Jack Rodwell: 'Cheap punt' ex-Sunderland man thought he was still good enough to play for England, but his Sheffield United career didn't work out as planned

After 17 months, two games and 73 minutes of football, Sheffield United announced today that former England international Jack Rodwell will be leaving Bramall Lane when his contract expires this summer.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 4:13 pm

By any metric, Rodwell’s spell in Sheffield has not worked out. He didn’t play a minute last season, a victim of what former boss Chris Wilder called an “unfortunate” injury, and was also hampered by Covid-19 restrictions, which meant he was often unable to leave the first-team “bubble” to play games with United’s U23s and regain some much-needed match fitness.

A three-cap England international, Rodwell was deemed good enough for Manchester City to spend an eight-figure sum to sign him from Everton and then became something of a poster boy for Sunderland’s struggles after moving to the Stadium of Light for a similar fee.

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Privately, some key figures at Bramall Lane when he arrived on a free transfer last January felt that Rodwell was unfairly scapegoated at Sunderland. His situation featured heavily on the club’s Netflix documentary, with them desperate for him to leave and forego his £70,000 a week wages. Rodwell thought that was an unfair request.

In a 2018 interview with the Daily Mail, Rodwell said he believes he is a Premier League player and “an England international, when I’m fit and on form”.

For United, he was a cheap punt that, in a similar mould to their signing of Ravel Morrison, only really had up-side. They were not handsomely remunerated, especially for a Premier League club, and were described as being no trouble at all behind the scenes - but could have proved shrewd acquisitions if they were able to return to something near their old best.

Jack Rodwell of Sheffield United during the training session at the Steelphalt Academy: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Jack Rodwell of Sheffield United during the training session at the Steelphalt Academy: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"From my point of view, [the documentary] is history. All the boxes that I needed to tick, and Jack needed to tick, he has done.

"I've sat down with him for quite a long time and spoke about his career going forward; it aligns with the club's goals.

"He plays a number of positions and hopefully we can get him going."

Unfortunately for manager, club and player, that couldn’t happen, Rodwell joining John Lundstram, Simon Moore and Phil Jagielka in leaving the Blades this summer.