Football is a wonderful game, and one which seems so predictable week in week out. Fans have their thoughts on who should be playing, who the club should sign, who will win, when they set their football accumulator, but in the end…. football just isn’t predictable at all, which is why things can change so very quickly and surprise us all.
In the art of surprise my blog will focus on two players who have not only turned around their careers at their parent club, but also their footballing careers where there is such a fine line between success, and playing your trade further down the footballing ladder.
My first port of call is Southampton winger Jason Puncheon who impressed again yesterday with a MOM performance in their 3-1 away win at relegation rivals Queens Park Rangers. The midfielder started his career at Wimbledon, before they were then renamed as the MK Dons in 2004. At 26, he has played for 11 clubs including loan spells and has scored in all footballing divisions throughout his career so far.
Finally he appears to have found his home for the future, and after amending his relationship with Nicola Cortese at Southampton, life has begun to look up for the tricky winger who can play down both sides. It is a breath of fresh air for the Premier League newboys as Puncheon not only comes with pace and trickery, but a cool head who can pick out a pass and isn’t afraid of coming inside to link play and look for a shooting opportunity. This was evident yesterday where he scored a lovely curled finish past QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar, and had further opportunities including one strike which whistled past the post.
He has now established himself as a firth team regular at St.Marys, and adds an edge of pace to a very creative attack for Southampton including the talented Adam Lallana, record signing from Bologna, Gaston Ramirez and the Championships top goalscorer last season Rickie Lambert.
Another player who has had a much quicker impact in the Premier League is Reading defender Sean Morrison. The powerful centre half was on the brink of a permanent transfer to Championship side Huddersfield in the summer, before turning out for the Royals against the odds in their 1-1 draw at QPR two weeks ago.
Morrison joined Reading from local rivals Swindon Town in January 2011 and hadn’t played a competitive league fixture until November 4th of this year. He spent spells on loan at Huddersfield Town, where he scored a penalty in their playoff final success last season, and also scored for Reading in the carling cup defeat at Charlton Athletic. Highly regarded, the giant defender never seemed to be able to get his foot in the door at The Madejski Stadium, and had been limited to cup matches, due to the form of player of the season Alex Pearce, and the experienced Kaspars Gorkss.
In September it looked like the end to his short tenure at the club, after being caught urinating outside The Ritz in London. The matter was dealt with internally at the club, although Manager Brian Mcdermott is not one who deals with conflict favourably.
Since then, Morrison has seen a complete turnaround in his fortunes, with impressive displays in the cup matches against QPR and Arsenal, and arguably his best performance, in yesterday first Premier League win of the season against Everton.
For a twenty-one year old, he shows an air of calmness on the ball, strength, an unquestionable presence in the air, and the desire to put his body on the line for the cause. After a MOM display yesterday at The Madejski Stadium, it appears the youngster has cemented his place in the side, and the big question will be who partners him in the near future in the heart of the defence.
So… both Puncheon and Morrison have gone from Zero to Hero at their respective sides this season, with neither featuring in any great detail in the sides promotion last year. It goes to show that football is a funny game, and one which is just to hard to call. Maybe Joey Barton is next with QPR?…..i thought not, but i can guarantee you there will be more to come.