Will Ipswich ever get the most out of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas?
At various points during this season and the last I have been discussing whether Jay Emmanuel-Thomas will ever reach his full potential as a footballer.
At the end of last season when JET hit some good form I remember raising the point that if the former Arsenal man kept up that form he could be an integral part of a side pushing for promotion. In reality he could not maintain this form and he slowly fell into the reserves as this season progressed.
It seems to be the same story every season for JET, the cycle seems almost too predictable. He has started both this season and the last very badly, often failing to produce in the situations that matter. Again, in both seasons he was dropped to the bench at around the half way point and struggled to get back into the side. Gradually this season he has crept back into the team and is now looking dangerous when brought on as a substitute, much like the season before.
The good news is that if the pattern continues he will be extremely useful for the remaining fixtures this season, but if history is anything to go by then Ipswich fans will have to wait over half a year to see him back to his best.
It has been interesting to see what approach Mick McCarthy has been taking with the 22-year-old. When the former Ireland boss first joined The Tractor Boys he said he would not be calling the player by his nickname JET until he lived up to the name, essentially issuing a challenge to the winger.
JET has hardly featured under McCarthy and has even failed to make the bench on some occasions, but recently he has fought his way back into the side. Some argue that he has single-handedly won the club four points recently; which is impressive considering he has only featured as an impact substitute. The player tracked back to make a crucial block against Leicester which helped the side secure a 1-0 win and he set up Carlos Edwards’ goal in the game against Bolton which again ended 1-0.
Due to his highly temperamental form JET’s relationship with the fans has fluctuated a lot. He wasn’t very popular after a slow start to his Ipswich career but eventually he won the fans over. However, the controversial winger then fell out with supporters on twitter at the start of this season as a lot of fans criticised his below-par performances which caused JET to hit out at the fans. It seems to be that fans are now starting to warm up to him again but McCarthy has made it clear that he isn’t completely convinced.
The Ipswich boss was actually quite critical of JET after the Bolton game considering the former Arsenal man had just set up the winning goal. The player is known for his fancy footwork and attacking flair, but McCarthy said that he wants JET to work hard and do the less glamorous jobs on the pitch too. Apparently if he doesn’t do that then he will only be an impact substitute and nothing more.
It seems certain that JET still has a lot of work to do to impress his manager and McCarthy is taking a very strict approach with the tricky winger. Personally, it sounds like the new boss is purposely being hard on his player to try and get the most out of him. It appears to be having a positive effect right now but whether this will get the most out of him in the long-term remains to be seen.