Nigel Pearson will have woken up on Sunday morning and his Derby County team are 19th in the table after only one win in six, looking up at Newcastle United in second place with five wins in a row in all competitions.

However, according to Nigel Pearson there are very small margins between success and failure.

Indeed, the Derby Manager claimed that, ‘We had looked the team most likely to go in front’ and that ‘for the whole of the first half we had some positive moments’.

Nigel Pearson must have been watching a very different game to me…as Derby County offered virtually no threat to the Newcastle goal throughout the game and Matz Sels didn’t really have to make a save.

It was very much like the away win at Bristol City, this time Newcastle took the lead a minute later (20th minute) and then sat back and asked Derby County what they could do.

The answer was, very little, and as the Rams were forced to come out a bit in the second half, Newcastle then started causing a series of problems on the counter-attack, with Mohamed Diame in particular doing all the hard work and then fluffing the final effort.

Derby had maybe a five minute spell in the second half when Newcastle caused themselves problems by dropping too deep – but still, the home side struggled to get any efforts on target.

It might not be pretty at time but Rafa Benitez’ strategy of killing off games is looking damned effective.

The players are clearly responding to the good habits being drilled into them and only individual mistakes looked likely to undermine Rafa’s plan on Saturday.

More of the same please on Tuesday night at Loftus Road.

Nigel Pearson:

“Another frustrating day but in a different way to the Burton game.

“Our application was good and we took the game to our opponents but unfortunately for us, conceded a goal probably when we were causing them quite a few problems.

“I thought we were very positive with how we started the game and really for the whole of the first half we had some positive moments.

“We had looked the team most likely to go in front and so it was a difficult one for the players to deal with when they went behind.

“I cannot fault the application – The Burton game was to do with desire and application, today that was not the case.

“The second goal takes a bit of perspective out of our performance, as 2-0 sounds a lot worse.

“We showed endeavour but not always with the quality we need.”

(To watch both Newcastle goals v Derby go HERE)

(To view the collective Newcastle fans player ratings and to add  your own go HERE)

(To read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to the 2-0 win go HERE)