Frank Lampard must take a portion of the blame for Derby County strikers Martyn Waghorn and Jack Marriott failing to make any meaningful impact in recent months.
The duo arrived at Derby in the summer of 2018 under then-manager Lampard.
The duo scored a combined 19 goals last term as Derby reached the playoff final.
This season, however, they have scored just five goals combined. Two of those were penalties, and since late August they’ve only managed one goal between them.
Why are Jack Marriott and Martyn Waghorn struggling so badly?
Some will point the finger at new manager Phillip Cocu. Under the Dutchman’s tenure, the Rams have won just four from 14 league games and the playing style hasn’t been great.
Yet, there are clear mitigating reasons for Derby’s struggles beyond Cocu.
A closer look at Marriott and Waghorn’s past shows both players performed far better in a forward two. Neither are natural lone strikers evident by their lack of an all-round game.
It begs the question as to why Frank Lampard signed them both when his ideal system of 4-3-3 evidently didn’t play to the strengths of either player.
Lampard could get away with it last season. Derby had Mason Mount and Harry Wilson providing the creativity from deep – two top quality Premier League loan stars.
Derby fans lauded Marriott’s finishing ability last term. With Mount and Wilson for company, Marriott was being fed quality passes on a weekly basis. This season, he is relying on Tom Lawrence, Duane Holmes, Kieran Dowell, Florian Jozefzoon and Jamie Paterson to fill the void. Those five players have just five assists between them all season.
Waghorn is in a similar boat. Last season, he was often pushed out wide right to accommodate Marriott in the middle, but it didn’t matter as he was still being fed chances.
Now, the former Ipswich Town must do other people’s job an act as a creator. His 71.2% pass accuracy rate is Derby’s worst for an outfield player, and only Lawrence and Dowell average more unsuccessful touches per game. Simply put, Waghorn isn’t a suitable wide player.
But what are Cocu’s options? The former PSV man took over a Derby team seriously lacking in quality following Lampard’s departure to Chelsea in early July.
He had next-to no pre-season to work with the players and judge their ability. Moreover, he seemingly had players thurst on him by a questionable recruitment team.
There is no way Cocu spent his time prior to arriving at Derby studying clips of Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth and Bristol City in action to know anything about Krystian Bielik, Matthew Clarke and deadline day signing Paterson.
The Rams have a big job on their hands in the coming transfer windows. Cocu must receive backing to succeed, and players who fit a system he wants to implement.