At the start of this season two Derby County players that most tipped to be offloaded were Alex Pearce and Chris Baird.
Pearce has been signed before the appointment of Paul Clement last season along with Baird.
It’s fair to say also that neither had a season to remember.
Baird was played in a few positions and the chopping and changing did nothing to help him settle into the team. He had been named as captain by Clement. After one poor game the Derby “Boo Boys” were soon on his back.
Despite retaining his place in the Irish national team, he soon fell out of favour at Pride Park.
Alex Pearce had come as a free agent from Reading. There was mixed reports via various so called “experts” on social media. The one that I trust down there for a good honest opinion had informed me that he was a decent reliable centre half.
Pearce found it difficult to get matches and was eventually loaned out to Reading ironically. Baird found himself at Fulham where he is somewhat a cult hero amongst some of their fans for a couple of goals he had scored from outside of the box.
Fast forward to this season and both players are currently playing important roles for the club.
Jason Shackell was off form earlier in the season and picked up a slight knock. Pearce was introduced to the league starting eleven and hasn’t looked back since. Well apart from when McClaren decided to drop him in favour of Shackell due to the latter’s performance in the cup tie at West Bromwich.
After the embarrassing display at Leeds, Pearce was soon recalled. The cup game with Leicester saw him own Jamie Vardy on more than one occasion.
Chris Baird came into the starting line up due to the injury to Cyrus Christie.
For those who claimed that he had nothing going forward, they soon saw how wrong that statement was with his pass to Tom Ince for Derby’s second goal in the 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
The other night against Leicester, I thought Baird was pick of the players on the pitch.
So there we have two very unlikely heroes and it just goes to show that letting your feet do the talking is sometimes the best way in which to respond to critics and/or anchor a place in the first team.