All the uncertainty has been the most difficult part of the job so far," said Brown.
"The uncertainty that the supporters have in me and the uncertainty that the directors have had in me because I am new to management.
"You have to win people's confidence and instil your methods on the football club.
"There was also the uncertainty of the loan signings coming in and also because we have had 16 debutants and used 30-odd players already this season."
Brown has endured a tough baptism.
He had only a matter of weeks to rebuild the squad and assemble a new backroom team before the season kicked off.
He then lost key striker Grzegorz Rasiak hours before the transfer window slammed shut - a huge blow.
Rasiak was the focal point of the attack, whether in a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 system, and he has not be replaced despite numerous forwards arriving on loan.
Brown has been forced to use the emergency loan system but has done so too often. Most of the new faces have been no better than the players already here.
The aim now is to make permanent signings in January in a bid to give the team and squad a more settled look.
Brown believes the past few months has given him a valuable grounding.
"I'm sure it will help me in years to come," he added. "Next time I hit a run of one win in 15 - and hopefully it will not happen again - I can call on the experience of having been through it before."
The roller Tcoaster ride has taken him from the high of his first win as manager - a 2-0 success at Plymouth in August - and plunged him to the lowest point, a 3-0 home mauling by Wolves.
Was there any stage when he considered walking away?
"No, never would be," said Brown. "I have seen some managers walk away from situations and I wondered why but that's life and everybody is different.
"I'm sure the highs and lows will be ongoing. It is a never-ending jigsaw."
Having reached the halfway point of the season, Brown is expecting comparisons with the teams of George Burley and even John Gregory in recent campaigns.
For the record, Brown is behind the pace being set by Burley's side 12 months ago but ahead of where Burley's side were in 2003-04.
Green shoots of recovery can be seen, though he will need to manage more uncertainty next month when new players arrive and others possibly depart.
"Players coming in will have to get to know me, the coaching and backroom staff, the other players and the club, so there could be a bit more uncertainty," said Brown. "Hopefully, amid all that, is a platform to move forward.
"The play-offs would be a lovely achievement. How far away is that? A long way away at the moment but we just want to get into January with a platform from which we can push on."
Originally Posted by Nico
I dont belive in jinxing mate, I do belive in playing at home with a 2-0 advantage against a team which I cant see scoring 2 goals!
Of course, if we lose, I'll never admit it was me who wrote this.
Forest 2-5 Yeovil aet
Brian Clough - Legend!