Those who regularly bemoan the lack of young English talent tend to overlook the midfield curse.
The curse in question goes right back to the sublime Paul Lake and his heartbreaking career stall at 21 and Gazza’s self-sabotaging cup final ligament break. It takes in Steven Gerrard’s growing pains before we get to the stop-start development of Wilshere and Rodwell. It seems that whenever we unearth a midfield diamond to sparkle in our midfield diamond he is blighted with setbacks to varying degrees.
Thankfully in the latter cases both Jacks now appear to be becoming more acquainted with the turf than the treatment room and with Stevie G settling into the wizened veteran role things bode well for our engine room for Brazil 2014.
But before we get ahead of ourselves there is the small matter of a title race to contest and this is a crucial campaign for all concerned for all manner of reasons.
For Rodwell there is the triple challenge of breaking into a Manchester City side stuffed to overflowing with international pedigree, getting the game-time needed to finally resolve his injury issues, whilst fulfilling the potential we all know is brimming within. Whatever your club allegiance we should all hope he achieves these aims because make no bones about it Jack is a Rolls Royce of a player in the making, capable of cruising through the gears and dominating a game with quiet efficiency. A two-goal cameo against Norwich last season gave City fans a glimpse of what he’s about and now they want more. Evertonians meanwhile still regret what might have been from one of their best home-grown talents in decades.
The Cutter met up with Jack this week and found him optimistic and upbeat about his club in exciting transition and the role he’s set to play.
How are you finding life under Pellegrini?
It takes a while to adapt to a new manager which I think a lot of the squad have now. You saw in our first few games we were a bit slow but we’ve picked it up and everyone is getting used to him. He’s obviously a great manager and he’s got top club credentials and everyone is working well with him now.
A long-standing truism in football is that if you finish above United you win the league. Is that still the case this season?
I wouldn’t say so no. Chelsea and Arsenal are doing well and Spurs are a good shout with a good squad so it’s not as easy for United this season, or us. I don’t think this season it’s nailed on as to who will finish in the top two and if we finish above United I don’t think it’s a guaranteed first place.
You’ve had such wretched luck with injuries. How exasperating has it been and have there been particular individuals who have helped you get through?
If I ever get down my family are always there to pick me up but it’s been hard. I’m still young though, that’s the positive thing, and I’ve got time on my side. I’ve had niggles here and there but I’m through that now and focussed on the football.
Your versatility is obviously an asset but what do you regard as your best position?
I like box-to-box midfielder, helping defence and getting forward and trying to score goals. But up until I was 16-17 I was centre-half so you never know, one day, I might step back…if my legs go a bit (laughs)
What we’ve seen so far under Pellegrini is that City are far more open and, dare I say it, adventurous….
Definitely yeah. He plays 4-4-2 and its free-flowing attacking football at the moment.
So there’s an opportunity there for me to bomb on a bit and get on the score-sheet so I can’t wait to get back.
Have any of the new signings surprised you?
They’ve settled in better than I thought. With them being Spanish obviously the manager and the coaches being here helps. Navas is starting playing really well, Negredo started on the bench but he’s playing a bit more now and showing what he can do, and Jovetic scored two the other night and is looking really good.
They’re good signings on paper as well as on the pitch and they’re doing themselves justice.
How highly do you rate yourself?
I’m a big believer in my own ability. I believe if I get the game time and a run in the team I can be as good as I want to be. I hope to be a midfielder who can score at least ten a season, or push on even more and get fifteen. I think I’ve got that in my locker and I just need to stay fit now and get a good run.
It all kicks off in the centre circle and punches are thrown. Which team mate would you most want by your side?
Kompany. Or Micah.
Players are under such stringent dietary regimes these days. Are you ever able to think ‘to hell with it’ and enjoy a big greasy fry-up?
Some days, usually after a good game. I’ll treat myself and have a Dominoes pizza or bucket of KFC. You’ve got to live a little and as long as it doesn’t effect you. Everything in moderation.
Which moment in your career so far has given you the most pleasure?
My England debut to be honest. I was going to say signing for City which is a close second. But England, as a kid growing up, that’s the main aim really.
FIFA is so realistic. Is there anything you can do on the pitch that your virtual persona cannot?
No. It’s that realistic it’s unbelievable. I’ve not seen my stats for this season but I’m usually alright on it and if you play me more he improves more in the game which is a bit like in real life! It’s pretty much like-for-like now in real life and on FIFA.
Jack Rodwell appears in EA SPORTS FIFA 14, available to buy NOW on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC from Game.co.uk. Get involved in the most popular mode in FIFA and start your Ultimate Team today at http://www.easports.com/uk/fifa/play.