Stepping Up: QPR begin to see the best of Jay Bothroyd
Seeing how Jay Bothroyd fared after leaving Cardiff City in the summer was always going to be interesting, writes Joe Harrison.
Despite the fact that from a team perspective his 3 year spell in South Wales was characterised by near misses (of the play-offs in his debut season then in them for the following two years), on a personal level they represented the best years of his career, where he finally began to realise the potential always apparent, but rarely fulfilled in his nomadic career up to that point.
Probably the most technically gifted forward player I’ve seen during my time supporting the Bluebirds, Bothroyd quickly became the focal point of Dave Jones’ side: the attacking play of the team grew largely based around his ability to bring others into the game with his superb touch. Indeed, it was a common complaint for years that without Bothroyd the team just weren’t the same; many fans claim they knew the game was up as soon as he limped off early in the 2010 play-off final against Blackpool. He spent his first 2 years as an integral part of the team and a steady, if not prolific goalscorer for the Bluebirds (scoring 12 & 11 league goals).
This all changed in the first half of the 2010/11 season. 13 goals in Cardiff’s first 17 league games was a blistering start, earning him a well-deserved England call up and first cap in the friendly against France on November 17th 2010. Unfortunately, this seemed to mark a turning point in his season, netting only 5 goals in the remaining 29 league games (31 if including the play-offs). Bothroyd’s languid style invites criticism for lack of effort when he’s failing to produce on the ball and many questioned his commitment to the cause after his England call-up, such was the dramatic fall in the level of his performance.
Bothroyd hasn’t helped in this regard by stating in an interview this September: “Being among that England squad really gave me a taste for playing with that standard of player every day. No disrespect to Cardiff, but when I went back to club training after being with England I realised I had to play in the Premier League” (Note his adoption of the classic approach of following “No disrespect” with something disrespectful. Well played, Mr Bothroyd).
So this yearning for playing with players of England squad calibre led him to move on a free to…pre-takeover QPR. Considering the likes of Everton were also rumoured to be interested in securing Bothroyd, it is at this point that I let you draw your own conclusions.
Still, it was always going to be interesting to see how a player used to being the focal point of a team battling near the top of a league adapted to playing in a new team fighting at the bottom of a higher division. A tactical overview of his performances shows that this transition has certainly taken some time. Bothroyd made his debut in QPR’s disastrous opening day, the newly promoted side losing 4-0 to Bolton at Loftus Road. A quick look at the possession misplaced by Bothroyd during the game is very telling.