This article is part of Football League World’s ‘FLW Greats’ series, this content strand is where we look back at a player’s individual season and discuss how impressive they were…
These days Jordan Rhodes has become something of a maligned figure, struggling for game time at Sheffield Wednesday, let alone the goals that every striker strives to be known for.
Of course, it wasn’t always like that for Rhodes, who back in the summer of 2012, convinced Blackburn Rovers to equal their club transfer record of £8million – previously spent on the man who still stands third on the all-time Premier League goalscorers charts, Andy Cole – to bring the Scotsman to Ewood Park as they looked to quickly bounceback after their relegation from the Premier League at the end of the previous campaign.
It was a decision that proved to be inspired almost from the start.
While it may have taken Rhodes until Rovers’ fifth game of the season to get his first goals for the club – a crucial brace in a 5-3 win at Bristol City – after that, the striker would never look back.
Rhodes continued to fire in the goals at a relentless rate for Rovers, showing a clinical and ruthless instinct to get in the right place at the right time to finish a chance from open play, and a remarkable level of calmness from the penalty spot, as he netted no fewer than five penalties across the course of the campaign.
Indeed, it seemed as though Blackburn’s ability to fund a move for a player such as Rhodes was causing some frustration among their Championship rivals, as after a 2-1 win over Barnsley – in which Rhodes inevitably scored – then Tykes manager Keith Hill was left lamenting the parachute payments that had allowed Rovers to sign the free-scoring Scot, claiming it had given the Lancashire club an unfair advantage.
That, however, was not necessarily reflected by the way season was going for Rovers, who went through a grand total of five different managers throughout the course of the campaign, and as the club were gradually drawn into a relegation battle over the season, even found themselves briefly drop into the bottom three at one point towards the latter stages of the footballing year.
Despite that, Rhodes remarkably continued to just do his thing. A stunning hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Peterborough gave former one of the clubs former Premier League winners Henning Berg his only victory in ten games in charge, and Blackburn fans something to remember for years to come.
Then, in February 2013, Rhodes scrambled home the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Ipswich to become only the fourth Blackburn player to score in seven straight league games for the club. No player has ever scored in eight consecutive games for while wearing the colours of Blackburn.
By the end of the season, Rhodes had amassed a total of 26 league goals for the club, becoming the first Blackburn player to pass 20 goals in a league season since Matt Jansen in the 2000/01 campaign.
That return was 21 goals higher than Blackburn’s second-highest league goalscorer – Ruben Rochina with five – and ultimately Rhodes’ goals would ensure Rovers finished the season 21 points better off than they would without him.
Given Blackburn eventually ended the campaign just four points clear of the bottom three, it is no surprise that Rhodes was handed the club’s Player of the Year award at the end of the campaign, and with the way things are going, you have to wonder just how much Rovers must wish they had a striker in the sort of form Rhodes was in during the 2012/13 season right now.
With the way things have played out for Rhodes since his departure from Ewood Park in January 2016, you also have to wonder just how much he must wish the Scot must wish he was enjoying the sort of form he did in 2012/13 season, right now as well.