The statistics place him as the second leading goal scorer and the joint leader in assists for a side that won the divisional title. In this case the stats don’t lie – Michael Jacobs played a key role in the 2015-16 season for Wigan Athletic.
“Crackers” scored 10 league goals and made 8 assists, an impressive record, given that he missed a couple of months of the season through injury. He made 30 league starts, with 5 appearances off the bench.
Michael Jacobs was the main creative force for Latics over the course of the season. He was often employed wide, but looked particularly effective when operating in the hole behind the centre forward. Jacobs has genuine skill, with vision to match. He has the ability to take on defenders and make incisive passes.
Being a skilful player in League 1 can have its drawbacks, with ruthless defenders not being afraid to stick the boot in, aided by refereeing that can be over-tolerant. It is to Jacobs’ credit that he has not retaliated when singled out for rough treatment. A good temperament added to a strong work ethic makes him a key team player.
Jacobs is still only 24 and his best is surely yet to come. However, the Championship is a very different prospect to League 1. Jacobs has prior experience there with Derby, Wolves and Blackpool, but was unable to make the kind of impression he would have liked. Can he make the transition back to the Championship and be the kind of key player that he was for Gary Caldwell this past season?
Jacobs has the pre-requisites to succeed in the Championship, possibly even in the division above. He has the skill, technique and temperament to become a top player. It is self-belief that will be the key, as it has been for Jamie Vardy at Leicester.
Jacobs is not the only Latics player returning to the Championship. All of them will need to step their play up a gear if they are to be a force in the higher division. Jacobs has as gòod a chance as anyone in doing so.