The Monday Profile: Jamie Mackie
If QPR’s 3-0 win against Doncaster at Loftus Road on Saturday was remarkable, then it was only for the fact that Jamie Mackie failed to take his goal tally to nine for the season. So convincing has the team and their Dorking-born forward’s recent form been that no fixture looks too troublesome for either at this stage.
It was all a little different last season, of course. While Rangers had one Flavio Briatore-sized hand tied behind their back, Mackie spent practically the entire season in the Championship’s bottom three as ex-club Plymouth struggled for air at the foot of the table. Mustering just a measly couple of points from their first nine games, Mackie’s former team started 2009-10 in form diametrically opposed to QPR’s current rate of progress and the hard-working frontman’s head was visibly elsewhere as he realised his own ambition didn’t tally with the direction the Pilgrims were heading.
This season has been an entirely different story, however, and more than a few Pilgrims have been left surprised by the speed at which Mackie’s star has risen. While his enthusiasm and commitment were obvious from the very beginning of his two-and-a-half year stay at Home Park, fans were vocal in their criticism of his natural ability, not least in front of goal. It’s therefore been a humbling experience for the same supporters to see the Wimbledon FC-schooled striker knocking them in at the same level at which he was so often derided.
“Headless chicken” was uttered on just about every occasion that the bounding forward lost control of the ball or overran it, but the truth was that Mackie had very little to work with. Too often shunted out on to the wing, or paired with a duffer in attack, Argyle’s attacking hopes frequently rested solely on Mackie’s naive shoulders, particularly towards the end of his time in the South West. The odd wonder goal illuminated his last eighteen months with the Pilgrims, but most Argyle supporters thought that the club had received a decent fee when ex-manager Neil Warnock cherry-picked Mackie for half a million pounds early in the summer.
With commentators already labelling him as the Bargain of the Season following his rich streak, Uncle Colin isn’t looking so philanthropic now. Surrounded by better players, Mackie’s qualities have found a more suitable home. Playing alongside footballers of Ákos Buzsáky and Adel Taarabt’s quality, Mackie now seems able to focus on providing the team with what he possesses in abundance: outstanding fitness and relentless determination. Having discovered his shooting boots, it all seems to have fallen into place for Mackie so far. It’ll be interesting to see how this story plays out, but for now it looks like those critical Pilgrims may have been a little hasty in their observations.