Michael Jacobs is a cracker – just ask Roy Hodgson
Wolves' new-boy Michael Jacobs played a key role in former Baggies boss Roy Hodgson's Anfield demise. Tim Nash explains...
His goal rocked Anfield and hammered another nail in Roy Hodgson's Liverpool coffin in one of the greatest cup shocks in recent years.
Now Michael Jacobs is hoping to help Wolves back to those grand stages as he looks to revive a career that promises so much.
Jacobs might have seen his chances recede since new Derby boss Steve McClaren took over at Pride Park. But at 22, he has already packed a lot into a short career that suggests a change of scenery from the East Midlands to the West Midlands could be all it needs to showcase a special talent.
Just a few weeks after former Wolves and Villa coach Stuart Gray was sacked by Northampton, his successor Ian Sampson handed Jacobs his debut in October 2009 in one of two Johnstone's Paint appearances in that campaign.
But it was in another cup competition that Jacobs took an instant liking to in the following season.
Opening the scoring in a 2-0 Carling Cup first-round win at home to Brighton in August 2010 in only his second career start, Jacobs then played a starring role in the 3-3 draw against Reading, who were beaten 4-2 on penalties to set up that dream clash at Anfield.
And it was Jacobs – still only 18 at the time – who put Northampton 2-1 ahead before David Ngog's leveller forced penalties.
But again the Rothwell-born then teenager showed he has nerves of steel when he coolly netted in the penalty shoot-out as the Cobblers won 4-2 to send Northampton – 69 places below Liverpool at the time – into dreamland and tip Hodgson nearer the Anfield exit door and closer to becoming Albion's new boss following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
A right-footed left-winger with what regular observers say is a scorching shot, Jacobs continued to impress that season as the shining light of a poor team.
He scored eight goals, including a double in a 3-2 defeat to Shrewsbury.
That form earned Jacobs the club's Player of the Year award for 2010-11 in his first full season, and he repeated the feat the following year when he played all 46 League games.
Moving to Derby for a fee of around £400,000 in June 2012, Jacobs has found games harder to come by in one of the most talented midfields in the Championship including Jamie Ward, Simon Dawkins, Will Hughes, Paul Coutts and Jeff Hendrick.
But he has still managed 47 appearances for the Rams, scoring twice. Head coach Kenny Jackett sees Jacobs as possessing similar qualities to winger James Henry, who has wowed fans since joining on loan from Millwall.
"He's got an eye for goal and he's a very creative player," said Jackett.
"I've always seen him along the lines of James Henry, although he's predominantly played wide left.
"Like James, he's got very quick feet, he can shoot, cross and is very creative. He's got that same quality of crossing as James – he has the type of flexibility to play in a few positions to really help us at a crucial period."
Starting with Saturday's trip to Notts County, Jacobs is available for nine League One games before his loan expires on January 2, by which time both parties hope it leads to a permanent move.
Jacobs has made only three substitute appearances this season in the league, so Jackett believes he will be hungry to impress and feels that Wolves have got him at just the right time.
"We really do hope he's got a point to prove," said the boss.
"He needs a fresh chance after not really getting a look-in with the new manager, but it's a very strong Derby midfield.
"He's played just under 150 senior games for Northampton and Derby so that's a good base of experience and it's a good time to take him. With his age and his experience, he can really benefit us."
Jackett tracked Jacobs from his exploits at Anfield and revealed he would have liked to have snapped him up earlier.
"I've followed him for a few years watching him play at Northampton," he said. Then he got his move to a big club which was his big opportunity. It's been tough for him there but when he's played, he's done very well.
"He gives us options on either wing, and in behind the striker and he'll increase our options."
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