Former Quakes Overseas: Simon Dawkins with Derby County
I had the pleasure of chatting with Ollie Wright, who runs Derby County Blog, about former Quake Simon Dawkins. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter as well if you are interested in anything more Derby County related.
Simon Dawkins was arguably the only on field link produced in the Tottenham Hotspur partnership with the Quakes, and was an instrumental part of the Earthquakes 2012 Supporters Shield season. The Quakes were unable to come to an agreement with Dawkins and Tottenham, and Dawkins was not seeing any playing time with the Spurs, so he ended up bouncing around with a couple different English Championship sides. Derby County was seemingly the only team willing to give Dawkins regular playing time, so he ended up spending some time with them.
Anay: Overall, how would you rate Dawkins’ season? Is he a consistent first team player?
Ollie: Dawkins made 21 starts in total – 16 in the league – scoring five goals (three in the league). He also chipped in with five assists.
He missed several games due to undisclosed personal issues, which had an impact on his season – but facing strong competition from the likes of Johnny Russell, Jamie Ward and later the loanees Jordon Ibe, Tom Ince and Jesse Lingard, Dawkins was not a regular pick in any case. He started the first three league games, but was in and out of the team thereafter.
Perhaps the main problem for Dawkins was that he didn’t naturally fit into the then head coach Steve McClaren’s 4-3-3 system. When used, he would play in a wide forward role, but he’s not a winger and wants to come in-field, get on the ball and link up play. I’m not sure where he played for San Jose, but to me, his best position seems to be the number ten role.
Towards the end of the season, with injuries biting and the team’s form and performances having badly nosedived, he was given a chance in central midfield. He looked fantastic against Blackpool in a 4-0 win – but it should be pointed out that Blackpool were absolutely abject.
He also put in a good performance in a bizarre 4-4 draw at Huddersfield this April, chipping in with a well-taken goal and an assist, while picking up a wholly unjustified booking for one of the most neatly executed and fair sliding tackles I’ve ever seen.
Anay: Do you see Dawkins as a part of the future of the club? If Derby was to get promoted next year or the year after, would he still be a regular on the team?
Ollie: Personally, I like Dawkins as a player, because he’s a technician. He’s had a very unusual career, having been retained well beyond his youth team days by Tottenham Hotspur but never actually fielded by them. So even though he’s now 27, he’s still playing catch-up in terms of his career. Derby was the first English club to give him the chance of regular football – but so far, he hasn’t quite grabbed hold of it.
Anay: What is his contract situation? Is he looking for a move, or is there a chance that he is going to leave in the near future?
Ollie: Dawkins only has a year remaining on his contract and the head coach who signed him, McClaren, lost his job last week. Whether he stays now depends on whether he fits into the vision of McClaren’s replacement, Paul Clement.