The dealings of the John Obi Mikel case have been well documented and are murky at best, but the central midfielder’s lack of progression in his four seasons in West London makes the £12m Man Utd seem inflated at best as the years roll by.
The Nigerian is still only 22 years of age and has time on his side, but the role he plays out in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield it has to be said is being played poorly and inefficiently. Mikel is a player of imposing physicality but this often is rendered useless by his complete lack of movement and ponderous play when he’s in possession.
Pace is not his strongest asset and his ability to go missing in big games is a cause for concern, especially considering the importance of his position, for everyone will know, the one place you cannot afford a passenger is at the hub of the team in centre midfield.
His range of passing can be exceptional at times, especially his short passing game, something the Chelsea management have seen in the player in the hope that he can go onto emulate given time, Claude Makelele, a player who built his career upon short passes and good positional play along with a biting tackle. But more often than not, this side of his game isn’t given time to influence a match enough because he can be anonymous.
It’s not as if Mikel hasn’t been given enough playing time either and by now he should have progressed a lot more. Last term he played in the lion’s share of Chelsea games, 55 in total and little has changed. His discipline can also be called into question after he’s earned four red cards in his time in England and the rate of which he needlessly fouls opposing players is just plain silly and does nothing but heap pressure on his teammates.
Cast your eye over to Old Trafford and you’d have Carrick and Fletcher over Mikel certainly, Anderson and Scholes probably and a fit Hargreaves every time – Fergie hasn’t dodged a bullet as such, for Mikel is still a player of potential but it’s time he delivered on it with some consistent and more importantly dominant performances. The £16m Chelsea paid to both Man Utd and Lyn Oslo looks a gross misuse of the funds and the patience of the fans will not abide inept application forever.
You’re not coveted by some of Europe’s top clubs unless you have some outstanding potential which Mikel, on a limited number of occasions thus far has shown, but his performances are somewhat pointless at times. The role of holding man is an often unnoticed one; it’s a position that requires a lot of the less glamorous aspects of the game such as man marking, maintaining your positional discipline and just the basic job of keeping things ticking over when in possession, but it’s a necessary one in the modern game and can leave a lot to be desired on the eye, but even in these basic principles, Mikel seems to be lacking even the most basic of understanding.
His ascension to the starting eleven is as a direct replacement for the often injured Michael Essien, and were the Ghanaian fit, Mikel would struggle to hold down a spot a lot more. Also, whilst goal scoring is not a pivotal part of a holding man’s game, he’s yet to trouble the scorer’s for three seasons’ now. It is hard to pinpoint Mikel’s prolonged status as a Chelsea regular, and as the title of this article suggests, it may be the easiest £12m Utd and indeed Fergie, have ever made.
Written By James McManus