The story so far
There was a real sense of optimism amongst Latics fans when Jordan Jones arrived from Scottish giants Rangers in the summer. We had allegedly fought off interest from a few Scottish clubs and Sunderland, the club Jones spent the previous season on loan at, to secure the Northern Irish international to a 3-year deal.
But since arriving, Jones has struggled to nail down a place in Leam Richardson’s starting 11, with his last league appearance coming over 2 months ago. He has only featured from the start on 3 occasions and has been substituted in them all.
But perhaps the most puzzling thing about Jones’ absence, particularly from a supporter’s point of view, is that he looks promising whenever he plays. Searing pace, bags of tricks and the ability to deliver dangerous crosses into the box, Jones on paper is the perfect ‘super-sub’.
And this was highlighted in his last league game for club; an impressive 25-minute cameo away at Cambridge United. Introduced to the game when Latics were 2-0 down, Jones’ pace and trickery ramped the pressure up on Cambridge’s tiring defence and helped secure a point that prior to his introduction had seemed unlikely.
So what is the reason for his lack of game time?
It’s important to acknowledge there is far more that goes into signing a player than just analytics. Leam Richardson has spoken numerous times about the importance of signing ‘good people’ since taking over as manager, and that the mental side of the game is just as important as the technical side.
But a player obviously must be able to play, and when we look at Jones’ statistics in the season prior to joining Latics, we can see exactly what made Leam and co so interested in signing him.
In his loan spell at the Stadium of Light Jones racked up an impressive 0.63 goal involvements per 90 minutes as the Black Cats failed in their promotion bid for a third consecutive season. This ranked him joint 10th in the league for this metric, ahead of wingers such as Siriki Dembele, Keane Lewis-Potter and one of our own Callum Lang.
A huge part of our style of play is getting good deliveries into the box, and Jones again excelled in this metric at Sunderland last season. He delivered 9.09 crosses per 90 minutes for Lee Johnson’s men last season, the 3rd highest total by any player with over 900 minutes played.
And Latics fans might be surprised to hear the 27-year-old ranks top for crosses per 90 in our current squad with 8.44, almost 1 ahead of second place James McClean.
But his main struggle has been goal contributions. A solitary assist in the 4-1 away victory at Accrington Stanley means Jones has registered just 1 in 291 minutes, or 0.33 per 90. However, this does put him ahead of fellow winger Gwion Edwards in this metric.
I don’t think I’d be alone in thinking Jordan Jones still has a huge part to play for us this season, and I’m sure there is a reason behind his absence. There seems to be growing speculation that Jones is unsettled, with some suggesting a fall out with the manager is the reason behind his absence.
If this is the case, his absence makes sense and I imagine his time at the club is limited. If there has been no fall out, I’d imagine most Latics fans will be just as puzzled as I am as to why we haven’t seen him play in months.
I guess we’ll see what the future holds…
All stats taken from FBREF.com