Tuesday Team Talk: Nightmare first season, but Jack Rodwell has all the tools to be a Manchester City star

Comment by John McDougall

It would be fair to say that Jack Rodwell has not had the easiest start to life at Manchester City following his transfer from Everton last summer.

After leaving Goodison Park for £12million for the Etihad Stadium, the Southport-born midfielder has seen persistent injury troubles further disrupt his development.

Since the start of the 2011/12 season, the 22-year-old has suffered nine separate hamstring injuries, the most recent in City’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa in March.

Rodwell himself has done everything within his power to get back to full fitness, changing his car, moving closer to Manchester and even changing his pillows.

His late cameo in the goalless draw with Swansea City last weekend was only his 12th appearance for the Blues.

It comes after a dwindling number of appearances for his former club, playing 36 times in the 2009/10 season and 28 and 17 times in the following two campaigns.  

This season he has started only four times for the former champions and had both Premier League and Champions League debuts to forget for City.

The England international gave away possession which led to Southampton midfielder Steven Davis giving his side the lead at the Etihad Stadium, before an eventual City comeback.    

Similarly, in his sole Champions League appearance against Borussia Dortmund, Rodwell’s intended pass to Matija Nastasic was intercepted by Marco Reus, who then scored.

That night a late Mario Balotelli penalty spared City defeat, but Rodwell’s performance typified a season to forget in Europe. 

Some have even suggested he might have been better off staying at Everton where he might have had more opportunities to play regular football.

But the lure of Champions League football and challenging for the Premier League title are undoubted incentives for any player, regarding of playing opportunities. 

To some Rodwell was also a product of a summer where City’s desired transfer targets – including Robin van Persie, Eden Hazard and Javi Martinez – got away.

However, it must be noted that Rodwell was captured early by boss Roberto Mancini, with undoubtedly has a bright future in the game and could eventually prove to be a bargain.

Let it not be forgotten he was long touted for a move to fierce rivals Manchester United before his transfer to the Etihad Stadium last August.

He is one season into a five-year contract and is part of a move by Mancini to build a team that can challenge for honours for many years to come. 

Arguably this is due to the impact of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations coming into force and restraining the spending done by the club over the past few years.

But with Gareth Barry not getting any younger and Nigel de Jong sold, City’s midfield needed an enforcer and Rodwell could eventually prove to be that.

While still awaiting his maiden first-team goal, he scored a hat-trick for their Elite Development Squad last week against Oldham Athletic.   

After a disappointing Premier League campaign, Rodwell has the chance to win his first winners medal in next weekend’s FA Cup final with Wigan Athletic.

If this campaign can be ended on a high, then both Rodwell and City will come back next season with a point to prove. 

Image courtesy of MCFC, via YouTube, with thanks

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