Posted by News Express | 15 January 2014 | 6,171 times
One of Nigeria’s football greats of yore, ‘Mathematical’ Segun Odegbami, was yesterday exposed as a double-tongued analyst of the game by compatriot Olatunji John Shittu, international football agent and manager of in-form international midfield star, John Obi Mikel.
Shittu literally tore Odegbami into shreds, calling into question his knowledge of the modern game. He could hardly mask his anger and disappointment while responding to Odegbami’s vitriolic verdict on Mikel, who is currently on top of his game both in the Nigerian senior national team, the Super Eagles, and English Premiership title contenders Chelsea.
Odegbami had touched the tiger’s tail when in an article on last Thursday’s GLO-CAF Award, he dismissed Mikel as a lukewarm player and lambasted Nigerians for allegedly being sentimental in expecting Mikel to win the award rather than Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast.
Hear Shittu: “This same Odegbami, who claimed he can’t recall a decisive pass, a great dribble or moment of magic since watching Mikel, said on April 12, 2012 after watching Mikel: ‘As a footballer, I am envious of watching Mikel Obi playing football at the highest level and I believe Nigerians are motivated watching him play for one of the best clubs in the world and in the most followed football tournament, the UEFA Champions League. The young lad was all over the place, closing all the gaps alongside his teammates and frustrating Barcelona from translating domination into goals all through the semi-final tie. This exploit no doubt is an inspiration to the youths who hope one day to play at the top level as well.’
“So, what has changed between April 2012 when he paid glowing tribute to Mikel for being outstanding against some of the world’s best like Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and other greats and now? That is his style. Today he is shouting hosanna, tomorrow he will be shouting crucify him.”
On Odegbami’s claim that when Mikel is not featured in the Chelsea team he is rarely missed and when features he is not expected to do anything, as untrue, Shittu wrote:
“This man needs to be told that football has evolved from the days of a defender sending a long pass to the winger who then runs like a rabbit and crosses into the 18-yard box. Football today has gone hi-tech, computerized and scientific. He does not understand the modern game.”
Shittu reminded Odegbami of how two of the greatest football managers in the world – Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho – fiercely fought for Mikel’s signature. He then went on to educate Odegbami thus:
“Since Mikel joined Chelsea, he has played for some of the best managers in the world like Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto di Matteo, Rafael Benitez and all of them acknowledged his importance on the team.
“Football in Europe is not played with sentiments; all players on the pitch are making important contributions.”
In case Odegbami didn’t know, Shittu told him that Mourinho called Mikel a jewel and pure diamond when he met the young boy about a decade ago and that today Mourinho has nothing but praises for Mikel, describing him as Chelsea’s anchorman who reads the game well, plays in an intelligent and safe way.
Shittu also faulted the former Green Eagles captain’s claim that Mikel has made 400 appearances for Chelsea, even as he set the record straight on his other claims. Shittu’s words:
“This is not true. To say Chelsea recruited a player whom they expected to be inconsequential in the team is an insult on the intelligence of Piet de Visser, who brought Romario and Ronaldo to Europe; who first recommended Mikel and other greats, and has acknowledged and continues to acknowledge his contributions to Chelsea.
“Even Mikel’s worst critics recognize his great contributions to the Eagles’ success at the Nations Cup. It is either Odegbami did not watch the Nations Cup or something else. How many goals did Fabio Cannavaro score when he won the Ballon d’or?”
Shittu also posits that Odegbami was not correct in his comparison of Mikel and Toure.
“I am highly disappointed that someone of Odegbami’s status, who ought to know that when comparing individual players, you have to look at how effective they are in the role their managers assigned them, chose to ignore this fact for reasons best known to him. Judging the two players from the angle of roles they play for respective clubs and countries, Toure was not better than Mikel in 2012/13. As a disciplined defensive midfielder, Mikel is probably number one in the world today.
“How can Odegbami claim that a player who has played over 300 games in the last eight seasons under seven different managers is inconsistent? I don’t think he understands modern football and modern players. Mikel is a defensive midfielder who plays to his managers’ instructions; he is not given a free role like Toure. He is the engine room of Chelsea anytime he is on the field, he is not given a box to box role, or an offensive role, so trying to compare his goals rate with that of an offensive player is just plain mischief.
“Besides, how effective was Toure at Barcelona where he didn’t have a free role, or the other clubs he had played before Barca? How many goals did he score at Barca and the other clubs before he came to England? Toure has just played under two managers. Would he have maintained his present form under seven managers like Mikel? I don’t think so.”
•Photo shows Segun Odegbami.
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