Jack Rodwell and the long road to redemption

Lazy, a bad attitude, and arrogant.

Not three qualities that you’d look for in a new signing; but they are just some of the criticisms levelled at Blackburn Rovers’ new signing Jack Rodwell from Sunderland supporters. Since the signing was announced, it has been hard to find a single Black Cats fan with anything positive to say about the move – but then again, why would they? 

Rodwell cost a reported £10 million when he signed for Sunderland in 2014, and took home over £70,000 a week when the Black Cats were in the Premier League. In that time, Rodwell suffered a 39-game winless run in matches that he personally started, as well as two consecutive relegations. The midfielder was reportedly asked to leave the club by then-manager Chris Coleman at the start of 2018, with the Welshman stating that “he did not know where the midfielder was mentally.”

There was even talk that the player had gone on strike, a claim that the midfielder strenuously denies. Rodwell stayed, but didn’t feature again, and he finally had his contract cancelled after Sunderland’s relegation to League One was confirmed. 

In his last year on Wearside, he featured twice for Sunderland and finished last season training with the Under-23s. Not exactly the dream the 27-year-old had when he left the security of his hometown club six years previously for the bright lights — and brighter savings account — of Manchester City. 

Funnily enough, Rodwell moved to Sunderland to try and salvage a reputation that took a beating in Manchester, after featuring in only 16 league matches in two years for Roberto Mancini’s men. It’s fair to say that the move didn’t exactly pay off for Rodwell’s reputation, which was now at an all-time low – or for Sunderland’s bank balance. 

Fast-forward to August 2018, Jack Rodwell had been without a club for two months. He’d trained with Watford in the hope of earning a contract, but the Hornets didn’t take him on after an extended trial period.

Rodwell needed a club to take a chance on him. He needed another make-or-break transfer to try and finally kick start a career that has stalled for the past five seasons. 

Enter Blackburn Rovers, newly promoted back to the Championship under Tony Mowbray’s stewardship. The club had already made four summer signings in Joe Rothwell, Jacob Davenport, Kasey Palmer, and Adam Armstrong, but were in dire need for more squad players. Rovers tried and failed to add more players to its squad before the end of the transfer window, but couldn’t get any deal across the line.

At 27-years old, Blackburn have signed a thrice-capped England international, tying him down to a one-year contract on significantly reduced wages to the sort he was earning at the Stadium of Light, but could this deal backfire on Rovers?

Squad harmony has been a key ingredient in Blackburn’s instant return to the Championship, yet adding a player like Rodwell could rock the boat. His ‘bad’ attitude was said to be a contributing factor to his demise at Sunderland, and could have a huge negative impact on his new team. The midfielder also hasn’t exactly been a standout player either in recent years, and comes into a team brimming with young, attacking players. Rodwell needs to play to prove his doubters wrong, but he won’t be the first name on the team sheet at Ewood Park either.

That being said, though, this move could prove fruitful for both parties. Blackburn are taking a chance on a player, who despite lacking quality in recent years, still has time ahead of him to press on with his career. The club are also taking minimal risk on Rodwell; if after one year, it hasn’t worked out, then either party can simply walk away. 

Whether or not the deal will work out for either party is anybody’s guess. Sunderland fans on Twitter have called Blackburn fans ‘mugs’ for believing that the transfer will lead to Rodwell’s redemption, but only the player himself can prove his critics wrong. 

The only bet I want to make is that Sunderland draw Blackburn in the FA Cup this season. Game on.

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