The mere mention of his name causes division amongst Norwich’s fan base. A player burdened with the marmite effect. Supporters are rarely indifferent regarding the 31 year old. You either laud him or you don’t rate him.
There seems no middle ground.
While to many he is seen as an ineffective and inferior understudy to Nelson Oliveira, the criticism of the striker is often exaggerated. He has his faults admittedly, but so does every player who crosses that white line donning yellow and green.
His first touch is questionable, his running often away from goals and his goal scoring record isn’t the best. But Jerome is a top operator in this division, and City are fortunate to be graced with such an experienced and streetwise manipulator.
The arguments against Jerome are understandable. His technical quality is far humbler than Oliveira’s but I sit on the side of the fence where Jerome is considered a viable and good option – albeit not the most potent that City have in their weaponry.
Two goals since Easter is a damning statistic but what should be remembered is the backseat Jerome was perched on due to the proliferation in form suffered by Alex Pritchard and Oliveira in the dying embers of last campaign.
This season, the service has been minimal, if not non-existent at times, and Jerome is used merely to relieve pressure and occupy the back two of the opponents. And what shouldn’t be discounted is the starring role Jerome played in the recent revival.
As an away forward, there are little better in this division. Whilst at home, Oliveira is, and should be, preferred.
Jerome negotiates games away from home as well as anybody; Ipswich being a prime example of how Jerome can be used in a way to relieve pressure and bring the team up the pitch.
As a ‘defensive’ forward, Jerome has savoir faire in these situations. Norwich will never receive anything more than his best, and in this division that is what is needed to grind out results away from home.
Jerome’s strength is running in behind. When teams drop deep to defend at Carrow Road, he’s at his least effective. This causes him to play with back to goal, an inevitable weakness and his touch isn’t good enough to accommodate this. Jerome requires ball to run onto, but with the lateral and patient build up, this has been a rarity thus far this season.
A striker is merely as good as the service he receives, and Jerome has been feeding from scraps.
Under Daniel Farke, he is much more than a striker who is designed to score goals. He is an integral member to the defensive unit, particularly on the road. He is the player who initiates the press and leads the midfield as a collective group. If Jerome presses alone, he merely gets taken out of the sequence and it bypasses him.
It’s tough as a football fan hearing a striker being labelled with negative terminology. Being ‘defensive’ isn’t considered a strength of a striker. He is there to score goals, right?
It’s a common misconception. Jerome differs to Oliveira in the sense he isn’t the pivot of the attack. Jerome is arguably more of a team player, and his presence in the team allows alternative players to grab the gauntlet and impress, James Maddison for example. He occupies the centre-backs and this exposes a good amount of space for Maddison to work in.
A striker is so much more than scoring goals, particularly in this more contemporary period where the age of the traditional 4-4-2 is all but history.
The lone striker role is the most daunting, difficult and devitalizing role to play. As somebody who has played it, I can tell you that first hand. I’d challenge anybody who thinks it’s a stroll to try it.
All of this said, Jerome has seemingly lost a yard of pace in the last year. His penetration in behind defences has wilted and his link up play isn’t good enough at present. However, to disregard such an experienced operator as sub-standard is silly. This is a 31 year old who understands the game and is an intelligent guy.
He’ll understand more than anyone his role at present.
When you also consider that he discovered his place in the starting line hours prior to a big derby match, his professionalism cannot be critiqued, nor can his ability away from Carrow Road be disputed. Yet at home his style is best suited to an expansive, swashbuckling opponent.
What’s becoming increasingly evident is the club’s need for a new front man. A different sort of weaponry would be ideal. Perhaps a ‘poacher’ style forward who can play on the shoulder on the last defender and is designed to score goals. Lower down the leagues, players like Jack Marriot for Posh and Devante Cole for Fleetwood immediately spring to mind.
But I digress, and what the underlining message of this article is, if there is one, is to highlight Jerome’s qualities. I’m not for praising players for indefatigable, every player should be expected to graft. Yet to those who say Jerome is being praised simply for working hard, he isn’t – his wider game is much more impressive. It’s one component of striker who has his flaws.
His qualities outweigh his criticisms and due to the manner of the man and the footballer he mostly likely knows them more than anybody. He’s not a 20-goal a season player, but he’s not one to be tossed onto the scrap heap.
Division is expected on some players. What I adore about Jerome might differ to Gary or Mick Dennis for example, but there is a player who is a top operator in this division and an experienced head.
The club would do well to find many other strikers happy to play second fiddle, especially one which possesses the quality of Jerome. As back up strikers go, there aren’t many better in this division.
Reliability. Diligence. Calmness.