Jelavić’s loss of form at Everton was down to Hibbert injury

Jelavić: "boss slotter". At least he was when Tony Hibbert was about.

Nikica Jelavić
Jelavić… Croat (Image: Steindy)

Nikica Jelavić, newly of Hull City: a “boss slotter”.

At least he was between August 2010 and May 2012, when he scored a total of 47 goals at Rangers and Everton, the vast majority of which with a predatory one-touch finish.

Then something happened. Lingering fatigue from representing Croatia in the European Championships? A sudden and inexplicable desertion of confidence?

A sudden and explicable desertion of confidence? An infrequency of presentable chances overdosing him with nerves at the vital moment, perhaps.

David Moyes was accused of misusing him, a notion not entirely in tune with Jelavić’s devastating form when he first arrived at Goodison Park – nor indeed the sitters missed subsequently, not to mention his four largely fruitless starts at the beginning of this season.

Lest we forget…

Some attribute Jelavić’s loss of form to the departure of Tim Cahill, a contestable assertion. Of Jelavić’s 11 goals during the first five months of 2012, Cahill was present on the pitch for at least four of them.

Possibly five, depending on whether he was substituted before or after Jelavić’s second in the 4-4 draw at Manchester United.

Both substitution and goal are recorded as having occurred on 83 minutes, and this writer can’t remember which came first.

That’s the problem with this research malarkey: it’s not foolproof.

Whether four or five out of eleven, the statistic remains conveyable as ‘less than half’ – whereas Marouane Fellaini was on the pitch for nine of them, ergo most of them.

We bring Fellaini into the equation because he was first choice post-Cahill to play off Jelavić, as indeed he had done for several of Jelavić’s ‘purple patch’ strikes, with Cahill playing further back.

You can read all sorts of things into it, mind. Take this, for example:

Six of the eleven goals were scored between the minutes of 22 and 33, with a further two first-half goals (on 7 and 40 minutes against Newcastle United) to his credit.

Thusly, we may conclude that Jelavić should, going into the 2012-13 season, have been in a first-half groove with Fellaini.

But like we said, you can read all sorts of things into it. A more striking correlation is the presence at right-back of Tony Hibbert during the ‘purple patch’ and Séamus Coleman during the ‘lean spell’.

There you have it: Jelavić needs Hibbert around if he’s to be on his A game. You can prove anything with facts, see.

Will he succeed at Hull? Well, he scored twice on his final appearance for Everton, in a 4-0 FA Cup win over Queens Park Rangers – but then you could argue that those were enabled by the seemingly disinterested Championship opposition.

So, like some kind of inverse Wigan Athletic, Nikica Jelavić goes from Roberto Martínez to Steve Bruce. It could prove a canny signing, although Martínez has more than earned the right to have his judgement respected.

Yes, with Aiden McGeady too. And Kenwyne Jones, if that’s actually happening. And indeed Arouna Koné, who has actually looked quite bright despite sitters missed against Stevenage and, oh look who it is, Hull.

You can too start a sentence with a preposition. Shove it up your Arsenal.