Jordan Maguire-Drew: What went wrong?

Jordan Maguire-Drew returned to Brighton officially this week, no sooner had he done so than he rocked up as a Jodi Jones replacement at Coventry City. He’s joined them on a six-month loan and, according to Mark Robins, they’ve been after him a while.

“We targeted Jordan during the summer and unfortunately missed out, so we are very pleased to be able to bring him in now,” said Robins. “He has great technical ability and quality, and is a scorer of goals, so we are delighted to get him through the door and for him to start with us. Having got into the top three of the league on Monday, Jordan will supplement our squad very well as we look to establish our position.”

Before we look any further at what happened to him at City, it is worth noting the first line of Robins’ quote there; ‘we targeted Jordan during the summer’. That means Lincoln City were his preferred choice over a side with a bigger profile, better facilities and a former Premier League player in charge. That’s something we should bear in mind when we’re lamenting losing out to other teams, we’re a big draw at this level and getting JMD in the summer proved that.

After a stupendous goal on the pre-season tour of Portugal, Maguire-Drew found himself starting regularly for the Imps. Aside from our opening day trip to Wycombe, he started every game in August, but he didn’t catch the eye of Imps fans. All too often I read (and wrote) words such as ‘has great potential, hopefully we’ll get to see it’. On the ball he showed good technical ability, but that was as far as being impressed went.

Without the ball I thought he was incredibly naïve, almost to a point where he looked clueless at times. That might sound harsh, but even my friend and sounding board Pete, a Manchester United season ticket holder who dips into Sincil Bank without prejudice, remarked how he looked like a little boy lost on the wing. When we had possession he made aimless runs, pointless runs and often no runs. Sure, he asked for the ball but we could all run around asking for the ball couldn’t we? Kevin Gall made a career out of it once his goals dried up.

When he did get the ball he may have been technically gifted, but he was clever with it. He seemed to have one thought every time; run towards goal. If he beat a player and got into a crossing position he was more inclined to drop back and beat the player again than to deliver a cross. It is fair to say by the time Swindon away came around, few were upset at his lack of game time.

He landed a wonderful corner on Raggett’s head that evening and gave us all a glimpse of the talent he possesses in his left foot. A week later he bagged a brace against Everton’s kids to leave us on the cusp of qualifying for the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy, one of the goal a precise free-kick of top flight quality. His celebration said it all, he looked as though he’d been on a journey and finally found redemption. Indeed, he was back in the first team for the game against Crawley, a lacklustre and timid affair in which he barely had a kick. He came off with twenty minutes left for Billy Knott having failed to deliver once again.

Little did we know, but that was that. He picked up an injury and went back to Brighton for rehab and, despite allegedly coming back here in December, wasn’t seen again. Few shed a tear when it was announced he’d joined Coventry this week, most interestingly Danny never mentioned a desire to keep the player at the club beyond his loan spell.

Was it just a lack of consistency that led to him failing at the club? From the outside looking in possibly so. As a fan I didn’t think he looked to like the tracking back and defending and perhaps he fell into the trap of wanting to stand out too much. I suppose loan players get noticed when their name appears in the ‘goals scored’ column which could have made him a little more single-minded than most.

Whatever the reason, the player who promised so much when he arrived delivered very little when it mattered. He’s still got lots of quality and maybe a different system will get more out of him.

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