Jordan White- from Underused to Unbelievable

When Ross County’s Twitter account announced the signing of Jordan White, many eyebrows were raised. Not only were we signing a former Caley man, but he had not scored in 20 appearances for his previous club Motherwell. After his first four games for the club, the differences between Jordan White the Steelman and Jordan White the Staggie are clear- White has been nothing short of brilliant for County.

Time before the Premiership

Firstly, to contextualise how his time at Motherwell came to be, White’s career as a whole needs looked at. A Dunfermline academy graduate, he had a series of loan spells at clubs such as Clyde and Dumbarton, both in the Second Division**. At Clyde, he made 19 appearances (three off the bench) and managed four goals (09-10 season). White had a two month loan spell at Dumbarton in the 10-11 season, playing seven times (albeit six off the bench) and unfortunately scoring no goals. 

In July of 2011, the big striker secured his first permanent transfer, moving to Drogheda United who were plying their trade in the Premier League of Ireland****. He only spent six months with ‘the Drogs’, but he played 13 times, with five of those appearances being as a sub, and scoring one goal for the club. 

After his spell in Ireland, White swiftly made his return to Scotland by signing for Clyde (his former loan team) on a free transfer in December of 2011. At this point Clyde had dropped down to the Third Division***. He spent an outstandingly short one month with ‘The Bully Wee’, starting all six games he played for them- managing a goal and an assist.  

Jordans’ fleeting spell at Clyde ended when he was signed by Falkirk, who were in the First Division*. In his nine months at the club he was given four starts and nine appearances off the bench, but the 20 year old White didn’t register a goal contribution for ‘the Bairns’. After the start of the 12-13 season, he went on loan to Third Division Stirling Albion. This move was made permanent once the January Transfer Window was opened. 

White really started firing in Stirling, spending a year and a half with ‘the Binos’. He racked up 64 Third Division appearances, most of them starts, with two appearances off the bench. By the time he departed, he had 29 goals and 9 assists, and that’s not even in all competitions. This brilliant form saw White earn a move to Livingston, who at the time were in the Scottish Championship. At Livi he made 88 appearances, scoring 31 times and bagging 13 assists.

From this point, White remained relatively prolific at clubs such as Wrexham, Barrow, and bitter rivals Inverness, so what went wrong at Motherwell? 

*Now known as the Scottish Championship

**Now known as Scottish League One

***Now known as Scottish League Two

****Now known as the League of Ireland Premier Division

Spell with the ‘Well

Motherwell signed Jordan White on the end of his Inverness Caledonian Thistle contract in July 2020. Despite his relatively consistent scoring touch since his Stirling spell, he was largely limited to substitute appearances due to the preference of ex-Motherwell gaffer Stephen Robinson to play the likes of Chris Long and more recently Devante Cole. 

The reason for him struggling in his substitute appearances was that the outcome of the games were largely decided by the time he was thrown on. A tired centre back might be relieved to see a more pace oriented player come off to be replaced by a target man. Another reason is that subs have less of a plan for them than consistent starters, especially the simplistic use of tall strikers. Motherwell’s plan for White seemed as simple as lumping the ball up for him to knock it down to run the clock down, which really sells his ability short. As seen particularly against Hamilton and Celtic, he has a great ability to shake defenders up with his movement and consistently get into scoring positions.

At Motherwell though, through no fault of his own, there didn’t seem to be a plan for him, and it seems he was simply used as a tool to head the ball back to the midfield and wingers, rather than someone who was closely looked at to determine how to get the best out of him. He had only 510 minutes under when he left the Steelmen, despite 19 appearances. Very little time to impose yourself on the top flight.

Come January, enter John Hughes and Ross County.

Dingwall Delight

Picking up from the start of the article, when White signed, many Staggies fans initially doubted him, whether it was because of his previous association with Caley or his Motherwell record. We were proven very wrong. In interviews after his signing, it was very clear John Hughes had a clear plan for what he wanted White to do, and trusted him to do that job. When he made his debut off the bench against Hamilton, with the Staggies needing two late goals, it was clear the new County man knew exactly what his job was. He ran the Hamilton defence ragged, and showed his tenacity in that he had his back to the net when he scored his first goal. To make a goal out of what was a scuffed shot from Jason Naismith showed his ability to improvise, something it’s clear that he never had the chance to do at Motherwell. 

To assist Billy McKay’s winner in the same game, he showed surprising pace to bomb down the line and put a cross into the penalty area, which was something Ross County had been missing for the entire match. White was clearly ready to make that run the entire time he was on the park, which further shows the precise instructions and plan he’d been given by the County manager. 

His best game so far in a Staggies shirt came against the formidable Celtic. He was largely left up front to wait for the ball to come to him while the rest of the County team rolled their sleeves up and defended doggedly. When Celtic had the ball in their own half, he marked Kristoffer Ajer in order to nullify Celtic’s play on that side of the pitch, which further shows that Hughes has an exact idea how to utilise his players, and in turn trusts these players to carry out their jobs. It’s clear White has thrived off this- he never stopped running against Celtic and when he had the chance to score via a Harry Paton free kick, he buried it with confidence. Jordan White was man of the match that night, and the trust in him has proven what a player he is.

Yesterday, White was deservedly voted Ross County Player of the Month. Hopefully under John Hughes, he can be one of the key figures that leads the Staggies to Premiership survival.

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