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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Davies rounds on Derby's critics
By Paul Fletcher

Derby County manager Billy Davies
Davies is proud of what his team has achieved this season
Derby County manager Billy Davies has hit out at the critics who have lambasted his team's failure to secure automatic promotion.

Davies, who took over last summer, has guided the team to third in the table and a Championship play-off semi-final against Southampton.

"There are plenty of experts who know what the game is all about but who have never sat in a dugout," said Davies.

"One or two outsiders don't appreciate the type of job we have had to do."

Davies has worked without an assistant manager all season and is keen to stress the hard work done by the rest of his backroom staff throughout the season.

If anybody was to write a report card on Billy Davies and his staff at this moment in time it would say very well done

Billy Davies

"We are very much understaffed in every department," he added. "But these guys have worked wonders and it is maybe time some people sat back and realised."

Derby finished the 2005-06 season in 20th position - and Davies is delighted with the progress made at the club in his first full season as manager.

"We have absolutely gone way beyond our expectation level," said the Scot, who set his players the target of a mid-table finish.

"What has happened here has been a fantastic achievement so far given that several of the previous six seasons had been spent in relegation battles.

"If anybody was to write a report card on Billy Davies and his staff at this moment in time it would say very well done."

SOUTHAMPTON v DERBY
First leg: Saints v Derby, St Mary's Stadium, Saturday 12 May, kick-off 1200 BST
Second leg: Derby v Saints, Pride Park, Tuesday 15 May, kick-off 1945 BST
The final will be played at Wembley on Monday 28 May

The Rams led the Championship table for much of the final stages of the season but lost two of their final four games to slip down to third place.

The decisive fixture came on 29 April, the penultimate weekend of the regular season, when his team lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace - a scoreline that sealed promotion for Sunderland and Birmingham and ensured Derby would have to settle for a play-off place.

But the 42-year-old Davies insisted: "We have not needed to lift the players at all.

"To be frank we did not think we would be in this sort of position for most of the season.

"There is no disgrace in narrowly missing out to clubs like Birmingham and Sunderland and we are the only club that has pushed both of them right to the wire.

If you can get through the semis and then win at Wembley, the play-offs is probably the best way of getting promoted

Billy Davies

"It is very easy to get people to talk you up or talk you down - what people cannot hide from are the facts and we finished a clear third."

Davies is preparing for his third successive play-off campaign at Championship level after taking former club Preston to the final in 2005 and the semi-finals last season.

The Rams manager does not believe that form or a team's final position at the end of the regular season is important in the play-offs.

"It is all about going into the games, performing on the day and getting the breaks," he stated.

"Experience helps greatly. Young players can come in but a calm head is what helps you through.

"My confidence going into those games is greater than it has been over the last number of weeks because experienced players such as Stephen Bywater, Darren Moore and Michael Johnson will be fit, as well as the likes of Stephen Pearson."

606: DEBATE

Months ago Davies booked a holiday, leaving for Dubai on 7 May. He has had to move that back but is in no doubt that it will be worth it if the Rams finish the season with promotion.

"I would say in all honesty that if you could get through the semis and then win at Wembley it is probably the best way of getting promoted," said the Rams boss.

"It is the most exciting way of securing promotion - if you could guarantee it would happen."



The Coca-Cola Football League Championship Table
30 January 2010 19:21
    P GD PTS
1 Newcastle 27 27 56
2 Nottm Forest 28 23 52

3 West Brom 27 26 50
4 Cardiff 27 22 45
5 Swansea 27 3 42
6 Sheff Utd 27 4 41

7 Blackpool 27 10 40
8 Leicester 26 2 39
9 Middlesbrough 28 7 37
10 Bristol City 27 -4 36
11 Preston 26 -2 35
12 QPR 27 -4 34
13 Doncaster 26 -1 33
14 Coventry 28 -8 33
15 Barnsley 26 -8 33
16 Scunthorpe 27 -13 33
17 Watford 26 -6 32
18 Derby 28 -11 32
19 Sheff Wed 28 -12 31
20 Crystal Palace 27 2 30
21 Ipswich 27 -8 29

22 Reading 27 -16 26
23 Plymouth 26 -14 24
24 Peterborough 28 -19 18


SEE ALSO
Southampton v Derby
11 May 07 |  Championship
Burley relishing Wembley double
11 May 07 |  Southampton
Championship play-off lowdown
10 May 07 |  Championship
Derby 2-0 Leeds
06 May 07 |  Championship
Crystal Palace 2-0 Derby
29 Apr 07 |  Championship


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