Wayne Rooney and Jordan James disagree on Birmingham City ‘unknown’

Wayne Rooney and Jordan James discussed Birmingham City’s midfield strategy with the media. Birmingham City boss Wayne Rooney and midfielder Jordan James are split on where the Wales international should play. Where James performs at the highest level has become a relative unknown: Is he a versatile player? A score of eight? A six?

Both the head coach and the player were asked the same question following the Blues’ 3-2 loss to Leicester City, in which James scored both of his team’s goals. As a result, the 19-year-old played as an advanced eight, coming late in the penalty area. It worked well, as James scored a calm and gentle finish into the bottom left-hand corner before doubling his tally in the second half with a delicate scoop over Mads Hermansen. James has also performed well as a six, sparking a discussion.


Wales call up Birmingham teenager Jordan James for Nations League games -  BBC Sport


Rooney shared insights about their conversation with James a few weeks ago, acknowledging his versatility and skills. He noted James’ proficiency in playing as a defensive midfielder (‘six’) similar to his role for Wales. However, observing James in training, his ability to make effective runs into the box and display sharp finishing convinced Rooney that James is more suited as a central midfielder (‘number eight’).

Rooney emphasized that although James might operate as an ‘eight’ in some matches, he possesses the flexibility to excel in both roles (‘eight’ and ‘six’). Rooney expressed satisfaction with James’ recent performances.

Despite still being a teenager, James lacks the physicality of players like Krystian Bielik and Ivan Sunjic. Nevertheless, he compensates with impressive speed, endurance, and a keen sense of playing out of tight spaces. His knack for finding accurate passes to wide players adds to his strengths.

James has notably demonstrated his proficiency in scoring, having notched four goals in the Championship this season. His adept anticipation enables him to time his arrivals into attacking scenarios adeptly, often catching opposing defenders off guard.

Regarding the ongoing discussion about his position, James stated, “Ultimately, I play in the position the manager instructs me to play in. He seems to believe I can contribute goals. I adapt to his instructions. While I may feel more at ease in the defensive midfield (‘six’), I am capable of performing as a central midfielder (‘eight’). I feel assured and aim to sustain that form.” This statement suggests a willingness to adapt, indicating that there might not be a singular fixed position for him, and it could vary from game to game. However, what remains evident is that James’ adaptability has become, and will remain, crucial for the success of Rooney’s tactical setup.

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