How often can we claim to have signed a player from one of the top teams in Europe? Technically, with Hibernian currently top of the SPFL, we can today.
City have secured the services of 26-year-old Adam Jackson from the current Scottish leaders, bolstering our central defensive options. It wouldn’t surprise me if we’re not done defensively now, with TJ Eyoma arriving earlier today, but this signing is one which I expect to add the calm head at the back. There’s no mention of the contract length in the press release, but one would assume with a relatively high-profile signing such as this there will be a couple of years in it for him.
Who is Adam Jackson? Well, up until a month before the season ended, he was ‘the first name on the teamsheet‘ at Easter Road, this for a club who finished seventh out of 12 in the Scottish top flight last season. He had fallen out of favour with the previous manager Paul Heckingbottom, the boss who took him from Barnsley to Edinburgh, after going against his manager’s bizarre rant in the media. He also appeared in their Scottish League Cup final against Celtic at Hampden Park and amassed 22 appearances, bagging four goals in the process.
The 26-year-old represented England from under 16 to under 19 level, playing 24 times in total and scoring twice, all whilst on the books of Middlesbrough. He spent time out on loan at Halifax Town, Coventry City and Hartlepool Utd but he left for Barnsley in 2016 without making a top team appearance at the Riverside. He regularly turned out for Hartlepool in League Two in 2015/16, making 33 appearances and scoring three goals. A pattern is emerging here; he likes to get forward on occasion.
He was used sparingly under Heckingbottom in the Championship, making 33 outings in total across two seasons. They were relegated in 2018, but bounced back a year later, with Jackson again used sparingly. However, Daniel Stendel wanted to keep him at the club, but instead of penning a new deal he moved north of the border to play for Hibs. That move saw him make 22 appearances, taking his senior total to 102, with eight goals.
For a 26-year-old, he hasn’t perhaps played as much football as someone younger, but there is potential here if he gets a good run of games for resale. The fact he has had two seasons in the Championship, as well as one in the SPFL, points to him being a senior professional and a strong addition to the squad.
Jackson is predominately a right-sided centre back, although he can play left, and as such, he will offer direct competition to Cian Bolger if we remain 4-2-3-1, or indeed any variation of four at the back. The likelihood is that Jackson will start matches for us, given his pedigree, which could mean Bolger once again being the unlucky individual. Anyhow, Jackson’s stats from last season are interesting and as a comparison, I’ll use Bolger for us, given that we feel he had a strong season. Remember, these comparisons are purely to give you an idea of how effective Jackson was for his side and reflect that with the same figures for our club – they’re not intended as a barometer to measure the two players against each other as variable such as level of opposition, team tactics and the like are to be considered.
So, aerially Jackson was particularly dominant for Hibs, making 7.7 duels per game and winning 70.3% of them compared to Cian’s 7.75 and 69.9%. That’s a really impressive figure, Cian impressed us last season in the air and these figures stack up against his. Whilst I’m sure Jackson can play out from the back, his aerial presence is a threat at both ends. He averaged 0.43 shots per game, with Cian having 0.39, but Jackson scored goals and hit the target just over 50% of the time. They weren’t all headers either; his last goal saw him picking up a loose ball in the box and rifling home. I think he’s going to be the type of defender we push forward for set pieces though, a bit like Jason Shackell with his presence around the 18-yard area.
He made 6.6 interceptions per game (Cian 6.63), with 7.1 defensive duels made per game and 69% of those being won (Cian 5.81 and 75%). Much of Jackson’s defensive stats are roughly equal to Cian’s and perhaps the SPFL can (aside from two teams) be classed as a comparable level to ours, which suggests we’ve signed a decent player. However, in terms of passing, the numbers begin to hint at what additional impact he could have. Last season, his pass accuracy was 82.7%, from 38.3 passes per game. Cian’s stats were 33.66 per game, with 75.7 accuracy. When considering forward passes, Jackson made 18.33 with a 72.9% accuracy, whilst Cian made 14.77 with a 57,6% success ratio. Did someone say we needed a ball-playing centre back? If so, we’ve got one.
Adam revealed the move has been on the cards for a while and that he’s delighted to finally get it over the line. “I’m buzzing to be here, it’s been on the cards for the last couple of weeks and I’m happy for it to finally get over the line. I’d like to think I am honest, reliable and hard-working and I’ll give 100% every time I wear the shirt. I can also get the ball down and play in the style that we are looking to implement this season.”
Manager Michael Appleton was really pleased to sign the centre half adding, “Adam brings great experience to this group and I’m delighted to sign him. He is comfortable on the left and right at centre half and is a real asset in both boxes. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”