This season, the ‘old-fashioned winger’ has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the Midlands, thanks to the likes of Stewart Downing, Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant, Chris Brunt and Jerome Thomas. Jarvis has been the man to grab the headlines however. Comfortable on either flank, his rise from league one starlet to Molineux main man and England star has been nothing short of astonishing. That he made his senior bow for the Three Lions having not previously represented them at any junior level makes his rapid ascent all the more remarkable. While friend and fellow winger Michael Kightly was the man to win the plaudits in Wolves’ promotion season, and the last two summer transfer windows have seen Mick McCarthy a combined £12m on strikers in Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher, it is the 24-year-old former Gillingham player on whom their hopes of survival largely rest.
Jarvis’ electric pace is perhaps his most obvious asset, but the secret of his success might just be his temperament. As he was lauded from all sides after his call up to Fabio Capello’s squad ahead of Saturday’s European Championship qualifier with Wales, well-wishers including Mick McCarthy, Wolves coach (and former winger) Tony Daley and Gillingham boss Andy Hessenthaler lined up to praise Jarvis’ work ethic. Spurred on, the player claims, by his rejection by Millwall as a teenager, Jarvis is committed to self-improvement. Like the two most revered British wide men of their generation, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs (whom Jarvis idolised growing up), he has put in the work on the training ground to hone his game. Criticised by management and fans alike in his early days at Wolves for his lack of end product, he has provided six valuable assists this season. When McCarthy told him recently that he was not scoring enough, he responded with two goals in his last three games. That three of those assists helped to take points off Manchester United, Manchester City and Spurs, and those goals came in relegation six pointers against Blackpool and Aston Villa, suggests that he is also a big game player.
His international prospects look bright. None of his rivals for a spot on either England flank have impressed consistently enough to make themselves untouchable, and if Capello continues to intimate that Andy Carroll is the future of the England attack, that impressive, improved delivery that Jarvis provides from out wide could prove a major asset.
For now however, his focus must turn back to Wolves’ relegation battle. The injury to Doyle has only intensified the degree to which McCarthy’s team will rely on Jarvis to get them out of trouble. Despite reported interest from both Merseyside clubs, for now it seems that Matt Jarvis’ destiny is tied to that of his club. With the slavish dedication that has brought him this far however, only a fool would bet against him going further.