Player of the year- Jason Shackell
Jason Shackell signed for £750,000 from South Yorkshire side Barnsley. When he arrived at Pride Park in the summer he was immediately handed the captain’s armband due to Shaun Barker’s absence through injury. It didn’t take him long to settle in as he scored, captained and inspired the Rams to victory on opening day against Birmingham. Having only saw him a few games I knew he was a good signing, similar to Barker a solid defender. His form was key in Derby’s early season form playing alongside academy product Mark O’Brien. Shackell is a left-footed centre half which is considered unusual. Even before Shaun Barker returned from injury he was tipped by many to form a good defensive partnership with him and they were not wrong. In November ,when captain Barker returned from injury, Nigel Clough finally got the opportunity to pair the two highly rated centre halves. Shackell continued his consistent form with Barker becoming key players in Derby’s good run of form over the Christmas and New Year period. In the second half of the season he has showed why exactly he’s proved his three quarters of a million pound price tag. We see many players put in a great performance one week then a poor display another but with Shackell ,likewise with Barker, you know what you get- a good, solid accomplished performance. In March Shaun Barker suffered a terrible knee injury ruling him out for the rest of the season and the whole of next meaning the great defensive partnership would have to end and Shackell would captain the Rams. Jake Buxton was the inevitable choice to play alongside Shackell. In the past three seasons a summer signing of that season has won the player of the year award and that should happen again for me. I’m sure Shackell will be a key player again for the Rams and it will be interesting to see if Derby do sign a new central defender due to Shaun Barker’s absence.
Young player of the year- Jeff Hencrick
Graduating from the Rams’ academy, the Irishman last season he made a few substitute appearances and was a regular for Derby’s reserve and youth sides. Making the step up from reserve and academy football to the second tier of English football can’t be easy but Hendrick has done a good job. Nigel Clough has showed a lot of faith in the Irish youngster, who has played over 30 times or Derby this season. He’s not looked out of place in the Championship this season, looking just as comfortable as anyone else. Derby clearly have a player who could be in the Rams team for year’s to come. From youth team football to Championship, considering that he must win this award.
Most improved player of the year- Gareth Roberts
Last season we have to admit that we all though Roberts was poor and in all fairness he didn’t have a good season but this season we have noticed a huge difference in him. His performances in a Derby shirt are far better this season becoming a regular in Nigel Clough’s side. Thinking back to last season he was so inconsistent, a good game here and a sloppy game there, but we’ve not seen that season. I didn’t think he was capable at this level but this season he has proved that he’s good enough and can be a key member of the team.
Goal of the season- Jeff Hendrick V Forest, 17th September 2011.
This was an easy choice for me. A young 19 year old who had never played in a game like it had missed an easy header just minutes before he placed this wonder strike in the goal. I do t think any Derby fan will ever get tired of watching that goal. I could of chose Jake Buxton’s winning goal against Forest in March but beating your rivals away from home with 10 men is just sensational. No Derby fan will ever forget that goal.
Now for some slightly different awards-
The love him or hate him award (sponsored by Marmite)- Theo Robinson
You might be thinking ‘What Theo ! We all love him’ but did we at the start of the season? No we didn’t – most of us hated him. I though Nigel Clough had made a mistake signing him permanently because last season ,whilst on loan, he didn’t really show anything to deserve that. Earlier in the season, His touch was like an elephants (let’s be honest) and he could never score. It took him a while to convince me that he was a good striker at this level. Earlier in the season he got plenty of stick from the stands and on twitter but he has proved many of those critics wrong. He doesn’t score great goals but he is Derby’s top goalscorer, he score’s what’s know to me as a ‘Typical Theo goal’ – usually scrappy or right place at e right time. At parts of the season his finishing has been woeful but it is fair to say now that we love him. He doesn’t not put a foot wrong but he’s a miles better player. I did t give him my ‘most improved player of the year’ award because he wasn’t at Derby for that long last season. Now you can go to Pride Park on a Saturday afternoon and expect to hear chants of ‘THEO, THEO, THEO !’ and not hearing ‘Theo is f*****g s**t’.
The flop of the season award- Chris Maguire
It maybe is a bit unfair to tag Chris Maguire with ‘flop of the season’ because he hasn’t been given a chance but when he signed he looked to be an excellent signing. When he signed we searched him on YouTube and found him scoring goals from the halfway line and we thought ‘what a player we’ve got here’. But ultimately all the hassle signing him (compensation, big fee, Motherwell reluctant to sell) just to see him in a few games is very disappointing. When loaned at to Portsmouth he has proven what he can do at this level, I do hope he still has a future at Derby and can be given a chance.
The Lionel Messi like moment of the season- Jamie Ward V Forest, 17th September 2011.
He picked up the ball and skipped past 3-4 Forest defenders ,putting it through one of their legs, sprinted through into the Forest penalty area and beat Lee Camp at his near post. That was the equalising goal in that famous 2-1 win with 10 men. Jamie Ward has showed plenty of quality this season an that run and goal proves exactly why he was signed and a key man in the squad.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know