Why signing Jack Rodwell is a shrewd step by Sheffield United
The 28-year old defensive midfielder has been a free agent since leaving Championship outfit Blackburn in the summer. However, it wasn’t a move that the Blades rushed into, with the player impressing manager Chris Wilder while training with them since December.
Rodwell is a former England under-16 and under-18 captain, who rose through the ranks at Everton where he was a crucial player, featuring in over 109 games.
His excellent displays with the Toffees saw him receiving an immediate call up in 2012 to a star-studded Manchester City side that had won their first-ever Premier League title, just the year before.
However, he failed to make it into the starting line-up due to the presence of some established and top-quality players which saw him leave Etihad for Sunderland in 2014, after playing just 26 games in two seasons.
His miseries piled up once again as his career nosedived after the Wearside club dropped into the Championship and League One in the consecutive seasons.
After making 76 appearances for Sunderland, Rodwell fell out of favour in the final stages of his career there, often training with the under-23 side, making just two senior appearances in his final season.
Since departing Sunderland, he went on to make 22 appearances for Blackburn last season in the Championship but chose to opt-out of a contract extension, leaving the club for free last summer.
Back in October, Rodwell was linked with a move to Serie A club Roma, but the Italian side decided against it leaving him on the fringes, eventually leading to a move to Bramall Lane.
Meanwhile, Premier League newcomers, Sheffield United, have had a fruitful season so far as they sit eighth in the table, seven points short of a Champions League spot. By signing Rodwell, Wilder’s United are taking a risk, but it is a risk worth taking considering the club’s little financial outlay.
It is true that the Blades, unlike many other top English clubs, do not have the resources needed to make any major signings that will help them stay in the top-tier.
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Hence, Rodwell’s signing does not come as a big surprise for a side that has still managed to perform decently despite lack of star names in their squad. If Rodwell emulates anything near the form he once enjoyed at Everton, Wilder and Co. will have a real bargain in their hands.
Moreover, Rodwell, who is primarily a defensive midfielder, has the experience of playing as a centre-back, having played in that position for Blackburn last season.
Such versatility could be an invaluable asset for a side like Sheffield if they wish to stay in the Premier League for a longer duration.
There is no denying his talent but either due to reasons of his own or otherwise, Rodwell’s career has not panned out as many would have expected it to. Still, he is an experienced campaigner, having played for a variety of clubs.
Thus, by roping in Rodwell, Sheffield have made nothing to lose but everything to gain if he can revive the form from his glory days.