While Nigel Clough has generally done an extremely good job on a limited budget, it’s fair to say that he has made the odd clanger in the transfer market – as every manager does.
However, with very little money available at Pride Park, it’s vitally important that every penny spent this summer is made to count. If a new signing fails to perform, whether due to a lack of form, injuries, or inability to settle, there will probably be no opportunity to recruit a replacement until the following season.
Mercifully, the majority of Clough’s purchases to date have proved to be successful, but the reality is that if he signs two or three turkeys during the next transfer window, we’ll be struggling for the whole season to come, as good players like Paul Green, Steve Davies and James Bailey head towards the exit.
Let’s hope that the likes of Michael Jacobs turn out to be as good as Shackell, Brayford, Fielding, Ward and Bryson, not as bad as the five Clough clangers listed here…
1) CHRIS MAGUIRE (£470,000, Aberdeen) Something went badly wrong here. Derby publicly chased the highly-rated Maguire for months before finally agreeing a deal with Aberdeen, much to the chagrin of their manager Craig Brown. The reported fee – £470,000 – was a good chunk of Derby’s transfer budget and turned out to be a very poor investment.
Maguire managed his first Championship goal in a routine home win against Portsmouth, but then had an absolute stinker in the next game against Cardiff and was hooked off at half-time, never to appear in the starting eleven again.
Conspiracy theories have abounded – the most plausible being that the staff didn’t feel they could rely on Maguire to follow instructions in the games – but whatever the real reasons, it was very important that he moved on this summer.
Unfortunately, the Rams were only able to recoup around half of the amount they spent on the player from Sheffield Wednesday, but at least that money went towards the signing of Michael Jacobs. Apps 3 (5) Goals 2
2) LEE CROFT (Free transfer, Norwich City) Had done well at Norwich City, albeit in a team relegated to League One, but never looked the part at Derby after joining on a free transfer. Has garnered more attention for his choice of partner and bizarre appearances on Sky Sports TV than his football in recent seasons.
Croft proved to be a very poor investment and the fact that his initial three-year contract had to be extended to the end of the coming season on a lower wage is galling – and not something the club was keen to publicise… Apps 21 (9) Goals 1
3) NATHAN TYSON (Free transfer, Nottingham Forest) A player noted at Forest for his pace, fragility and lack of end product, Tyson was handed a three-year deal by Clough and, one third of the way through it, is yet to score from 13 starts and 11 sub appearances.
A groin problem picked up in the final pre-season friendly of 2011/12 ruled him out for months and even since regaining fitness, he has never really been able to force himself into the team – not helped by the fact that Clough doesn’t seem keen on pairing him with Theo Robinson.
Clough must have at least considered that Tyson was likely to be injured half the time and unfortunately, at this point in time, it looks like he was a complete waste of money. However, he will get the chance to prove me wrong in the coming season and I hope he does. Apps 13 (11) Goals 0
4) CHRIS PORTER (£400,000, Motherwell) Not actually a bad player, but a serially unfit one. His goal per start ratio at Derby was good – but then, he only managed 24 starts in his three seasons at the club, largely due to a mystery hip injury that ruled him out for months at a time. By the time he left, Clough had already snarled that he was “sick to death of Porter, him and his hip”. Now playing for Sheffield United in League One. Apps 24 (24) Goals 9
5) TOM CARROLL (Loan, Tottenham Hotspur) The wrong player at the wrong time. Signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur at the end of January’s transfer window to replace a player who didn’t leave, Carroll was then shoehorned into the team anyway, leading pretty much directly to a disastrous run of form which derailed our 2011/12 season.
A tiny teenager, Carroll has a wonderful passing ability and is obviously a real ball player in midfield, but was totally swamped by the Championship. His lack of experience and stature told against him in a move that was a step too far for him at this stage in his development – a fact Clough eventually recognised, dropping Carroll for the East Midlands Derby and never restoring him to the starting XI for the remainder of his loan spell. Apps 8 (4) Goals 1