The specialist centre-forward for which Sheffield Wednesday spent an entire transfer window trying to sign finally arrived on deadline day two.
The Owls completed a season-long loan for Jack Marriott early in the day, allowing the Derby County exile to feature at Birmingham City on Saturday – if he’s called on by Garry Monk.
But what can Wednesday fans expect from their new number nine?
We got in touch with Tom Thorogood, the editor of our sister site, Derby County News, for some insight…
Hi Tom. What sort of striker is Marriott? Can he perform in isolation, or does he require a partner?
TT: Marriott is first and foremost a goal scorer. When you think of strikers, some take up the role of target man, others act as a false 9. Marriott is a player who plays on the shoulder, loves to run in behind and when in confident mood, his finishing is top class as Leeds United found out in the 2018-19 playoff semi-final.
A key point, however, is that he needs players close to him. He can play as a lone forward in a 4-3-3, but he would require a wide forward to almost push up alongside him or a number 10 to create for him.
Under Frank Lampard, he had Mason Mount and Harry Wilson as creative outlets, while Martyn Waghorn featured as a wide forward and offered a physical presence close to him. It got the best out of him, and he would have been an even greater hit had he not struggled with fitness issues on and off.
I think we all enjoyed the Leeds one, likewise his winner against Sheffield United earlier that season (less so the goal he scored at Hillsborough, which was also very well-taken).
Does he have any (other) notable strengths/weaknesses?
TT: His notable strengths are his speed of thought, direct running in behind and his finishing ability. His weaknesses include his height – standing at only 5ft 7inch he isn’t likely to be a threat in the air – while you can’t expect him to act as a target man. Marriott, quite notably, isn’t renowned for his instant ball control or an ability to drop short, shield the ball from defenders and bring others into play.
He had a decent first season, which was also his first one, proper, at Championship level, in which he scored 13 goals in 43 games across all competitions. But he’s only managed four since then – what happened?
TT: His decent first season simply coincided with a system which gets the best out of him. As mentioned previously, Wilson and Mount were leading Championship payers in terms of creativity while Derby’s high pressing that season often saw Lampard’s side win the ball high, and quickly feed Marriott in space.
Phillip Cocu’s Derby, in contrast, are a completely different side. Derby drop back out of possession to the half-way line, leaving Marriott isolated upfront both in pressing and from a positional sense. When Derby retrieve the ball, he is then tasked to play as a target man – a role he just isn’t suited for. Many argue his lack of goals last season were merely a reflection of the role he had been tasked to fulfil.
Derby have extended Marriott’s contract, which was due to expire next summer, by a further year and can bring him back in January, should they wish to. Mel Morris has also said that Marriott has a future at the club. Do you foresee him playing again for the Rams?
TT: Derby extended his contract as a way to protect their investment. I can’t see how Marriott, under Cocu, has any future at Pride Park, unfortunately. It’s just one of those things.
Derby will likely hope a good spell at Sheffield Wednesday will lead to a permanent move either in January or the following summer with his deal now expiring in 2022.
How do you, and Derby fans in general, feel about him leaving?
TT: Rams supporters are inevitably frustrated. But most can understand the reason behind Marriott’s exit, with disappointment rather at the lack of a centre-forward ‘target man’ arrival during the transfer window.