A proven goalscorer in The Championship is often the key to success and ultimately promotion. Look no further than the recent teams to be promoted, Burnley’s Andre Gray, Hull City’s Abel Hernandez, and last season Jordan Rhodes was instrumental in Middlesbrough’s campaign. The ambition around Derby County has been clear in recent years. However, achieving it has proven to be tough for The Rams.
The 2013/14 season ended in play-off heartbreak for Derby, a match many will not get over, after seeing their side lose 0-1 in the last minute to ten man Queens Park Rangers, after dominating the game. The season just gone by saw Derby shoot themselves in the foot in their first leg 0-3 defeat to Hull. Despite putting up a good fight in the second leg, winning 0-2, it was another season of disappointment at Wembley for The Rams.
Within touching distance of the top six at Christmas is always a nice place to be in, and what better way to bolster your chances for the rest of the season, than to sign a striker who knows the Championship like the back of his hand.
Billy Davies took a punt on the Huyton born man in 2005, playing for Bury at the time, Davies brought Nugent to Preston North End for £100,000. Nugent soon proved his quality and became an all time fan favourite at Preston. Since then he has become one of the most recognised and effective strikers at Championship level and has gone on to help last season’s Premier League Champions Leicester to promotion in 2014 and Middlesbrough last season. Nugent scored some big, big goals for Karanka’s side last season – a last minute winner against fellow contenders Hull most notably.
11 years on from the £100,000 fee Davies paid for Nugent, he joins Derby for £2.5 million, uniting with the man who gave him his first International cap for England. There are many reasons why I feel this is the sort of signing Derby have been crying out for in seasons gone by, where at the final hurdle, or when the pressure is on, they have disappointed.
Nugent, as McClaren has said, has that valuable experience, he’s been there and done it before, and you can’t put a price on having someone like that in the squad, and in the dressing room.
For someone only 5″11 he poses a real aerial threat. He has the ability to score from distance, and produce the spectacular, as we saw at Anfield with that unbelievable scissor kick goal for Leicester City. Nugent’s someone who will step up and take a penalty, he won’t ever shy away from the chance to score a goal.
He possesses that knack of being in the right place at the right time and put together his predatory instinct, it makes him a defender’s nightmare.
Derby, without doubt, have the quality in midfield to provide Nugent with the ammunition to score goals. Players like Thomas Ince, Craig Bryson and Will Hughes will thrive playing with a forward like Nugent, looking up and seeing him on the move. It is a recipe that I feel will serve Derby County well, should he fit into their system quickly.