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Jason Norville
Position: Striker
From: Watford FC Academy
Career stats: Soccerbase
He has: Something


He has something. It's undeniable.

The question, of course, is exactly what that "something" is...for, from the very moment that Jason Norville broke into the first team, he was as hard to pin down for spectators as opponents. A target man? Nah, not really strong enough, even after some prolonged weight training when he'd broken back out of the first team. A penalty area poacher? Well, not without considerable coaching. A support striker? Quick enough, certainly, but you wonder whether he'll score enough goals to justify that position. So...what, then?

It's still a little unclear. A series of appearances towards the end of the 2002/03 season revealed many things, good and bad...and yet they still didn't quite come together into a cohesive whole. In scoring an absolutely terrific goal at Hillsborough - robbing a defender on the touchline, then roaring away into the available space before driving an accurate finish into the bottom corner - he certainly confirmed his potential. Really, that potential was already evident, for several defences had struggled to get hold of him previously.

To underline the point, there were further positive signs too. His was the final, selfless assist in that extraordinary match at Burnley a week later, and he was hungry and troublesome in a hugely witty victory at Selhurst Park as part of a pre-Semi-Final odds-and-sods team. And, while Jamie Hand may have stolen most of the plaudits, he was also tremendous in a fine home victory over Derby, leading an inexperienced attack with confidence and zest. At moments like these, that "something" is sufficiently pronounced that it doesn't particularly matter whether it fits comfortably into any of the available moulds.

And yet...and yet....

He's young. He's inexperienced. He loses that "something" down the back of the sofa every now and again. He doesn't yet have the consistency to be relied upon, to "do a job" every week. There's much that's positive about Jason Norville, but there's also much that disappears too quickly and too easily when things get rough, the service starts to dry up, and there are only scraps to feed on. In many ways, that's more important than the fact that his eager youth occasionally leads him to make wrong decisions and snatch at opportunities, even if those moments are more obvious.

So, for all that some people have been excited about the emergence of Jason Norville, what he needs is patience and care right now. He has improved enormously during the last twelve months, and he will surely continue to do so if given the chance. And he will almost certainly be given the chance, considering that the current management team seems totally committed to ensuring that the young players in the squad are allowed to develop in an understanding and structured environment.

It's too early to tell, then. But we can be fairly sure that Jason Norville will begin the next season on the fringes of the first team. And we can also be fairly sure that that's a good thing.

Ian Grant
Last updated: June 2003