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Garnered those skills

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Everton completed the signing of one of Manchester United’s best youth prospects, James Garner on a permanent deal in summer 2022/23 deadline day. Everton are not in a very good position in the league and have tried to strengthen their squad after hefty departures from the club, most notably their frontman Richarlison, who left for Tottenham Hotspur this summer for £52m. With his departure and the latest injury to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and limited options in the market, they went for Brighton’s Neal Maupay. 

The Toffees’ also got names like James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil, Conor Coady, Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gana Gueye on the roster. The team in general has not been playing well and lacks team spirit. 

Frank Lampard has got one of the worst win rate percentages in the league currently and it is not going well. But, he now has one of the best youth prospects in the entire country under his management. Let’s take a deep dive into James Garner, his years in the youth academy, his playstyle and what he can offer to the team.

How good is James Garner?

He joined the Manchester United academy at a very young age and played for the under-8s. He was a central defender till he was a 15-year-old until he transitioned into the midfield. He had good defending ability but playing in the midfield improved his attacking sense by a lot.

He said, “I was a centre-back up until the Under-15s, I think it was, and, in one tournament, I was put into midfield and have not looked back since. I’d like to say I’ve got both of those elements in my game – the defensive side and the attacking side, which can only benefit me in that type of position.”

He played a lot of games while sitting deep into the midfield, shielding the defence. However, his good passing technique and vision helped him find his teammates in difficult situations. He initially developed as a true deep-lying playmaker, playing that role for the Manchester United U23s. He dictated the game well and shielded the defence. He played 22 times for the U23 side and bagged 8 goals over two seasons from 2018 till 2020.

James Garner stats

The England U21 international signed a professional contract at Manchester United in 2019 and even got his Premier League senior debut against Crystal Palace that year aged 19. But, times at Old Trafford were not good enough and he didn’t make it to the first team despite being a fan favourite. 

He was loaned out to Watford in the 2020-21 season in the second division where he played 31 games, coming on as a substitute 9 times. He bagged 4 goals from 3.53 xG and an assist from 3.21 xA with 81% passing accuracy. His defending stats were very decent as well, having a 57% tackle success rate. 

He returned back to Manchester United after that season, where he signed a new deal till 2024, however, yet again failed to make an impression to break out in the first team. The problems at Manchester United were not helping, with the team giving disappointing performances and under bad management. It was not in Garner’s best interests to stay at the club because that would limit his growth by reducing his playing time. So, he moved to Nottingham Forest on a loan deal in the 2021-22 season.

Moving to Nottingham Forest in the 2021-22 season in the second division proved to be one of the best decisions of his career so far. There he showed exactly what he is capable of. Forest team lined up in a 5-2-3 for the most part of the 2021/22 season with Garner playing as part of the midfield pivot alongside Ryan Yates. 

He assumed the left-sided central midfield role with more licence to roam and connect with the front three while Yates served as the more defensive-minded midfielder. This playstyle and him playing to his pace helped Garner a lot. Garner was very active all over the pitch, especially on his left side. Still he floats and covers all areas of the pitch, whether it is to create attacks in the final third or stay in the middle to protect the central areas of the pitch.

During his time at Manchester United while playing for the U23s, he was more comfortable in the number 6 position. However, at Forest he played as a central box-to-box holding midfielder. He participated in the build-up phase in his own half but also liked to receive the balls in small pockets higher up the pitch and link up with the attackers.

The young Englishman made a huge difference to the Forest side. Nottingham Forest’s points per game before Garner was 0.96. Forest’s points per game with Garner is 1.37, a big impact. Since joining Forest, he thrived under Steve Cooper. He averaged 32.4 attempted passes per 90, with an 82.1% pass accuracy. Nearly half of the attempted passes have been played forward, highlighting his directness and reluctance to just play sideways and backwards.

He scored 4 times from an xG of 3.69 and assisted 8 times from an xA of 8.61. He got Nottingham Forest promoted and even made it into the EFL Championship’s Team of the Season.


James Garner scout report

One of his best attributes is being able to carry the ball through the opposition press across long distances, attracting defenders and allowing his teammates to move into space. During attacks, Garner loves to drift into the left half-space area, receive the ball from his wing-back and then turn his body towards goal and provide a pass or attempt a shot on goal. 

Garner created an average of 1.06 chances per 90 due to the majority of his passes played forward, an impressive stat for a number 6. An underrated aspect of his game is his ability to pull off key, cutting-edge passes and thread the needle. He also possesses the ability to switch play to his wing-backs, supply through balls to the wide players and also operate in tighter areas with short-range passes.

He said in an interview once, “I like to see everything in front of me – runs and players popping into pockets, things like that. I like to be on the ball as much as I can and be the one who makes the passes and who makes the goals. It’s something I am really enjoying, sitting there and dictating the play. It’s good.”

Coming to his defensive abilities, he is someone who gives everything for the team and puts in a real shift. His defending can be described as intense. What’s particularly impressive is the number of recoveries, 6.07 per game during last season. He constantly picks up second balls and recycles play. He has engaged in 6.46 defensive duels, 1.45 aerial duels and 3.24 loose ball duels per game, in addition to averaging 3.86 interceptions. His tackles, interceptions and challenges are impressive; he has got passion and hunger to hunt the ball down in the middle third.


James Garner Everton future

Frank Lampard will look to immediately include him within his plans along the rest of the team. It is very important and essential. James Garner can bring something special to this Everton side. His interceptions, his determination to win the ball, his ability to carry it forward and him looking to find the perfect pass.

He is exactly the kind of player Everton need right now. The start to the season has been tough for the blue side of Merseyside, but never say never to a great comeback, especially after this side is full of players with huge potential and experience. 

Everton fans should be excited to watch this absolute gem play and see how much of a difference he makes to the team. The entire team needs to act and need to act now along with the manager. James Garner is young but he can be trusted to deliver, as he has before. He can really be that special, only time will tell.

Aditya Kochhar
A true Red Devil, who has idolised David de Gea for more than a decade. He loves watching conspiracy documentaries, writing poetry and food. He claims to be a God-tier FIFA player and can be seen occasionally ranting while playing it.

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