Jelavic Beats Greats To 10
Croatian quickest off the mark in 100 years.
Smashing home the brace which propelled Everton towards a 4-0 rout of Fulham on Saturday may only have added weight to what Nikica Jelavic’s watchers had already been saying: David Moyes’ 'silent assassin' has the ice-cold killer touch to live up to the moniker.
Yet in dismantling the Cottagers in a fashion of which Blues fans are quickly becoming accustomed, the January arrival clocked up an impressive record.
His second goal, squeezed in at the near post from a near-impossible angle, took him to 10 Everton goals in just 910 minutes of action - quicker than any other player in the last 100 years.
Not Graeme Sharp, not Bob Latchford, not Duncan Ferguson, not even Dixie Dean found their way to 10 as quickly as the irrepressible Jelavic.
And while the Croat has some way to go to replicate the achievements of those and many other Blues greats before him, he's certainly made an eye-catching start.
"You've seen great players come into the Premier League and not make an impact, internationally-renowned players far beyond Jelavic's reputation. But what he has got, I think he's got honesty and he's got endeavour, he's got intelligence to play and he's good at a lot of things," said ex-Toffees winger Trevor Steven, a man who kept close tabs on Jelavic while he etched his way on to the scoring charts of another of his former clubs, Glasgow Rangers. "He's not renowned for one particular thing, and if he is going to be renowned for one thing it's putting the ball in the back of the net. He does that on a regular basis."
Jelavic’s two against Fulham followed his maiden goal against Spurs, a close-range effort at Swansea, an FA Cup quarter-final strike against Sunderland, two at Norwich, the opener against Liverpool at Wembley and another brace in the incredible 4-4 draw at Manchester United.
Not bad for a player who came down from a league many consider - in quality terms – to be below that of the English Championship.
"Playing up in Scottish football in this particular era, it's difficult to judge how well a player can do at another level," admitted Steven. "But he was consistent over in Austria with Rapid Vienna and Walter Smith had done a lot of homework on him. Rangers weren't just buying players on what they'd seen on a CV. They'd seen him, looked at him, made a judgement, worked at getting him and they worked hard to get him. So Everton have ended up with player who has been vetted coming in and I think they've made a really good choice."
Indeed, Jelavic’s goals have put Everton in a healthy position to bag a top-seven Premier League finish and end the campaign ahead of city rivals Liverpool for the first time since 2005. Even Moyes is happy to admit he may have found the man he’s been looking for.
"Isn't it terrific the difference it has made to the team and the Club, the goals that have been scored since January?" said the Blues boss. "I think he has been massive for us and the two goals for us today (against Fulham) were very good.
"I definitely think he has had a psychological effect. He has given the players an all-round lift because we have been badly needing a different type of centre-forward for a couple of seasons."
Evertonians, though, will now be looking to next season and beyond. If Jelavic keeps this up, who knows how many records he can break?
“I think Nikica can score more than 20 goals next season,” Davor Suker, the Croatian former Arsenal and Real Madrid striker told evertonfc.com last week.
“The confidence of the team improves when you know you have a striker who can score goals. When people realise he can score in the first or the 90th minute, it is a good thing.
"Goals today are the difference. Everyone can play football but less people can score goals. That is the big difference between the best players.
"To score 20 goals minimum, that is the point of the main striker. For every chairman, every gaffer, when signing a striker, that is the point. I think Nikica can do a great job for Everton.”
THE QUICKEST PLAYERS TO 10 EVERTON GOALS
|Tom Browell (1912)
|Fred Geary (1889)
|Jack Southworth (1893)
Nikica Jelavic (2012)
|Fred Pickering (1964)
|Kevin Campbell (1999)
|Alex Brady (1890)