Jordan Rhodes: what could have been?

September 4, 2012 in Championship

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I don’t wear football shirts anymore. I’m 25; I think they would make me look like one of the blokes out of the Jacamo advert. I feel like if I threw on my team’s shirt, I’d start using words like “banter” and “brap”. However, as a kid, when I got my team’s shirt, I always wanted my favourite player’s name and number of the back. If I had purchased my team’s new shirt at the start of this season, however, I would now be the owner of an obsolete “Rhodes 17” shirt. Yes, it finally happened. After an entire summer of batting away rumours, Jordan Rhodes finally left Huddersfield Town for Blackburn Rovers….no, seriously, Blackburn Rovers.

It’s very difficult to lose a club icon. There was an inherent sadness over me on Wednesday night as I couldn’t stop thinking “what could have been?” I remember last May in the glow of the Wembley sun, Rhodes stepping up to take the sixth penalty in the shoot out that promoted Huddersfield to the Championship. As he strode forward, fans looked at each other wondering “hang on, why wasn’t Rhodes in the original five?” We assumed nerves. I looked at the guy next to me and said “please tell me the last kick for this club won’t be one that keeps us down”. He scored, and a long time later, after numerous other penalties, we went up.

We all still expected to lose Rhodes. 40 goals in a season doesn’t go unnoticed no matter what league you play in, and sure enough, after his sale last weekend, our chairman and lifelong fan, Dean Hoyle came out and admitted there had been a significant bid back in January (rumoured to have been West Ham of around £6m) which Hoyle rejected, even though Rhodes wanted to talk to the club. Hoyle said to Rhodes, “stay and help get us up, and then in the summer, if an acceptable bid comes in, I won’t stand in your way”. During the summer, there were rumours of bids from Fulham, West Ham again, Brighton, Nottingham Forest, but only Blackburn publically stated they’d made a bid. As fans, we were all sure that if Rhodes were sold, he wouldn’t be sold to a fellow Championship club for two reasons: 1) No-one could afford the £8m asking price, and 2) He wouldn’t want to go to another Championship club. Shows you what fans know!

So last week, after much public crowing, Blackburn met the £8m price (+ add ons) and Rhodes asked to leave. Hoyle stated that he would have happily rejected the bid if Rhodes wanted to stay, but with rumoured wages of around £35k being offered, Rhodes is now a Blackburn player. Some fans got angry but I think most were just disappointed. Since joining Huddersfield, Rhodes has been nothing short of perfect. He has scored goals for fun, but still got dropped for massive games in 2010/11, yet said nothing, worked hard and came back better. He has always spoke clearly of his desire to do well for Huddersfield whilst all the rumours were circulating, so the general sadness that fans felt last week was due to the majority thinking this is a terrible career decision for Rhodes.

I understand that money must have played a large part in his decision. He is on a huge wage for someone his age and should be set for life, but just why any player would want to go and play for Blackburn at the moment is beyond me - a club that is seemingly falling apart at the seams, an inept manager who the fans can’t stand, a bizarre group of owners calling their own players pensioners and attendences already 10,000 short of last season. Sure, they have more chance of a promotion than Huddersfield this season but why not stay at Town till January, score a bunch of goals, and then jump up to the Premier League when the clubs inevitably come calling?

This weekend, Rhodes made his debut for Rovers in a 3-3 draw against Leeds. According to reports, he hardly had a sniff. According to fan reports, Kean was trying to play him as a target man, a role that Rhodes simply cannot do. It’s only one game in and already Rovers fans are shaking their heads in disbelief that their manager would pay £8m for a player and then have no clue have to use him.

Huddersfield fans will move on. Hopefully when Rhodes returns to the John Smiths Stadium with Rovers, he is given a decent reception, but what could have been Jordan? You could’ve been a club legend. You could’ve been the highest scoring in our history. You could’ve been whatever you wanted to be before reaching the Premier League. Unfortunately, now you have to be whatever that idiot Kean wants you to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had you playing as a right winger soon.

Now where is that Jacamo catalogue? I need to order a new XXXXXXXL rugby shirt, the XXXXXXL just doesn’t fit anymore.