£3M? IT COULD PROVE A SNIP!
THREE million quid is a serious outlay for any Championship player, let alone a centre-half the wrong side of 30.
Yet Derby’s determination to prise Jason Shackell from Burnley’s grasp makes perfect sense in light of last year’s catastrophic meltdown.
Top in March, the Rams crunched into reverse and eventually contrived to miss the play-offs altogether – a slide that condemned poor Steve McClaren to Newcastle.
It was a spectacular balls up, but not altogether unexpected to Pride Park regulars. Why? Because Derby were the Championship’s answer to Amir Khan – fluent and dangerous on the attack but a spaghetti-legged mess the moment anyone landed a decent shot.
Many times I saw their young side buffeted and bullied, their soft centre eviscerated and their fragile confidence shattered. They weren’t a bad team – far from it – but they weren’t a tough one.
Yes, the injury to Chris Martin wreaked havoc, but the loss of Jake Buxton – a technically limited but hard-as-nails centre-half – in March should not be underestimated.
Which is where Shackell comes in. The 32-year-old has seen it all at this level, including Derby with whom he spent a season in 201112. Tough, rugged and ice cool under pressure, Shackell has captained every side he has represented since the age of 24 and that totemic leadership was integral to Burnley’s promotion in 2014.
He is the granite jaw Derby needed during last year’s disintegration. Had he arrived last summer, they might now be £120m richer. Suddenly, that £3m doesn’t look so crazy.
GRANITE: Jason Shackell