Gabriel Obertan – Manchester United’s most divisive player? Either you view him as one for the future or an all too prevalent present nuisance. The young Frenchman’s contributions thus far have shown that he has little else to offer beyond his pace. His first touch is poor, he does not take up good positions and his passes often go astray.
Obertan joined Manchester United back in the summer of 2009 from Bordeaux. He has only ever featured sporadically in the United teamsheet and has become accustomed to coming off the bench towards the end of the game.
At this point it’s likely that Obertan’s defenders will be keen to point out that he’s just 21-years-old. This is true, but do United have space in their squad for a player at this stage in his development?
Obertan has represented his country at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-21 level. He has yet to make the step up to the senior squad and despite the current state of French football, seems some distance away from doing so.
At least the young winger knows he is still some distance away from making a lasting impact at Old Trafford. He recently told the Press: “It is frustrating sometimes on the bench, but I know I am improving. I would not swap places for anything in the world.”
Frustrating, no doubt, but if he doesn’t start impressing, he’ll have to make do with the limited game-time he’s currently getting at Old Trafford.
United may be in the driving seat this season in terms of the Premier League, but if they want to be Champions then they will have to start performing week in and week out. The first team to find consistency in the League this season will be the team who eventually wins it. Gabriel Obertan is an obstacle to United finding this consistency.
In United’s recent game against West Brom (a tetchy 2-1 victory), Obertan featured and was more of a hindrance than he was a help. His decision-making was consistently poor . He has an unfortunate habit of dawdling on the ball and the timing of his crosses was way off. As a result a number of possible goal-scoring opportunities went missing.
Despite my concerns, there may be a comparison to be drawn between Obertan and the Anderson from a season or two ago. I was more than happy to tell anybody I would meet that Anderson lacked the requisite quality to make it at Old Trafford and that Ferguson would do well to move him on as quickly as possible,
I shouldn’t have been so hasty in my judgment. As a player Anderson has come on leaps and bounds and is starting to assert himself as an important player in United’s midfield. With time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obertan went on to do exactly the same thing.
We can’t expect Obertan to go from chump to champ overnight. He needs a regular run of games before we can start to determine whether he has a future with the club. If he gains the fans’ and manager’s confidence alike who knows what he’s capable of.
With this in mind if United can maintain their title challenge and offer Obertan games to help his development, then we ought to give the young lad a chance.
Fight for glory in the present whilst building for the future? Maybe United can have it all.
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