|Is Shaun Barker The Man To Lead Derby To Glory!?|
Thu 30th Jun 2011 14:51 by Daniel J Sewart
Although he will miss the early part of next season after recovering from injury, Shaun Barker will lead the Rams for the 11/12 season. With the support of other experienced leaders signing for the club, is Shaun the man to lead Derby to glory?
At his best he has often been compared to the great Roy McFarland and although it is unlikely that Shaun will ever be able to scale the great heights of McFarland, like the great man he has the ability to lead by example and show his team the level of commitment required to succeed.
Many people might believe that Barker would have regretted his decision to leave Blackpool who went on the up and up after his departure but if this was the case; he never let it show in either actions or words.
His form after arriving at DCFC was stunning and there was much excitement as fans and pundits were happy to make the McFarland comparison. Winning the Jack Stamps trophy and nearly single-handedly saving the Rams from relegation were signs the clubs million pound investment was worth every cent.
In his second campaign after an interrupted pre-season, the coaching staff had to nurse him through the matches and although we glimpsed what he was capable of, Barker did not again reach the bar he had set himself previously because of a severe knee complaint. The fact he rarely had a regular central partner all season along with the midfield regularly unfolding in front of him never helped his cause.
Despite not being able to show the form he arrived with this season, by playing through the pain barrier for much of the season he was always the obvious choice to be handed the captain's armband. He still managed 45 matches of a possible 48 and would not even contemplate going under the knife until Derby had achieved safety.
Before Barker came along, for many years it seemed as if Miles Addison would grow into the role as his rapid rise made him an obvious candidate for a leadership position at the club. As it has turned out, Addison has struggled to escape injury and grow into that role but with a new contract and a commitment of support from the club, Barker may still one day hand over the arm band to a rejuvenated and more mature Miles.
As it stands Barker will finally get his chance to step out from the long blonde shadow of Robbie Savage and lead the club into what we all hope will be a new dawn for DCFC.
With the addition of two former club captains to the Rams' squad in Craig Bryson and Jason Shackell, there will be no shortage of back-up for the new skipper until he is fit. But when he fully recovers from his knee operation, if Shaun can recapture the form he showed on arrival at Pride Park Stadium, he will play a massive part in any upward movement the Rams achieve on the league table.
That may include a return to goal-scoring ways that were instrumental in staving off relegation during the 09/10 season but seemingly abandoned as his injury affected performances this last campaign.
Nigel Clough definitely had no doubts about his new captain’s ability to fill the role, when he spoke about a player he has massive faith in:
"Shaun will take over as captain, no matter who (experienced players) we bring in, Shaun has earned the right to be Captain by being vice-captain this season.”
"When you appoint a captain one of the first things you look at is their leadership qualities, and he is absolutely brilliant in that respect. He has been a brilliant ambassador for the Club off the pitch as well."
"Shaun could be one of the great Derby County captains, in his own way."
"He leads by example on the pitch and when you see him straining every sinew to win a header, he can be a real inspiration to the team. The lads need to look up to their captain and respect him, and I think Shaun has that.”
"As a player if you look down the line before kick-off and see someone leading you out who you respect, it can give you a lift.”
"I had it in my playing days with Stuart Pearce and Ian Bowyer, both of whom were great leaders."
Although someone else will wear the arm-band for the opening matches of the campaign, when Barker returns to claim it, Derby fans can expect a hungry and determined player.
Barker’s frustration while carrying an injury through last season was well documented and he will be ready to run through brick walls for Derby on his return. After crossing the pain barrier so many times last season until the Rams were safe, the prospect of a fit-again Barker is a mouth-watering prospect.
With an influx of signings, growing positivity and a belief that DCFC might finally be heading in the right direction, the Shaun Barker era may also coincide with a new era of prosperity for the club on the pitch.
Do you think Shaun Barker can lead the Rams to glory?
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Daniel J Sewart