Nigel Clough: Our aim is still the same
NIGEL Clough is happy for others to talk up Derby County's top-six credentials.
The Rams are 10th and only four points outside the play-off places ahead of tomorrow night's home game against Hull City.
Clough insists the aim of a top-half or top-10 finish at the start of the season has not changed and the manager says the focus is on maintaining performances.
Asked if the Rams were dark horses for the top six, Clough replied: "Very dark horses – there's a long way to go.
"We've got an honest bunch and that gives us great cause for optimism for the future but we'll let others get carried away and focus on what we need to do."
Derby's season reaches the halfway point tomorrow and they are looking to establish themselves in the top half.
"Although there are a lot of teams in there, we want to be in there, in that chasing pack," said Clough, whose team halted a run of four consecutive away defeats by beating Bristol City on Saturday.
"When you are in that top half, you know you are not going to be far off the play-offs.
"But we also know that life in the Championship can be pretty fragile.
"You can go from winning a couple of games to losing two or three on the spin and suddenly you are back down in 16th or 17th.
"Our aim remains as it was at the start of the season – to be a top-half team and see where that takes us.
"It is progress to get into that group and not far from the top six."
Derby have collected 33 points from 22 matches.
"It is all about results and points but we feel the performances and the way we are playing has improved probably more significantly than the points return shows," said Clough.
"If we can repeat what we have done in the first half of the season, great, but that will largely depend on injuries, on what happens in January and so on.
"We just want to keep doing what we're doing and see if we can stay in the top half.
"That's our first aim and credit should go to the players for what they've achieved so far because they've given everything in the first half of the season and to be four points off the top six goes to show that."