An Introduction to Jay Bothroyd
England’s friendly match against France on Wednesday has taken an interesting turn with the surprise call up of a striker from the Championship.
For someone who’s not English this match would normally be one to avoid, but it may well be worth the effort to see if Jay Bothroyd gets his first cap and becomes the first ever Cardiff City player to play for England. As many people don’t necessarily watch or know the Championship that well, let me give you a bit of an introduction to the player from someone who’s watched Jay for the last 2 and a half seasons.
While for many it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s been called up, England could be about to unearth a hidden gem of a player. Jay offers pace, power, aerial ability and no small amount of skill, in short he’s got the makings of a complete striker. Think Zlatan Ibrahimovic but not at that stellar level. In fact the comparisons with Zlatan are quite apt. Like Zlatan, Jay’s been accused of being a touch lazy, although this tends to come from those sorts of fans or pundits who have that curiously British attitude that you’re not doing all you can for the team unless you’re tearing around like a headless chicken giving 145% for the entire 90 minutes. Truth is that Jay’s game isn’t based on hurtling around the pitch, it’s based on the right place at the right time and timely turns of pace. Jay also has a tendency to go down easily under challenges, but to be fair to Jay he comes out on the positive for the amount of free kicks in dangerous positions or even penalties that he gets by ‘making the most’ of the challenges he’s put under. And he does get quite a bit of treatment from opposing defenders who know how dangerous he can be with the ball at his feet.
Jay is great at holding the ball up and bringing the other attackers into the play. His close control and technique is excellent, meaning he can create time on the ball. And he uses this time wisely. Not only can he bring in the other strikers, he also has the vision and distribution to get the ball to wide players so he can be on the end of the resulting cross (he’s got a good head on him). In addition, there’s always the nagging feeling for defenders that he could quite simply turn them with a deft touch and piece of skill and be through on goal.
Some teams have tried top play a high line against Jay (a dangerous proposition anyway against Cardiff) in an effort to put pressure on and reduce his time on the ball close to goal. However, if France try to do this on Wednesday they need to get it spot on, as Jay has a surprising amount of pace for such a big guy. If the offside trap is a fraction off he will get on the end of through balls and punish the opposition due to his composure in front of goal. Oh yeah, don’t give him time on the ball from a way out, he’s got a hell of a boot on him and he’s not afraid to have a dip.
Like I said, he’s got the makings of a total striker.
All this comes after a wayward career. He started off as a promising youngster at Arsenal before his poor attitude saw him move around a string of clubs, including a slightly surprising move to Perugia for a short stint there. His talent has never been in doubt at all the clubs he’s played at, managers have given him a chance because they see his potential. What has changed is that at Cardiff he seems to have settled and truly applied himself. There were some doubts about him when he signed, however fans could see his give him a chance as his talent was obvious and everyone figured that this was his last chance to fulfil that talent and not go down as one of the ‘could have beens’ that litter football.
And he’s rarely let the Cardiff fans down. His first season was a touch stop start, but last season saw him mature and grow in stature. He supplied assists all through the season and was one of the key reasons for the high goal tallies of Chopra and Whittingham as well as chipping in with a healthy 13 goals himself. This season he has been simply awesome. Jay has 15 goals in 16 games and has only failed to find the net in just four of his appearances for Cardiff. He looks in complete control of opposition defences and quite simply Cardiff City don’t look the same when he’s absent from the team. Just witness City’s defeat in the playoff final where he went off injured in the first half (a sore point for some City fans) and the way that Cardiff looked aimless in the recent South Wales derby for his huge influence on the way that Cardiff play.
Jay finally seems to be fulfilling his potential, and given his stellar form and a host of injuries among English strikers then a call up to the national squad is no less than he deserves. So, I’m happy that he’s going to get a chance at raising his profile and gaining some personal success that is thoroughly deserved. Though a small part of me wants him not to get on the pitch just so that more people don’t know about him and Cardiff can hold onto him until the end of the season.