Last time out the manager had almost a week with the players and now he's had another one. And this weekend is a test because Derby are seven points ahead of us and playing some fairly decent football or so I'm told.

I say that, because I'm not sure. I'm also not sure about Frank the Bank as a manager. He's had a decent start but there is an element of new manager syndrome and the players wanting to give that little extra for the celebrity. But time will tell and I could very well be wrong.

But enough about that although I'm sure there will be stories this weekend about John Terry meeting Frank Lampard in opposite dugouts.

It's about Dean Smith having had a little more time. The video below is nice, it gives a little insight. In it the manager talks about weaknesses in the Derby side and talking to defenders and showing them videos from other sides. There is something nice about that, mostly because I don't think we've had a manager before that would have done that.

There is so much video and data, it's possible to create very detailed opposition research and it's valuable. It's nice to hear. What's mostly nice is that it appears the manager has a head on his shoulders. I hope we see that in January and I hope we don't see five new players coming in.

I write that last part because you know I don't like change. Two players maximum and I think we're in a good place.

Anyway, this post is about Derby tomorrow and as usual I believe we can win. I'll be back then with a beer or two, because it's football on Saturday at 3pm, that's when a beer tastes best.

Match facts from the BBC

  • Derby County have lost just one of their last five home league matches against Aston Villa - a 6-0 defeat in April 2008.
  • Villa have won four of their last seven league games against Derby, but did not win either of last season's meetings.
  • Since losing 4-1 to Leeds in their opening home league game this season, Derby are unbeaten in seven games at Pride Park.
  • Villa are without a win on the road in the Championship since their opening weekend victory at Hull - and have lost their lost three.
  • Derby forward Jack Marriott has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six Championship appearances (five goals, two assists).
  • Villa head coach Dean Smith has already lost once at Pride Park this season, 3-1 in September with Brentford.

Press conference