Curious case of Jack Rodwell as ex-Man City and Everton star makes return to football

Wednesday, 10 November, 2021 39comments  |  Jump to last

Jack Rodwell's chequered career path since coming through the ranks of Everton's Academy to make his debut as a 16-year-old is outlined in this Mirror article today.

He hasn't played a competitive game for 16 months but the 30-year-old has made his next move by agreeing a contract with Australian side Western Sydney Wanderers. He has signed a 2-year deal with the A-League side.

» Read the full article at The Mirrior

Reader Comments (39)

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1 Posted 10/11/2021 at 16:34:31
As it's a quiet week, and as the topic of homegrown players coming through is never far below the surface, I thought I'd highlight this Jack Rodwell article in The Mirror.

At the time he was sold, as I recall, the move came as something of a surprise. It was the all-too-familiar story: he was one of our best players to have come through the Academy and made a substantial impression in the first-team, earning those England caps.

But the injury nightmares were never far below the surface either, and from afar, that's what seems to have been the biggest blight on a very promising but ultimately hugely disappointing career in professional football.

Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 10/11/2021 at 16:42:24

I remember when Rodwell was 16, watching a game on TV when he was on the bench. The whole game, the "knowledgeable" Stewart Robson was slagging off Moyes for not bringing on "the young striker Rodwell."

That apart, his future probably looked brightest when he and a bunch of youngsters beat Spain under Capello. Looked weirdest when that private video of him leaked. And then Sir David Moyes of East London hung him out to dry publicly by blaming his wages for Sunderland's demise. Whatever else happened, he did score a nice goal for us versus Man Utd – along with those other "Legends" Bilyaletdinov and Gosling.

Andy Riley
3 Posted 10/11/2021 at 17:09:05
The best summing up I ever heard about Jack was ‘Too much Birkdale - not enough Kirkdale'.'

Sad really that the only real highlight, certainly in his Everton career, was the goal against Man Utd. Although at that time I recall some saying he was the next Steven Gerrard!

Tony Everan
4 Posted 10/11/2021 at 17:16:28
“The Curious Case of Jack Rodwell “, sounds like a Hercule Poirot novel.

We did well to get a decent fee for him if I remember right. I’m not sure he would have been top class even without being blighted by injury. But you have to hand it to the guy, he must love his footy and still playing at a good level in Australia. He’s certainly no quitter.

Darren Hind
5 Posted 10/11/2021 at 17:20:14
In a nutshell, Andy.

He did some fantastic things for us, especially against both Mancs, but he always seemed rather "gentle" to me....

The only time I remember him showing the slightest hint of aggression was when he went for a ball against the Red Shite and Martin Twatkinson showed the most ill-judged red card of all time – Cheating Bastard.

I thought he would carry all before him when he got his big move, but he seemed to disappear even further into his shell.

Had all the tools, just not the "edge". To this day, I still don't get it.

Geoff Lambert
6 Posted 10/11/2021 at 17:21:23
I remember watching him make his debut, It was one of the coldest nights I have ever been to a football match. AZ Alkmar in 2007. The ice was so bad we could not see out of the train windows on our journey from Amsterdam.
Michael Kenrick
7 Posted 10/11/2021 at 17:25:16
I had to look that Man Utd game up, Kieran. Seems I watched it (on telly, no doubt... so it doesn't really count):

"Rodwell came on for Pienaar with 5 mins left as Everton defended another corner, and time ticked away. 90th minute and Arteta played the ball to Jack Rodwell, who went for it, skipping past Evra and shooting brilliantly across Van der Sar, into the far side of the net, a real quality finish. Rodwell ripped off his shirt (yellow card, of course) and milked the Gwladys Street adulation, providing the perfect icing on the cake" to a tremendous 3-1 win (20 February 2010).

I also forgot that was one of Landon Donovan's great games for The Blues.

Kieran Kinsella
8 Posted 10/11/2021 at 17:51:57

I forgot about Donovan altogether and his brief winter-break loan spells.

John Raftery
9 Posted 10/11/2021 at 18:31:03
Rodwell also scored two cracking goals against Sigma Olomouc with shots from outside the penalty area at the Street End.

He had a lot of problems with hamstring injuries before we sold him to Man City. We received a very good fee for a player who never fulfilled his early promise.

Peter Gorman
10 Posted 10/11/2021 at 18:32:28
He scored two great goals in the Europa League against Sigma.

I thought the second was an absolute belter but within a few short years I thought the same of Rodwell himself.

Robert Tressell
11 Posted 10/11/2021 at 18:41:15
Rodwell had a shot on him and was athletic, and got pushed into a Lampard / Gerrard style role that was very fashionable at the time.

However, apart from physical attributes, he never looked suited to the role. His use of the ball was nothing special.

He could, however, have excelled in defence (where he started) but got caught up in the glamour of a more attacking role.

Really excellent prospect who went from injuries to bench to pointlessness and then obscurity.

Lee Courtliff
12 Posted 10/11/2021 at 20:20:39
I always said he was the most overrated player I'd ever seen at Goodison in, at the time, 20 years of going on. The goal against Man Utd gave everyone a false impression of him.

Constant sideways passes and no impact on the game... yet people always seemed to rave over him!! I was glad we sold him for the pretty decent fee we got.

I've have no issue with him and hope he does well in Australia. I just never rated him.

Dave Williams
13 Posted 10/11/2021 at 21:15:35
Kieran #2 what video?
Kieran Kinsella
14 Posted 10/11/2021 at 21:33:23

Ever Benega produced a similar work intended for a small audience

Danny Broderick
15 Posted 11/11/2021 at 03:37:43
Seemed a bit too nice to me…
Jim Bennings
16 Posted 11/11/2021 at 06:40:16
If anyone has read the Leon Osman autobiography, I did myself a few years back.

Osman said Rodwell had a bit of a "as long as I had a good game it doesn't matter what the score was" attitude.

Osman said pretty much what we knew at the time, that Jack had loads of attributes, smooth passer of the ball, he could strike a mean shot too, but he never quite had the hunger or desire to succeed for a long career in the top level.

I'd say that sums him up, yes there were bad injuries, but others have been in a similar boat and still forged a more fruitful career.

Rodwell like many of our young talents just never had that hunger and drive to keep going and for me that is a concern.

Look through the years and you'll see a familiar pattern, Michael Branch, Danny Cadamarteri, Franny Jeffers, Keiran Dowell (although Dowell never really felt like an Everton player).

Cadamarteri certainly had talent, Jeffers too, but their careers tailed off at an alarming rate.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 11/11/2021 at 08:16:15
I think a lot of clubs could rattle off a list of nearly men who came through the youth ranks. I can think of Gomes, Chadwick, Greening and Morrison at Man Utd for example.

I do think they would benefit from greater grounding in education from a young age and quite possibly support with neuro diversity issues.

We might find that players coming through are better able to handle it when they do come through.

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 11/11/2021 at 08:45:12
I think that quote from Osman that Jim posted is telling.

I'm going to step away from Rodwell a bit, as I tend to agree with a lot of what has already been said above. It goes back to the questioning and scrutiny of Everton's Academy or the academy system in general in my opinion.

A few thoughts.

Do we throw these kids in too early? Into a man's game when they are still learning and physically growing? Introduce them by all means, but there seems to be a tendency to expect too much too soon on a consistent basis nowadays. Even Rooney, who no-one was stopping from banging down the first-team changing room door. But his legs had gone by the time he came back to Everton at the age of 31 or 32. Which in this modern era is still relatively young.

Of course there are multiple factors that play a part. The individual, mentality, lifestyle choices, diet & nutrition and luck (or bad luck) with injuries. But I just wonder about this clamour to not only "play the kids", but then put the burden of continuous expectation on them. Very few young players will cope with that, especially the goldfish bowl of expectation that is the Premier League. Back to my point about gradual introduction rather than throwing them into the Bear Pit. We need to take more care of most of these young players.

Coaching and positioning. Back to Rodwell, I saw a centre-back or sweeper personally. Are the coaches trying to make a player fit a position they want or coaching the player to excel in his best position? Was Rodwell (and others) coached and used correctly? We saw Leon Osman, a technically gifted central midfielder constantly used as a wide player for years. I assume because he was considered lightweight and small.

Repeat warning: quit your punditry job, Leon, and get yourself to Finch Farm. And convince Pienaar to leave his role in the Ajax Academy to join you!!

The modern elite academy bubble is a problem for me too. Rodwell and arguably Barkley are good examples of how these lads are taken at a very young age and grow up living in a surreal environment that is almost the football equivalent of The Truman Show. I believe Chelsea have taken positive steps to address this, to be fair, and are seeing the benefits.

You could argue they get it too easy. In that respect, they've "made" it at 12 years old, so the hard work mentality escapes them as they live in their own world. But then to counter that, they sacrifice a normal youth to chase the dream.

Anyway, a bit of a brain dump of thoughts. I'll finish by saying I'm pleased to see Jack still earning a living playing football, even if it's not the level we hoped and thought he would reach. Good luck, son.

Niall McIlhone
19 Posted 11/11/2021 at 09:50:51
He always looked to me to be one of those people who could have succeeded at different sports. He was athletic, and could cover ground very quickly.

I definitely think his career as a footballer could have prospered had he not been stricken with repeated injuries, and had he not been used in several different positions on the field.

Still, as has been said, Everton profited substantially from his sale to Man City; in my book, he is not deserving of being remembered as a player who was a failure, not like some of the signings of recent years who have been very, very poor.

John Pickles
20 Posted 11/11/2021 at 09:54:42
Leon Osman has an autobiography?
Dennis Stevens
21 Posted 11/11/2021 at 10:41:51
Aye, John. It's called "Seat named a car after me"
Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 11/11/2021 at 10:44:18
When Rodwell was making it at Everton and being picked regularly but still young, Alan Stubbs asked to stay back after training and work on his game.

He declined, saying he was doing alright as it was. Injuries did have an effect on his game but so did the fact that he thought he didn't need to do anymore than what he was doing.

He had the making of a very good player; he could have become that very good player with a lot more dedication, like a few other players with different clubs all over the country.

John Pickles
23 Posted 11/11/2021 at 12:24:13
Dennis #21 The Seat Osman?
Sean Roe
24 Posted 11/11/2021 at 12:35:18
Okay, so we sold Man City a dud. No need for Karma to bite us twice in the form of Delph and Iwobi!
Lee Jamieson
25 Posted 11/11/2021 at 14:26:39
Rodwell should be highlighted by the club as an example of how, if you move too young, your career can falter. Jeffers and Barkley are the same; I think there is something in what Danny O'Neil says.

I remember Jack Wilshere and Jack Rodwell being touted as the future midfield for England, both have been blighted by injury and are effectively out of football

Dave Williams
26 Posted 11/11/2021 at 17:36:41
Kieron- Ever Banega? Now there’s a player who would have improved us a lot if he had signed!!
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
27 Posted 11/11/2021 at 22:37:37
Yes, I thought he was being groomed for a centre-half – a bit like what John Stones became. But he was not strong enough or mean enough at the time to play there so was put in midfield.

Problem with kids today – see Thierry Small: "I'm 16. I'm going to be a star. I need to be in the team now. Okay, I'm off." Clubs have a horrible job in managing expectations and careers.

And Danny, yes. I would love to see today's kids being coached by Pienaar and Osman. Their feet were good but their brains were even better. And the latter is the most important.

Jay Wood

28 Posted 11/11/2021 at 22:54:25
A few reference Jack's natural position as centre-back, as the club touted him as back in the day.

However, I can recall only two games when he was played there for the first team. Pre-season friendlies v Coventry and Blackpool.

He was woeful. Truly appalling.

At the other end of the spectrum, when he played his now normal midfield role for England, he was outstanding. Even better than he looked when playing for Everton.

It's funny how things turn out sometimes.

Mark Taylor
29 Posted 12/11/2021 at 00:41:42
I think he is a classic example of just how hard it is for young players to break into the Premier League. Talent isn't enough...
Mark Murphy
30 Posted 14/11/2021 at 20:15:24
Ahh yes - Thierry Small.

How many games has he played for Southampton since he left for regular football???

Michael Kenrick
31 Posted 14/11/2021 at 22:37:47
Good question, Mark.

It's a big fat zero. Soccerbase show no senior games for him so far this season. And according to TransferMarkt he's not been on the bench for them either.

He did get a game for Southampton U21 side in the EFL Trophy. but that's on a par with what he would have gotten at Everton under Rafa, had he stayed.

Oh, and he's had 5 starts and scored two goals in PL2 Division 2 – that's the tier below where Everton U23s play, so he has effectively taken a backward/downward step.

Maybe he's not quite as good as he thought he was?

Seb Niemand
32 Posted 21/11/2021 at 10:35:59
Rodwell's got himself a decent club but he's in for a shock when he finds out that the A-League is a lot more physical than anywhere he's played. He'll get kicked up into the air game after game.
James Newcombe
33 Posted 21/11/2021 at 12:36:36
I thought he looked an excellent prospect when he came into the team. Nothing too flashy, but an anchor man who was very composed on the ball.

I can't decide who will look back on their career with more disappointment – Rodwell or Barkley. Still, they should both be set for life in any case!

Tom Bowers
34 Posted 23/11/2021 at 18:15:15
Yes, ''Rodders'' had the world at his feet and, after going to Man City and getting the nod for England, it all fell apart – thanks mainly to injuries.

Another fine Everton youngster that didn't reach the heights he may have hoped... and it is sad to say Everton have had a few in recent memory. Jeffers and Vaughan are two other names that come to mind.

Hopefully he can finish his career on a high note in Oz but, when you are a continual ''sick note'', you can never know what the next day will bring.

David Ellis
35 Posted 25/11/2021 at 02:42:09
Tom @34,

"Rodders" was the nickname for the simularly talented and injury-blighted Tony Grant (because he looked a lot like Rodders from Only Fools and Horses).

I thought we would be a rival to David Beckham in the mid to late 1990s but injury robbed him of a meaningful career. Fantastic passer of the ball, but just too fragile.

Kieran Kinsella
36 Posted 25/11/2021 at 04:11:47
David Ellis,

I remember Tony Grant got his big break as a striker during Jimmy Gabriel's caretaker spell after Howard Kendall Mk II. I remember he was highly rated at the time. I also read Joe Royle thought highly of him.

TBH I never saw what they saw in him but, if injuries were a factor, that makes sense and I bow to Joe Royle's better judgment. Didn't he join City?

Bill Rodgers
37 Posted 26/11/2021 at 16:34:15
There is something very wrong about the players who come through the EFC academy. They may have ability – but they have zero hunger. They seem to have been brought up to believe that ability is enough – and when it isn't, they prefer the treatment table.
Danny O’Neill
38 Posted 26/11/2021 at 16:43:40
You hit a raw nerve, Bill.

I wouldn't say it's just Everton's Academy, but we are seemingly particularly bad for it.

Kids who think they've made it by 10 or 12 years old because they're in the bubble of the academy. Probably behaving (I don't know, just assume) like they've made it so switch off from the hard work it takes to succeed as a footballer or in any walk of life???

Comfort zone springs to mind, hence why I and others call for kids not to be taken into this type of enclosed unreal environment until they are at least 14 years old.

Michael Kenrick
39 Posted 26/11/2021 at 17:45:41
I'd like to think that we do on the whole a decent job of bringing young talented players into the Academy. Maybe not the absolute cream of the crop, as we have discussed elsewhere, the glamour clubs may pick these players up before us.

But you have to believe that, when they make it through the gates of Finch Farm, they have the ability, the hunger, the desire, the tenacity to succeed as footballers? If not, then we're on a hiding to nothing.

I think this is where the competitive leagues and cups come in, at least for the U18s and U23s – let's just focus on them. But for both me and Bill to be right, maybe something happens between coming in as brilliant starlets, and progressively having the True Grit X-Factor, whatever, beaten out of you by the system, by the time you get near the end?

Even so, I see no evidence of Academy players who "prefer the treatment table". Of course I don't know for sure but it seems to me that the injuries are genuine, and that most recover at some point. Are some injury-prone? Of course. But what you are saying, Bill, is simply a shameless and completely unjust accusation.

If they "have been brought up to believe that ability is enough", and yet they are still competitive with other Academy sides, then what does that say about all the other Academies? That they are just as bad.

No, sorry, I don't accept this mud-slinging. The players themselves are good up to a certain level. But to go beyond that to become Premier League superstars, you have to be really really special... and we've not had anyone like that since Rooney.

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