Eddie Howe has been keen to highlight Jason Shackell’s leadership abilities, writes Jamie Smith.
Just a few months after signing for Derby County last summer, the former Barnsley defender was wearing the armband for Nigel Clough’s side. Don’t be surprised if he gets it at Turf Moor.
Regular skipper Shaun Barker was out with a long-term injury and Shackell assumed his presence in the backline, helping County to one of the Championship’s stingiest defensive records.
It was pretty clear we needed more options at the back. David Edgar had a reasonable campaign, spoiled by a few untimely lapses, while Ben Mee had his moments but looked too inexperienced. Duff was our best centre-half for much of the season – which says a lot about our issues at the back.
Shackell should help to alleviate those problems. A strong and dominant player, he should provide the ideal foil for the more cultured David Edgar.
Howe tried to bring Shackell to Turf Moor last summer, but the deal fell through and he went to Derby instead. But a year later, Howe has finally got his man. Speaking after the signing, the manager said: “He is someone we have admired for a long time. He’s an excellent player, a very good footballer who will definitely fit into our style of play.
“Also, off the pitch he is a leader and a really good character and someone we are really pleased to add to what we’ve got.
“He has everything you want in a modern centre-half and I think he will add a lot to us, hopefully for a period of time.
“Adding another leader into the pack was crucial for us and I think we’ve done that now.”
Pleasingly, Shackell himself addressed concerns from some fans about the four-year contract he’s penned and the fact he’s switched teams in successive summers. He told the official club website: “I knew Derby were quite keen to get some money in, so I thought it could be a possibility.
“I knew there were a few clubs interested and once I got the green light to talk to Burnley and I met the gaffer it wasn’t really a decision then. It was done in my head and I am really happy to have signed.
“I have moved a lot in the last few years so I am looking to get settled and hang my hat somewhere for a while.
“Hopefully this is the right place for me and I can be here for a good few years to come and do well.
“I wanted to show commitment to the Club and they have shown commitment to me with giving me the four-year deal and hopefully that can be beneficial for both me and the Club and we are going to have a successful time.”
With the players in pre-season training from today, Howe has a decision to make over the captaincy. Chris McCann didn’t have the season we all hoped he would, although it must be remembered he was coming back from a long time out of the game. Many think he is not vocal enough on the pitch to have the armband.
Shackell could be the ideal man to take over. McCann would be free to concentrate on his own game and getting back to the dominant box-to-box midfielder that was one of the best in the division at his best. Shackell will be the organiser we need in the defence, providing guidance to younger players like Edgar and Mee, as well as the full-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Lafferty.
Hopefully, his more assured presence in our defence will also lead to Lee Grant having more confidence in the men in front of him and being more comfortable as a result. His number of errors should fall.
This could be the key signing for us this summer. I’d like to see us bring in another midfielder to dictate the tempo, but getting his man after 12 months shows the persistence of Howe, a trait that is sure to be useful over the course of another testing Championship season.
Would you like to see Shackell become our new captain? Comment below.