As we continue to prepare for the 2014/15 season, we’re highlighting the players we think can have a massive say for their clubs in the upcoming campaign. Working alongside our Like a New Signing feature, in which we select players we expect to recover from underwhelming 2013/14 seasons to ultimately make a splash this year, we’re also picking out genuine Wild Cards, players who aren’t so much coming off the back of bad seasons as disastrous ones. We’re breaking down the Wild Card players whose careers sit on a perfect knife-edge, for whom the future is entirely unclear, but could still have that spark, that magic to make an impact this season.
Previously: Roberto Soldado: New Season Wild Card
Jack Rodwell is something of an enigma. Respected by his peers and appreciated by neutrals for his very un-English game, Rodwell combines neat, short passing, with a power and vision that made him one of the most exciting young players in the country before he broke into the Everton first team as an 18 year-old in 2008. At 21 Jack saw his future away from Goodison Park and following intense speculation that both Manchester United and Arsenal were both monitoring the England international’s availability, it was Manchester City who snapped him up.
Rodwell suffered with injuries as an Everton player, but with the likes of Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini all plying their trade in the same midfield, his absence was not felt as keenly as it perhaps might have been. Only upon his return to first team action, in which he seemed to score, assist and dominate games with a rare ease, was Rodwell’s value to David Moyse’s Everton ever truly understood.
Finding a rhythm that saw Rodwell and Everton start challenging the top four in the 2011/12 season, Jack was considered one of the team’s shining lights, and with major honours in his sights, he opted for a £15million move to Roberto Mancini’s Premier League winning Manchester City to fulfill those ambitions. With his first season massively affected by injury, Rodwell’s stuttering start to life at the Etihad never really found a momentum.
By the time Manuel Pelligrini had replaced Roberto Mancini as City boss, Rodwell was already a forgotten man. Continuing to suffer through injury, he was used sparingly in cup games, when fit, and despite a few notable performances; he hasn’t managed to crack his Chilean coach’s best 11, or even best 18, as he often finds himself left off of the team sheet fitness not withstanding.
An indifferent pre-season has seen Rodwell used sparingly, with Pellegrini opting for younger stars in games against Milan and Sporting Kansas, and if the former Villarreal manager’s cold shoulder is anything to go by, then we can probably expect Jack to be on the move before 31 August.
With three England caps to his name and a slew of Man of the Match performances in big games for both Everton and Manchester City, there’s little obvious reason for Jack Rodwell’s total isolation at the Etihad, but City’s loss will be another club’s gain, and should he remain clear of injury (a big “if”), then he could and probably should find himself back amongst the Premier League’s elite before long.
A wild card in the truest sense of the phrase, Jack Rodwell’s career could go either way at this point, and while his confidence will have taken a knock over the last 24 months, the Southport born midfielder still has his whole career ahead of him. There isn’t a team in the Premier League that couldn’t do with adding Rodwell’s power and efficiency to their ranks, and should he find the right club, then the 2014/15 season could and should be the most important of his career.
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