A week before the drama of transfer deadline day, Matt Jarvis completed a £10.75million move to West Ham. At the end of last season, the winger had missed out on the Euros after making his international debut just six weeks before and impressing in a relegated Wolves side. But after a late switch to East London, thoughts have again returned to the Premiership and the national side.
Something that’s exciting the 26-year-old is the potential partnership with on-loan striker Andy Carroll. The two were brought in to change the attacking fortunes of the club and both are desperate for a place in Roy Hodgson’s side. The big money spent by the club is an intention of their ambitions and this is a refreshing change for a player who has always had to be competing at the wrong end of the top division. He made an instant impact, scoring on his first start in just three minutes against QPR. “I enjoyed my five-and-a-half years at Wolves, it was fantastic, and I owe the fans and the management a lot for making me who I am. I hope they do well but it’s time to move on.”
Transfer talk dominated the papers but when the bid was finally accepted, Jarvis used his trademark pace to get down to London and complete the move. “It was all in the papers leading up to it, but I hadn’t heard what was going on until the bids first got rejected. There was nothing official until about six in the evening. Then it was a case of grabbing loads of stuff and getting down to London as quickly as possible.
“It’s horrible not knowing what’s going on and not being in control is the hard part. But when the call came through that it had been accepted, I got what I could and went to a hotel. I was away from the family as well so it was tough and it all happened in such a short space of time. It is just a case of up and go and you just have to think about everything later. It’s hard but at the end of the day, it was my job and it was what I wanted to do so I just got on with it.
“It’s an easy decision to make playing in the Premier League, especially for a team like West Ham. Since I’ve been there and seen what everyone is about and what they want to do as a club, it’s made the decision very very easy.”
the pressure’s on
Big And was the other expensive new arrival at Upton Park and with Jarvis’ ability down the flanks to compliment the aerial threat of the on-loan Liverpool striker, it’s surely just a matter of time before the goals start to rain in.
“It was a fantastic signing for West Ham and a great bonus for me to play with a player like him. Due to a couple of knocks, we haven’t had the chance to play together yet but hopefully we will be able to play quite a few games and get a good combination going. I think we could definitely help each other out with our styles of play and he obviously wants to keep his place in the England team. So let’s see what happens.”
On 29 March 2011, Matt came on for Jack Wilshere at Wembley for his first international cap. After making several squads under Capello, he hopes he can impress Roy Hodgson a
nd make an impact in the lead-up to the World Cup in Rio. Both Carroll and Jarvis face some tough competition. “Unfortunately for me there are quite a few young wingers that are in my way of the England team. You have Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Young, Adam Johnson, Stewart Downing and Chamberlain – all top players, so I need to be playing well. I mean, thinking about me and Andy Carroll at West Ham, we both want to be in the squad and could work together to do that. It will be great for the club and then hopefully, the country.
“Short term, I want to be playing well for West Ham and putting in good performances. Long term, I want to get back in the England squad and play in a competition. To play in Rio would be ideal, anything like that would be fantastic. It’s definitely the case that once you get a taste of it, you want more and I just have to play well for West Ham before I can start thinking about that again. I would love the chance to get back in there.”
changing his life
A lot of players in London can be dragged in by the bright lights of the West End clubs or shopping in Mayfair but with Jarvis, there’s no air of arrogance or a flash car. What fans may forget when these late deals go through is that whilst the player’s signing the contract and meeting his new teammates, someone has to sell the house, find a new one and go through the arduous task of changing his life.
For Matt, it was his wife of 16 months, Sarah, who was left with this task. The two got married last year in Mauritius and it’s his long-term relationship that’s responsible for keeping him on his feet. “She’s helped to keep me grounded and has been amazing during the move. A lot of the stuff was pushed onto her to deal with. I owe her a lot for letting me stick to the football – I’ve been looking at lots of nice restaurants to take her to and asking the boys where is best to go.”
Settling in has been easy for Jarvis, and the players in the squad have been very welcoming, although he managed to dodge the bullet with any embarrassing initiation. “The team is great at the moment, the lads have been very welcoming. Kevin Nolan is a big presence and players like Mark Noble, who is a big player in the dressing room. I’m sure it’s like it in every dressing room but those two are real jokers. I haven’t had to do anything embarrassing at West Ham – I don’t think it can happen now so I’ve dodged that one as I came in late.”
Still, Matt has a good sense of humour. “I’ve always been a fan of Lee Evans and I like Kevin Bridges. When I was at Wolves and we had our Christmas do in Glasgow, Kevin came down because he’s mates with Steven Fletcher. They both like a night out so it was very entertaining. There are loads of things like people taping each others’ jeans and boots to the ceiling or hiding clothes when they go to the shower that’s all pretty standard. Shoe laces get cut or tied together, that sort of thing. One person once emptied an entire box of cut grass into the back of another player’s convertible. I’d go mad!”
Under Mick McCarthy at Wolves, Matt saw the positive and the angry side of a top manager – and it’ll be no different with Sam Allardyce. Although it is too early to ask about Big Sam’s dynamic side, there are already similarities between the two. “He is similar to Mick McCarthy in the way that his presence is felt by everyone at the club. But he [Allardyce] is also very aware tactically – there are lots of analysts and staff members to cover every angle of that. Concentrating on the tactical side of the game is a big part of life at West Ham. I haven’t seen his angry side yet and hopefully it’ll stay that way.”
West Ham won their Premier League place through the play-offs. But looking over their shoulders for the season is something that Matt and the team can not fear. “First and foremost you need to stay in the division and looking at the squad, we are more than capable of doing that and pushing on getting into the mid-table sides realistically. Around the top and the bottom, it’s going to be one of the most competitive leagues there’s ever been, and I hope that I can use my strengths to make a difference. For me, pace is a big strength. Crossing with both feet, being able to beat a fullback and deliver crosses is my game. I want to try and get amongst the goals again after scoring the eight last season.”
Something that Matt hopes will make that extra difference to the East London side’s campaign will be the home crowd. “As an opposing player, Upton Park was always one of the places with an intimidating atmosphere. The crowd are incredible. They are so close to the pitch and really get into the other team. It will be great to have them on my side.”