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Different Types of Strikers: A Plea for Patience with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Written by DurhamTownFan on Thursday, 27th Dec 2012 10:48

At last week’s draw with Bristol City, my mates and I went away quite surprised and disappointed at the reaction of some of the fans around us to the performance of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

It was clear to us that this guy divides opinions, and I think many of the comments and posts on this website suggest the same. After a discussion in the ground and later the pub (during which we were probably all on his side, but trying to understand the wider view) I decided to put this together, and maybe canvass some wider opinions.

The one thing that we all agreed on right away was that JET, to use his famous nickname, gives us something else. Among our current squad, only maybe Lee Martin has the capacity to trick and beat a man and open up some space for the rest of the team. JET is tricky, and JET can dribble. He can also shoot from distance. What is there to dislike?

Well, fortunately his perceived faults are also quite easy to spot. He could probably do a bit more off the ball, when Ipswich are out of possession. For a big lad, he’s not as good as Murphy in the air (probably because he was trained at Arsenal).

However, for me, by far and away the biggest obstacle for JET at the moment, is that our fans seem to be demanding too much of him and are perhaps too impatient of him, when he does not do the business. Even his nickname adds to this. Mick had it right I think, to suggest that Emmanuel-Thomas will only become ‘JET’ once he’s bagged a few goals.

This kid obviously has a great deal of confidence, often mistaken for arrogance, by other types of players or supporters who are not blessed with his same levels of skill and adventure on the pitch (for the record, I too am a bumbling centre-half in Sunday league).

As I didn’t go to Charlton (and because he had such a minor part) the game against Bristol City shows about where we’re at with JET right now. Given roughly 20 minutes, he’s found about four or five opportunities to get on the ball and have a go. He concentrates on the basics, trying to win the long balls and keeping possession. A couple of dribbles in and around the box seem to go down alright, but without breaking the deadlock.

At one point he does mazy run across the 18-yard line, can’t break through, so lays it off wide to Cresswell: upon which, some teenage lads behind me yell something like ‘Oh b***** hell, JET-do something!’ (at this point I think ‘have you ever actually played football, lads?’)

Anyway, here is my argument. Under Mick, we play sensible, no-fuss football. The emphasis is on clearing our lines, and doing the simple stuff. Under these circumstances, we have three types of striker in four players. Murphy is our ball-winner, our target man, whose job it is to keep possession long enough bring others into play. Michael Chopra and DJ Campbell are our two box predators. While DJ maybe has more pace, both are essentially charged with making the right runs off Murphy, and with hitting the target at all costs.

Then we have JET. He is our classic ‘number 10’, playing ‘in the hole’, as what the Italians call a fantasista (think Roberto Baggio, Totti, or Alessandro Del Piero. Closer to home, Dennis Bergkamp is the classic example). This type of player is needed the better the football you play, to make runs, cause a nuisance between the opposition defence and midfield, and create something from deep.

Under Mick, we pass the ball to the frontmen quite quickly. Because of this, there are fewer chances to pick up the ball between attack and midfield, so this kind of player isn’t always needed. JET is therefore often asked to be more like Murphy, and to use his big frame to hold up the ball: something he is not bad at, but which certainly hasn’t come to him naturally.

Now, I didn’t write this whole blog because I am a mad fan of JET and believe that he is the answer to our prayers. Actually, I don’t think anybody at all can argue with anything that McCarthy has done in his short stint in charge so far, even if it means JET not playing or being asked to alter his game. We have gone from playing with absolute rock bottom confidence and even outright fear, to now actually expecting to win games, and coming away upset if we don’t (again, Bristol City was a good example).

Actually, what I wanted to do was use the situation with JET to ask for a bit more patience from our fans. I think it is healthy to expect a bit more from our team than Championship survival, but I also do think that our players need our support. They too have suffered under Roy Keane and Paul Jewell, and I think it is about time that we showed them how happy we are with things in the last couple of months (obviously ignoring those huge defeats early on!).

JET is a key part of this; so too, Chopra, and Andy Drury and Stephen Henderson: all of those other lads who sometimes don’t always cut it and dominate every week. But with a barrage of abuse and heckling of our own guys the moment things get tough, we are not helping. Have some patience, guys, please. We could be doing far worse (and for about three years we were).


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cbower added 11:25 - Dec 27
A good analysis of the situation with regards to JET. You are quite right, he offers something different and certainly has goals in him. He is a confidence player and as the team (and also the fans) become less fearful of losing, the times when JET's dribbles, flicks and (sometimes) high and wide shots do not come off will similarly become less frustrating and more tolerable for all. MM wil, however,l not tolerate any perceived lack of commitment and for this reason JET must learn to use his physical presence much more effectively. It is no coincedence that Murphy has looked more of a threat recently - putting himself about a great deal more. This came about after Barnett arrived and Murphy realised he needed to give more for the team. Ditto JET. He clearly has the skill, no question. What Mick will demand is total commitment to the cause each and every game.

jas1972 added 11:29 - Dec 27
Well summed up. I would add that JET's biggest fault from the fan's viewpoint is that he often appears to be uninterested when he doesn't have the ball or if he loses it. It's frustrating.

UhlenbeekDownTheWing added 11:30 - Dec 27
Agree to a large extent - indeed he is the only person in the squad who can beat a man for skill (Edwards, Carson (and, in the last minutes against Bristol at least, Drury) can run past people - but thats different in my mind) and this is something to be treasured, however some of the "basics" are missing with JET I feel. For example, whilst he is a tall lad, on average he misses the ball when heading by about a foot...

Now we are a bottom half of Championship team, none of our players can do everything and I accept that, but what you hope is that they generally make the right decisions - even if they fail to successfully execute them. IMO JET is very hit and miss here (when to put in effort to find space/close down, when to attack the ball/back off, when to pass/dribble/shoot etc.), this is what frustrates me about him. He is the most talented player we have, but until he starts making better decisions he isn't going to get in the team.

Compare his talent level with Jon Walters (front of the mind after his success last night) - I think you could make the argument that it is only decision making where Jon is better than JET...

Edmunds5 added 11:35 - Dec 27
Good blog, enjoyed the read. I think you're spot on when you talk about how he struggles to recieve the ball in a system where we're not the most fluid and look for strikers quickly, perhaps thats why he has a fairly good season last season, because we were arguarbly more expressive and less disciplined and so J could roam a little more and not track back so his attacking influence was more noticeable. If he was at Liverpool or Swansea right now you would probably notice him more than you do when he plays for us, likewise if he was at Crystal Palace he could be similar to Zaha and Bolasie.

It is hard for him though, he has raw ability which he has shown in countless reserve games because he can, all of his attributes make him unplayable in that standard. The Championship is different, defences are hard, physical and experienced and know how to mark a player like JET out the game. As you rightly say, patience is key but I do feel JET is one of those players who you have to give freedom too and accept the fact that he is a bit of a luxury but for that he has to be in the right system and people have to understand he may make mistakes and be prepared to win the second balls but Mick wants dedication and work rate and so I can't see him being deployed in a role where he can show this. You can't change him too much in the way you can't tell Murphy to run the channels and rely on his pace. whether Mick and Terry can mould him into an Ebanks-Blake type centre forward I'm not sure but I could maybe see potential in that. Could still be a real asset for us I just feel he has to be seen as valuable and used particularly so he can express himself in the way that he likes.

BelsteadCav added 11:38 - Dec 27
Just another excuse made for Jet , sell if ASAP

3_5_2 added 12:08 - Dec 27
Like most fans, I get very frustrated with him. It is the lack of consistency and his laziness which gets to me.

Yes he can do some "magic" but all too infrequently for me.

A luxury we cannot afford in our present situation

DurhamTownFan added 13:59 - Dec 27
Well, 352, that's exactly what the blog was about. How can he possibly provide consistency if he hardly ever plays, and if when he does we're not playing to his strengths? Even more so if half the crowd are barracking him?!

I do agree,.we need fighters lately. But a time will come when we need something extra, and I want him to stick around for it!

JustSpivvyChops added 14:56 - Dec 27
JET has done nothing for the club since his arrival and provided NOTHING, when he came on as sub v, if he makes zero impact when he starts and zero impact from the bench, what's the point of keeping him???

Can't comment on anything past this:

"The one thing that we all agreed on right away was that JET, to use his famous nickname, gives us something else. Among our current squad, only maybe Lee Martin has the capacity to trick and beat a man and open up some space for the rest of the team"

as it's clear that you and your mates know precisely fook all about football.

Blue041273 added 15:48 - Dec 27
This whole argument is totally bizarre. To compare JET with Dennis Bergkamp is laughable to start with. Everyone agrees he has some talent, glimpses of which we see from time to time. But equally everybody agrees he is one of the most frustrating players ever to wear the shirt. He simply doesn't contribute enough, doesn't get involved enough, and for a big guy doesn't show enough aggression in his game. He has been here for a season and a half now and has not convinced anybody that he can be a key part of the team. In truth he has about 4 months to show everybody that he is, in fact, a professional footballer capable of fulfilling a role at this level. If he sustains the level of performance generally produced so far, he won't get another contract with us or any other club at the top end of the game.

Vaughan8 added 16:36 - Dec 27
The blog is fine and people can think what they like but I have to agree with some if the comments suggesting he has done nothing, which bar a few goals last season is true!

"He hasn't had a chance to be consistent" some people cry! Well I think he played plenty I games last season to be "consistent" which in some ways he has, consistently poor with the odd good game thrown in!

Comparing him to those players and saying he is the "classic number 10" is laughable!

His type if striker is like bendtner! They think they are really good, but never really produce it, except the odd game exception!

I do hope he does come good, and maybe under mick he will make him work!

are_these_the_days added 17:11 - Dec 27
A very good blog . It highlights the problem faced by many skilful players over the years from fans criticism. The average Ipswich supporter seems to rate highly those players with a hefty boot or a crunching tackle or run around a lot..
Players in the past such as David Johnson (the 1st) , Clive Woods , Finidi and even Darren Currie have failed to find favour with the fans for their failure to 'get rid of it' , & their ability on the ball being either overlooked or not appreciated.

are_these_the_days added 17:13 - Dec 27
Also the blogger was not comparing JET's ability with Bergcamp or anyone else , he was merely drawing attention to the fact that his best ability is in that position

Simonds92 added 17:14 - Dec 27
Always seems like he's in a world of his own on the pitch, has to be carried by the team and a luxury we can't afford at this moment in time. He's got brilliant potential but, so far, that's all it is, looked incredibly good as an Arsenal youngster but has never developed hence why he is sitting on the bench of a bottom half championship team. Was very excited when we signed him and small glimpses were enough to excite last season but have now got fed up of seeing the lack of effort and terrible decision making

Fatcatevans added 17:20 - Dec 27
He is lazy. Uhlenbeekdown the wing are u seriously saying Walters is better than jet lag only in decision making?. I'd add heading ability work rate goals per game ratio at a higher level , team player ,that's with about 2 minutes thought.

brendanh added 18:36 - Dec 27
Go easy, people forget he's only just turned 22. He was among the best youth players in the country. I saw him give a commanding performance in centre mid when Arsenal beat Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup final. He has all the physical attributes to be a top player, including pace. I agree he needs to be involved, he also needs to learn that his contribution will be far greater on average if he plays a killer pass rather than keep trying 30+ yard shots which will go in perhaps one in 10 attempts. I don't mind paying money to see the likes of JET. When he figures his game out, he'll be a force to be reckoned with. I just hope it'll be at Ipswich.

I wish certain supporters would relearn that Ipswich is a club where patience and nurturing is required. Too many that joined since _that_ Premiership season and the new stands were built think we are some big club that have a divine right to be in the top flight. Our reputation was built on player development. Through giving our youth a chance, and by buying and nurturing the under-appreciated. It certainly wasn't by booing kids like Liam Trotter and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas who clearly have talent and are learning the game.

bluey123 added 19:11 - Dec 27
How anyone can see anything good about the most lazy and awful player to pull on a town shirt rubbish blog trying to tell us how great is just ask Arsenal fans or Cardiff they saw the light just get rid asap

DurhamTownFan added 19:14 - Dec 27
Alright JustSpivvyChops : fair point, but no need to get personal! I could easily say the same back...

Glad some have seen the point of the blog. No, I do not think that JET has yet shown that he should have a major part to play just yet. However, it looks very unlikely that we're going to finish anywhere near the top six this year, so I do think that we can give these sorts of players a go. Not just JET, but others like Carson, and Ainsley, and Hewitt.

Edmunds5 added 19:45 - Dec 27
brendanh is right, just turned 22 and as he hasn't yet produced quite what we were expecting people are going to right him off?, I think it is also worth pointing out he played on the right side last season with Edwards at right back so it was always going to look a vunerable right side defensively whenever Jay lost the ball, perhaps with Orr at right back it would have been more balanced. You have to play to his strengths, a bit like Qpr did with Taarabt against Fulham, behind the striker where losing the ball is a bit more acceptable because they had M'bia and Diakite behind him, he illustrated all it technique and skill and scored 2 goals.

IamSpartacus added 20:32 - Dec 27
Got to be blunt but, contrary to some posters on here, I really like the potential that JET has. The idea that some have written him off already is testament to their ineptitude and impatience as supporters.

JET can be frustrating, he can appear lacking in passion, but he has undoubted talent. Until McCarthy replaced the incredibly ill fitting Jewell the same could be said of pretty much the most of the team (including Cresswell, Smith and Chambers, who have improved no end with a tactically astute manager).

I hope Jet will come good, he might not but to write him off at 22 just smacks of stunning, utterly utterly stunning, shortsightedness. To offer such little time and patience to a player that has the potential to be good is the kind of supporter that should be supporting Blackburn, not us.

Garv added 22:46 - Dec 27
I just wish Mick would let JET do what he is best at, and that is running at full backs from wide, putting low balls across the six yard box and cutting inside and unleashing powerful shots with that hammer of a left foot. He can't really do any of that in his current role. For me, he is not a striker.

I had a closer look at him against Bristol City (usually sit upstairs but went down for second half) and his work rate is still very questionable, as you say breifly.

Good blog though generally. He was fantastic during the second half of last season, he's got it in him, and I'm very glad we've got him. Jewell's 4-2-3-1 suited him perfectly when on the right, Mick's 4-4-2 doesn't IMO, especially being made to play as a target man.

UhlenbeekDownTheWing added 08:45 - Dec 28
Fatcatevans - I think you can make an argument that JET is as talented as Jon Walters, I am not convinced you would win that argument, but it wouldn't be a blow-out in my mind.

Yes, Walters is better in the air, but if I had the choice of backing someone to beat three men in a tight area I would pick JET everytime.

Work rate is a decision to run around (I haven't seen evidence that JET is appreciably slower or less fit than Walters), goals is an output of many factors so isn't a good metric to talent level IMO.

MathieandMarshall added 10:32 - Dec 28
A decent blog. Something we have been discussing ourselves in the lower SBR stand every week. The guy is a luxury player. That we agree on. When he does play we need to get the ball to his feet as often as possible to keep him in the game. Otherwise he drifts in and out. He has the ability to beat a man and some of his passing (both switching play and also cute little through balls) is excellent. He also has a fierce shot on him. He isn't going to run around like a Headless chicken like a lee Martin but over the course of the season has the ability to produce more goals given the opportunity.

bluey123 added 10:35 - Dec 28
What a lot of crap people post on here Thomas has no potential poor attitude and no football brain and how you can compare him with Walters is beyond belief no final ball just the odd shot that ends up in the stands.
He scoring rate is pathetic with fans thinking he is good just shows how far our expectations are now get rid NOW

IamSpartacus added 11:47 - Dec 28
@ bluey123.... no football brain? Like your minimal grammar brain?

The fact you are unable to see any 'potential'- which may, or may not, be realised- leads me to disregard your view without further delay.

amydownes added 13:08 - Dec 28
Think the blog is spot on - certainly our most 'talented' player and, along with Hyam, our biggest hope for the future?

What's telling to me is that the disgruntled fans appear to be more voal away from home than away. I've seen a few very good games form JET, particularly when he came on against Bolton (IMO he turned the game for us, worked hard, and created chances). Home fans haven't seen as much of this.. perhaps because he gets so much grief at Portman Road. (As long as i live I'll never ever forgive the sarcastic applause when he was substituted in the first game of the season - disgrace).

He is the new scapegoat, the new Leadbitter. And if he were to go elsewhere can I suggest we'd be likely to see him do as well as other unpopular figures from the past - just as Grant is doing well at Boro.
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