Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi has largely been a peripheral figure for Chelsea this season but could he be the missing piece in Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United puzzle? Read below.
Paul Pogba. That, right there, is the one compelling reason why Manchester United needs to end John Mikel Obi’s ongoing misery at Chelsea.
Less than two weeks ago, I tweeted that the Red Devils look so much better with Michael Carrick in the side that it’s a wonder they haven’t snapped up the Nigeria captain.
Many sniggered. But the reason is obvious: balance.
For all the superstars they’ve crammed into their ranks, United look a very unbalanced side. Pogba, the one man who could help start the team into some creativity, is stifled by lack of protection around and about him, and being unable to operate in the advanced areas where he can flourish.
Usually, the 23-year-old wants to be in advanced areas and particularly the left-centre channel or penalty area. That means playing in a midfield three, with a stable, holding influence cleaning up behind him. When Carrick has played, Pogba has excelled.
With Fellaini alongside him, Pogba can gallop forward, but doing so leaves the Belgian alone to hold the reins in the centre of the park. If ever any situation defined the phrase ‘recipe for disaster’ …
Against weaker teams that might even pass muster (but not all the time). To contemplate the full extent of the trainwreck that situation can be, just go back and watch how Manchester City flooded that zone with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Chelsea threw in Eden Hazard, Pedro and Matic. On both occasions, the results were a predictably unpleasant mess.
Pogba’s strengths lies in picking up the ball in and around the midfield third, then driving into dangerous attacking positions like he did at Juventus.
Paul PogbaWhen Carrick has played, especially sans Rooney in the side, Pogba has thrived, for the simple reason that he has a stable, intelligent, ball-playing anchor behind him and plenty of (Rooney-uncluttered) real estate ahead of him to maraud into.
But Carrick is 35 and can barely cobble three games together without his creaking bones picking up one niggle or another. Mikel, on the other hand, still has a few good years left in his legs, provides similar – if not better – service than Carrick and, best of all, has little complaints about being a water-carrier.
In fact, there are few players in the world better than Mikel at doing the job of protecting the back-four while at the same time selflessly providing the platform for those ahead of him to prosper.
If United are to turn their season around, they require a player of Mikel’s talents and quality to bring balance to their team.
It is a logical move that would benefit both sides. United gets the fulcrum they so desperately need. Mikel gets to enjoy regular playing time, and could probably negotiate higher wages than he is on at Chelsea, while staying in England close to his new family.
It’s a win-win. Question is, will it happen?
Written by Colin Udoh
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