Rio Ferdinand sends clear Nicolas Jackson message after Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final defeat

Rio Ferdinand sends clear Nicolas Jackson message after Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final defeat

Rio Ferdinand says Nicolas Jackson ‘moves well’ and is ‘always going to get chances’ for Chelsea, but doubts the forward is ever going to be a lethal finisher like some of the club’s greats of the past.

Jackson completed a £32million switch from Villarreal to Chelsea last summer and has managed just ten Premier League goals across a less-than-convincing debut season, with the Blues languishing down in ninth in the table.

Mauricio Pochettino has persevered with Jackson despite his struggles in front of goal and the 22-year-old was once again guilty of missing a host of inviting opportunities at the weekend as Chelsea were denied a place in this year’s FA Cup final by holders Manchester City.

The Senegal attacker will no doubt be desperate to prove a point when Pochettino’s men look to return to winning ways away to bitter rivals Arsenal, the current league leaders, tomorrow evening.

‘The first season is always difficult for players, more when you are a striker and have to score goals,’ Pochettino told reporters this afternoon when asked about Jackson’s nightmare performance against City.

‘I think he’s our main striker, only striker we have fit because [Christopher] Nkunku nearly didn’t play in the whole season and then [Armando] Broja moved to Fulham.

‘He is doing fantastic, an amazing job for the team, running, scoring goals and giving assists. In his first season, a young guy, he is doing fantastic.

‘He’s going to have my support always. He is fighting for the club, teammates and the team. He needs time to improve. No doubt [he will be better next season].’

Reflecting on Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final defeat on the Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel, former United defender Ferdinand voiced his concerns over Jackson’s inconsistency in front of goal.

Ferdinand believes Jackson is likely to give opposing defenders ‘a hard day’s work’ more often than not, but fears the striker will never turn into a prolific goalscorer like Jermain Defoe or Michael Owen.

‘You change aspects of your game but normally with finishers they’re just born, man,’ the legendary ex-United and England centre-back said.

‘They have always been able to score goals in a certain way. Jermain Defoe didn’t just become a great finisher, Michael Owen didn’t become a great finisher.

‘Jackson might have scored goals throughout his days growing up as a player but I don’t think I could ever imagine him being a clean finisher. He’s not.

‘He does score scruffy goals and it ricochets to him sometimes, off him or whatever.

‘He’s always going to get chances I think because he moves well but in terms of finishing, he’s always going to miss chances.’

On suggestions Pochettino may be playing Jackson out of position, Ferdinand responded: ‘I don’t think he’s a winger. He’s the type of striker who would give you a hard day’s work.

‘But always when he’s going through, you’d think to yourself: “If he’s even through he might not score, the ‘keeper might get me out of it”.

‘But most of the big strikers get by you and you know they’re gonna let off, you’re almost turning around and facing the halfway line again because you know he’s not one of those.’

According to Ferdinand, the difference between Jackson and the likes of Vinicius Junior and Kylian Mbappe is that ‘top players’ do not get ‘disheartened’ when they miss chances or suffer setbacks in games.

‘That’s the difference between the top players and the players that are underneath that top, top, top level,’ he added.

‘The ones that are great… I saw a good clip the other day on Vinicius Junior and Kylian Mbappe. Now we always see their great bits but in a game where they score a goal or do an unbelievable movement and create something, they may have had six or seven other situations identical to that where the ball went out for a goal kick or a corner or they got dispossessed.

‘The big part of that or the common denominator between the big players is that they don’t get disheartened from those small moments in games. They continue to keep charging at the same intensity, with the same mindset to go and achieve, create something or score.

‘The ones that aren’t so good are timid. They become shells of their previous selves rather than saying, “I’m here, give me the ball, it will come good”.

‘It’s such a small thing from the outside but it’s so huge.’

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