The Colossus of Jordan Rhodes: Part 3 - Goals, More Damned Goals and Statistics
This is the final section of The Seventy Two’s three-part examination of the goalscoring phenomenon that is Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes, written by Marco Jackson.
The goal at Notts County was Jordan’s 83rd for club and country; rather neatly, he has made 165 appearances. That’s practically a goal every other appearance on average, which is nothing if not impressive. It is slightly misleading, though. Only 62 of those appearances lasted 90 minutes. It works out that Jordan has played 11,196 minutes (as of January 2nd) since his debut (including games for Ipswich, Oxford United, Rochdale, Brentford, Huddersfield Town, Scotland Under-21s and the Scotland national team) so his 83 goals have come at an average of one every 134.89 minutes – the best figure it has ever been, as you can see on the graph below.
As with anything of this nature, there’s a wild start as the numbers start balancing up, but then there’s been a gradual improvement towards the figure we have today, which is deeply impressive stuff. The axis you can see is drawn at 90 minutes – its as useful a divider as any and, if you were wondering, the previous time Jordan was below a goal every 150 minutes was just after he joined Huddersfield, when it dipped to 144.07. Constant improvement, then, which is always the sign of a good player – a similar pattern emerges when analysing Anthony Pilkington last season and there’s no reason why Jordan couldn’t go on to emulate his success in the top flight.
That graph brings to mind the numbers you hear bandied about regarding Europe’s elite – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and, at the moment, Robin van Persie. So how does Jordan stack up? It’s rare for a Huddersfield Town player to be top goalscorer, though Iwan Roberts was joint most prolific marksman (along with Dean Holdsworth) in 1991/92 and obviously, Marcus Stewart (on whom a little more later) went on to be top English goalscorer in the top flight the season after he left Town.
There are five players worth looking at alongside Jordan Rhodes: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robin van Persie and Jeremy Perbet (of the Belgian club Mons). Taking all the games these five have played in 2011/12 up to January 3rd (Messi has played 29.3 full matches already!), we end up with the graph below – tremendous stuff from all five averaging more than a goal for every 90 minutes played into the new year, though Van Persie has drifted over it after failing to score against Fulham.
It goes without saying that Rhodes is nothing like the player Messi is, but that’s not the point. Jordan, at the level he is playing currently, is more effective in terms of goals scored than any other player in Europe; something that becomes even more impressive when you consider there are no penalties amongst his tally (Ronaldo has 9/30, Messi 3/31, van Persie 1/25 and Perbet 2/17).
You will have noticed, incidentally, that Huddersfield Town are not clear at the top of League One, nor winning every game. This means that Jordan’s goals are very much gaining the team points this season. When Gary Roberts scored the opener at Meadow Lane, Jordan had scored Huddersfield’s previous eight goals; so where would League One stand without him? Of course, it is not an exact science, and certainly Lee Novak and Alan Lee would have picked up some of the slack, but at least it will illustrate how influential Jordan’s goals have been to Huddersfield’s season so far.
Of the 44 points Huddersfield have gained, 16 of them would not have been achieved without goals that Jordan has scored (36% of their total), including – most spectacularly – that one point at Hillsborough. In mid-December, Rhodes had scored 26% of Huddersfield’s goals since he joined the club, exactly the same ratio that Grant Holt had scored of Norwich’s goals during the same time frame. And if there are any footprints that a Football League striker should be aiming to walk in, Holt’s are good ones to aim for.
What you’re looking at in Jordan Rhodes, then, is not just a young striker who is bang in form, though he is certainly that, but a man who is improving all the time, and will only get better. He is an extremely valuable asset to Huddersfield. As with any such players in the third tier, there are rumours of ‘bigger fish’ looking at him – there were apparently ten scouts in attendance for a recent game with Carlisle United. West Ham United recently approached the club regarding Jordan’s availability and their reported offer of £3.5million was rebuffed.
That confirmed interest from the Hammers is reflected in the odds on offer for the club to which Jordan will move during January. West Ham and Everton are listed as favourites – Everton need a striker (and have been linked with a certain Jeremy Perbet) but haven’t paid a fee for a player since June 2010, and would surely need to sell before they could pay £4million and more. West Ham seem to be resigned to not trying again, though they must be willing to take part in a bidding war if any took place. Longer odds than those two are Celtic – another club who don’t have a lot of money, reputedly – and Sunderland, who seem likely to sign a striker for a large fee in January.
Huddersfield have been here before. In 1999/2000, Marcus Stewart was scoring for fun and very much a hot property in Division One (as was), with the club well set in the play-off race. The fans were reassured that he wouldn’t be leaving the club and a local newspaper headline from 31st January stated he wouldn’t be going anywhere. The following day’s edition of the same paper gave the unwanted news that Stewart had been sold to Ipswich Town. Not so very long after that, he scored the winner against Huddersfield at Portman Road. Ipswich went on to the Premier League and Marcus Stewart went on to a long and glorious career of top-flight football. I bought his Corinthian figure.
Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle has assured supporters that he remembers the Stewart affair well enough to not make the same mistake again, and there is no reason to doubt his word. Unless a very rich club comes in with a large bid (more than £6 million, plucking a figure out of the air), Jordan will remain a Terrier until the end of the season and then, perhaps, depart if the club are not promoted. Knowing the two clubs’ transfer policies, he might end up at either Liverpool or Newcastle – both of whom would have funds and reasons to buy a relatively untested striker. If so, at least I’ll have another Corinthian figure to buy to sit alongside Marcus Stewart.
NB – All statistics correct up to 3rd January 2012.