PRESS | All Rhodes lead to Hillsborough
Mad About The Boy
“A switched on guy”, “a chatty lad”, “comes across really well”, “a good talker”, “a university degree…”
So went the buzz in the wake of Jordan Rhodes’ introduction to the media today.
I half expected the gentlemen of the press to touch the hem of his training top as he left.
It would have been no surprise to see him gliding across one of the giant puddles in the training ground car park.
If Rhodes is anything as impressive playing for Wednesday as he is talking about how he came to be here, we’re in for a treat.
It was like the second coming.
Except of course, he hadn’t been here before. Not from Huddersfield, not from Blackburn. Every time he was on the move, the Owls drifted in and out of the frame with a regularity that made most Wednesdayites shrug when the January transfer window opened and his name came up again.
So why now? And why so late on deadline day?
Clearly, the last few months at Middlesbrough have been challenging.
Having been brought on board at much the same stage last season, and contributed to the goal difference that gained them automatic promotion, he’s not been a feature of Karanka’s side in the Premiership.
Rhodes’ description of events on Teesside wins over the press crowd.
No self pity.
No finger of blame.
When he says he tried his best and gave his all, you believe him.
Six months of struggle
And his response to what must be a huge professional disappointment is equally engaging; his spare time activities certainly won’t be troubling the tabloid headline writers: keeping fit, studying for his UEFA B coaching badge and a business degree.
But he wants to play football. And that wasn’t happening at the Riverside. “You never know what’s around the corner…the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. That light was Sheffield Wednesday.”
He claims not to have been aware of any approaches from Wednesday in previous seasons.
This time round, he didn’t know there was concrete interest until 48 hours before signing the deal.
He and the head coach both remark on how strange it was to have matches scheduled on deadline day.
Carlos: Rhodes deal is a master-stroke
From Carvalhal’s point of view, he was pacing the touchline at Ashton Gate as the business was being done; for Rhodes, it was the weirdness of turning up at Hillsborough while his new boss and team-mates were nearly 200 miles away in Bristol.
Carvalhal describes the eleventh hour signing as a master stroke by Mr Chansiri.
“A fantastic deal, a fantastic player, fantastic conditions.”
Knowing as we do the chairman takes Financial Fair Play very seriously, it seems whatever was going on behind the scenes in those nail-biting last moments was ensuring the deal was fair, square and as Carvalhal reveals, struck for a much lesser amount than the £10m figure doing the rounds.
So, it seems Rhodes signed up without the benefit of a formal meeting with Carvalhal.
He’s met him before on visits to Hillsborough and “caught a brief word” when the Owls were FA Cup guests at the Riverside.
Of course, that doesn’t mean he isn’t fully briefed in all things S6.
For of course, Our Jordan is Our Andy’s son. He talks to his dad “every day” and counts a fair number of the squad as friends, from Fletcher and Bannan on Scotland duty through to Reach and Wallace at club level.
Incidentally, when Reach first arrived from Middlesbrough he mentioned that Karanka and Carvalhal had similar management styles.
Given his treatment on Teesside, I’d guess Rhodes is hoping they have some significant differences too.
Rhodes celebrates scoring four at Hillsborough in 2011 (Huddersfield Examiner)
But it’s not all about him, as he’s quick to point out. Carvalhal on the other hand looks like the cat that’s got the cream.
“If you ask me if I want him [Rhodes] at the beginning of the season, of course.” (Nobody had asked him that, by the way.)
Carvalhal’s midfielder habit seems a distant memory as he sets about collecting strikers, admittedly letting a couple go as well.
He runs through his customary routine of how important all the front men are, and how vital it is to have options when there are suspensions (Fletcher) and injury (Hooper). Nuhiu didn’t get a name check.
A few weeks ago, the boss used his regular reflections on the Championship’s punishing schedule to mention Joao’s poor recovery time.
The writing seemed on the wall for Lucas – and for the lyrics of our favourite song.
Today he is so happy he even makes fun of himself as he mentions “a lot of games in a few days…blah blah blah”.
On this occasion, as on others, Carvalhal has a point.
Following Tuesday’s draw at Bristol City, the team arrived back in Sheffield at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Our opponents in Friday’s televised game have been recuperating from their 4 nil thrashing by Man United since Sunday.
Forestieri struck the winner in our last meeting
With eight new signings on deadline day alone, it would be wrong to think Wigan have had their feet up.
The flurry of new faces pledging allegiance to the Latics creates problems for our coaching team’s meticulous preparations.
Carvalhal’s strategy to combat Wigan’s starting line-up will be powered by a large dose of guess work. “We don’t know what face they will show.”
As for the Owls, on today’s evidence it seems Jordan Rhodes has a face that fits:
He’s a player who can excite the crowd and, in Carvalhal’s words, “internally… a good guy, a worker, a convivial presence in the dressing room.”
Talking of faces, we’ll have to see if Forestieri’s nose stays in joint.
According to Carvalhal, our reigning Player of the Year is now worth “five times more than when we bought him.”
But that’s for another day.
Will Rhodes play at the DW? Probably not for the full 90 minutes. Will Wednesday grab three points to nudge back into the top six and stay there? Possibly. Are we investing too much hope in one player? Yes, of course. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
You can read the OwlsAlive preview of the Wigan game by clicking here.
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