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"I’m reluctant to say that Jay Spearing would be the missing part of the jigsaw because that’s too much pressure to put on a young man’s shoulders. If he signs, can he turn round our season? It would be a huge ask."
That's what John McGinlay said on the eve of Spearing's signing for Bolton Wanderers. Four games into his Bolton Wanderers stint, Spearing has proven that he's the key piece the Trotters were missing.
We had our doubts about Jay Spearing. His physical size, passing ability, and decision making had been lamented in the past and because of that, his reputation clouded. Spearing signed for Bolton Wanderers on deadline day and has made four appearances for the club since.
In terms of results, it's been 50/50 for Bolton with Spearing, winning the matches against Watford and Sheffield Wednesday while losing at Hull City and Birmingham City. Those losses are much more correlation rather than causation as Hull City was Spearing's very first match with the team (literally a day after signing) and he went off injured after just 16 minutes against Brum. Spearing was arguably Bolton's best player against Hull City.
In Stuart Holden's long absence from the Reebok, Bolton Wanderers desperately needed the presence of a box-to-box midfielder that was not afraid to go in hard on a challenge. That is exactly what Spearing offers the Trotters. Sure, his passing isn't phenomenal and he won't be picking out the man in the corner from 30 yards out but then again, that isn't the Liverpool man's job. Instead, Spearing has done exactly what has been asked of his position.
Spearing is the quintessential centre half. It's his presence that helps keep the team's spine in shape by bolstering the defense and linking play to the forward line. In the 286 minutes in a Bolton kit that Spearing has played so far, he's saved the defense's blushes a number of times by cleaning up after the central defenders are caught out, including a few last-ditch efforts. Without him covering, who knows how many more easy goals the Trotters would have allowed.
Jay Spearing is only 5'6" tall. His small stature does not stop stop him from playing like a man that is at least half a foot taller. The midfield dynamo has the ability to jump and win headers that he really has no business competing for while his low center of gravity allows him to be steady on the ball.
The loanee's game is a relatively simple one. As mentioned before, he won't be pinging Hollywood balls over the top and beating the opposing man with a series of slick stepovers. Instead, Spearing has to get the ball out of danger and more likely than not, find feet rather than forcing the midfielders to bring it down on their chests.
Finally, Spearing is becoming increasingly good at assessing his options. Due to the demands of his simple game, he is not likely to put a ball into space and hope a teammate reaches it before a defender. When the options just aren't there for Spearing, he'll take the shot. Jay Spearing has not scored a goal yet this year and probably won't any time soon, having scored only one competitive goal in the whole of his playing career. Regardless, he still carries a threat from distance and one day, he might get lucky.
Jay Spearing isn't very flash, isn't technically great on the ball, doesn't have the physical size, or the ability to play a spectacular pass. He isn't a creator, he isn't the provider. What he is, is exactly what Bolton Wanderers needed. A strong body just ahead of the defense and one that can push the ball away from goal and further up the midfield.