Jermaine Jenas: Where Did It Go Wrong For Nottingham Forest's Loan Signing?

He was supposed to be the next big thing, but it never really worked out for the midfielder at White Hart Lane. Now he's off back to where it all began in a final throw of the career dice...
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He was supposed to be the next big thing, but it never really worked out for the midfielder at White Hart Lane. Now he's off back to where it all began in a final throw of the career dice...

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I still remember that day when it all clicked into gear for Jermaine Jenas at Tottenham Hotspur who is set to join Nottingham Forest on loan. A 2-0 win against Everton at White Hart Lane back in October 2005. I was a wee nipper back then, well, I wouldn’t say wee; I was about four stone overweight, struggling with the concept of stairs and 17 years of age. Anyway, it was almost two months since the midfielder arrived from Newcastle United for a fee of around £8m following a reported falling out with then manager Graeme Souness.

He claimed he was fed up of the ‘fishbowl’ lifestyle in Newcastle and craved a move to London and, at the time, it appeared a real coup for Spurs. Jenas was 22-years-old at the time and was tipped to have a big future in the game, having come through the ranks at Nottingham Forest before continuing his form with the Magpies.

That afternoon against the Toffees began in frustrating fashion; David Moyes had set his Everton side out in defensive fashion as they looked to pick up their second win of the campaign. They secured on doing just that in the opening 45 minutes, as Spurs struggled to break the resilient Merseysiders down, but that all changed after the interval.

Whatever was said to Jenas at half-time certainly spurred him to life for the second half. The midfielder began to flex his creative muscles and it wasn’t long before Spurs took the initiative, the England international providing the cross for Mido to head home past Nigel Martyn. Five minutes later, the provider turned goalscorer as Jenas netting from a pinpoint Jermain Defoe cross.

I was a wee nipper back then, well, I wouldn’t say wee; I was about four stone overweight, struggling with the concept of stairs and 17 years of age

It was supposed to be the making of the box-to-box midfielder, who had failed to live up to early expectations following his deadline day switch to White Hart Lane. Yet, since that warm afternoon in October, Jenas has really failed to push on and fulfil the massive potential he showed as a youngster.

A succession of injuries has seen him fail to gain any consistency in the middle of the park and significantly hindered his playing time. In 2007, he signed a five-year deal to keep him at White Hart Lane before signing a one-year extension in 2008, meaning his current deal expires next summer, with the club seemingly unwilling to offer him a new deal, despite head coach Andre Villas-Boas seemingly a fan of the now 29-year-old.

Some claim Jenas will hold a place in the heart of Spurs fans due to his performances against Arsenal, where he regularly seemed to pop up with a goal or two; the 5-1 rout of the Gunners in the Carling Cup in 2008 and his last minute equaliser against the North London rivals in the 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane in 2007 just two examples of this.

Yet, for all his pros as a midfielder, his cons far outweigh them. Jenas possess a hell of an engine on him, which should make him an asset for any team, right? Wrong. Whenever he has the chance to break forward and cause damage to the opposition, he stutters, looks a bit lost before locating the nearest team-mate and executing a well-time sideways pass.

Yet, since that warm afternoon in October, Jenas has really failed to push on and fulfil the massive potential he showed as a youngster

It’s a problem that has dogged him since he arrived at Spurs. When encountered by a tough tackling, combative midfielder, he bears a striking resemblance to a cute little bunny caught in the headlights of an oncoming 4x4. Such actions saw fans jump on back early and it is something he never was able to really overcome.

A loan spell with Aston Villa was supposed to see the re-emergence of the all action midfielder, but his spell at Villa Park came to an end during his first start under then Villa boss Alex McLeish, tripping on the turf against Manchester United, rupturing his Achilles that would see him ruled out for six months.

A summer move was expected, with Sunderland thought to be a possible destination for Jenas before a deadline day move to the Stadium of Light fell through. Now Spurs are looking to ship him out to a Championship side in the vein hope they can eventually sell the midfielder on for a nominal fee, even if they fail to make on a profit on his signature.

Many would call his career a massive fall from grace, but they couldn’t be further from the truth considering Jenas never really reached his peak during his career. Regardless of his 21 caps, a figure I doubt Jenas will add to, it’s fair to assume that the midfielder won’t reach the heights that were predicted of him as a fresh-faced Nottingham Forest youngster. A move away from Spurs will definitely be the best thing for the player, with his career stagnating significantly at White Hart Lane.

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