Will Jewell’s deals reap their rewards?
THE last line of defence has been fortified, while some much-needed creativity and flair has been added to the attack – that’s if all goes according to plan with Ipswich Town’s latest two signings.
There is undoubtedly a gamble element in both the David Stockdale and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas deals.
Let’s deal with Stockdale first, a keeper heading towards the best years of his career who was included in an England squad earlier this year, such was his form at Fulham.
A super signing, the problem being that the only way Town could get him was by agreeing to Fulham’s 24-hour loan recall clause.
And Town fans know only too well the danger of that having seen Asmir Begovic shine for six games only to be snatched back by parent club Portsmouth in 2009 following an injury to David James.
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It’s now just a case of hoping that 38-year-old Mark Schwarzer – who was nursing a groin injury at the end of last season injury – can stay fit at Craven Cottage.
Which brings us on to Emmanuel-Thomas.
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“He could end up playing for England or Eastbourne – I just don’t think he’s decided which yet,” one Arsenal fan told me this week with a telling sigh.
When he’s in the mood the 20-year-old can have the entire stadium on its feet with a moment of magic. A quick search on video sharing website YouTube returns multiple examples of the 6ft 3in player lighting up reserve and youth team games for the Gunners with some mesmerising flashes of skill.
However, supporters of Cardiff City – the club where the youngster spent most of last season on loan – will tell you that he blew cold far more times than hot.
And the fact that Arsene Wenger, who a year ago was bringing him on against Chelsea in the Premier League such was the high regard he held for his starlet, is now ready to cash in for just over a million pounds also speaks volumes. He has clearly run out of patience.
Perhaps a fresh beginning is just what is needed for the man – whose name is shortened to JET – to really get his career to take flight though.
One thing that could really help the erratic talent find some consistency is for his best position to finally be decided once and for all. A left-back for Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup winning side, he was mainly used out on the wing by the Bluebirds last season.
However his best form has come playing in the classic No.10 role, a position from which he scored 10 goals in nine games for the Gunners’ reserves at the start of last season.
Not an all-action pace merchant by any stretch of the imagination, or the hardest of workers off the ball, you have to give Emmanuel-Thomas freedom to float.
Because one thing is for sure, if he gets the ball to feet in the final third, he will do damage through his powerful carrying of the ball, jaw-dropping variety of tricks and ability to finish.
And it is there, behind fox-in-the-box Michael Chopra, that Blues boss Paul Jewell may well utilise him. Will the gambles pay off? Time will tell.