Jermain Defoe is a curious beast. Having scored 140 goals in 349 games he will go down as one of the most potent strikers our club has seen and yet opinions are divided.
After scoring 6 goals in 3 starts many fans and pundits were calling for Jermain to start against Chelsea, and another goal against Anji last week in the Europa further intensified those calls. AVB duly obliged against West Ham and the less said about that game the better.
It would be unfair to say he’s had his opportunity against West Ham to prove himself but this isn’t the first time Jermain has failed to deliver when we really needed him to. Like many other England Internationals, he’s a form player, either a 4 out of 10 or a 9 out of 10. There’s never been any great consistency. He’ll score in the cup games against lower opposition running lesser defenders ragged with his pace. Like most top strikers, with the right service he’ll usually hit the target and with his ferocious right foot he can score from outside of the box as well as in. However, when it comes to the big games, the ones that really matter, he stutters and turns into the greedy kid on the school football team. He’ll shoot any chance he gets and becomes the most frustrating player we have.
It’s not his fault but Defoe is in the Redknapp bracket of media hype. Against Villa in the cup Dean Saunders on 5Live couldn’t talk highly enough of him, at one point blurting out “that’s what you get with Jermain Defoe, he’s world class”. World class, Dean? Steady. It’s easy to see why people rate him so highly though as when he’s on form there aren’t too many strikers as explosive as him. But world class players and very good players still offer something to the team when they’re having an off day. Jermain is a goalscorer and if he’s not scoring goals he’s ineffective. For a striker dubbed ‘Englands deadliest striker’ by commentators across the land his record of scoring over 15 goals in only five of the past 10 seasons in poor.
In this day and age where the focus is on powerful athletic midfielders with the ability to score and play higher up the pitch Jermain is in a sense too old fashioned. He’s all about sitting on the defenders shoulder and running on to a through ball. AVB and other top managers want more from their strikers; they’ll want him to drop deep, link play with the midfield and draw defenders out of position creating space for wide players to cut into. I’m not sure Jermain has the ability to offer that which is why Soldado has been preferred in the league this season and why Adebayor was favoured in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation last year.
At this stage in his career Jermain is unlikely to change and will have to get used to being second fiddle to Soldado and possibly Adebayor when he returns.
I love Jermain, we all should, he’s given us many a great performance and has scored a fantastic number of goals. But there will always be the feeling that he never quite fulfilled the potential he had. Daniel Levy and AVB have big plans for our club and they want us to be competing for the title and in the Champions League year in year out. Unfortunately for Jermain Defoe, we’ve outgrown him and from now on he should be viewed as an impact player from the subs bench rather than a serious first team option.
But we should be proud of him. As the song goes, ‘Jermain Defoe, he’s a……’. Perhaps not.
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