Football

Nikica Jelavic suffering from second season syndrome?

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Everton striker Jelavic struggled to score goals this season. (©GettyImages)
Everton striker Jelavic struggled to score goals this season. (©GettyImages).

When Everton signed Nikica Jelavic from Rangers for a fee of £5.5million, many fans were sceptical given the poor record of players coming south from the Scottish Premier League.

But a goal return of 11 in 16 games soon changed fans' minds. Jelavic was even awarded with the Player of the Month award for April 2012 after he scored six goals - including two at Old Trafford to dent the Red Devils' title hopes.

But this season has been a much different story. He has only scored once in the league and that was a deflected strike against Manchester City. So what is different this season?

Last year, Jelavic thrived on the knowledge that he was the main man as he was the one player the rest of the Everton team would look for when they needed a goal. 

But this year, Marouane Fellaini has been that man. He would be the first target when Everton had a set piece or were crossing the ball into the box which left Jelavic out in the dark.

Once Jelavic started going three or four games without finding the net he started losing his confidence. The best strikers in Europe thrive on confidence; they truly believe that whenever they shoot they will score.

This just wasn’t the case for Jelavic. As doubt started creeping into his game, he would get nervous when shooting and think too much into where he was placing the ball rather than striking it with the same belief he had last year.

Last year, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar would cross the ball low and early into Jelavic and there was nobody better at hitting the ball first time than the Croatian. 

Not many defenders could react as quickly as Jelavic did last season and he was first to the ball on the majority of occasions. Take his second goal at Old Trafford for example, the ball was loose for no more than a second but he was the first to get his shot away before any of the United defenders could get close to him. 

In 2013, David Moyes dropped Jelavic from the starting line-up and tended to play Victor Anichebe on his own. Anichebe performed quite well. His strength is a valuable asset and he scored impressive goals both home and away against Newcastle. 

Moyes can hardly be blamed; Everton were competing for a Champions League spot. But his continual selection of Anichebe did nothing to help Jelavic’s confidence. 

Jelavic was left on the bench in the big games away to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool which makes you wonder where Everton would have finished if they had Jelavic performing at his best.

He looked tired this term. The step up to the Premier League from the SPL would have been a real change of pace for the hitman. But he was denied a rest as he led the line for Croatia in their Euro 2012 adventure. A good rest over the summer will stand Jelavic in good stead.

With a new manager coming into Goodison Park it is time for a new era and there is no reason why Jelavic can’t be the spearhead of that era. 

If the new boss installs confidence into Jelavic and lets him know that he is the main man then he will find his old form quickly and score the goals to help Everton achieve their targets. 

 

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Topics:
Everton
Football
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