It is 5:32 in the morning and I can't sleep. My wisdom tooth has me tossing and turning in my bed, and I'm positive I will have a crap day at classes later. Nevertheless, I love you guys, and I love football. This blog-post is a special request via- Ayyam, who wanted me to bring up what's been bugging me for the past 3 years. John Obi Mikel.
Mikel John Obi, was born in...........Lol! This sounds way too much like an introduction to an essay. I'm just going to get to the point.
Long before Nigerian sensation, Austin Okocha (or better known as Jay Jay's) departure, Nigeria were already looking for a upcoming worthy successor who could fill the void of J.J. Then their prayers were answered as Mikel came into the scene. After a display at the 2003 Fifa Under 17 World Cup final in Finland, many Nigerians were saying, "we have found the new J.J."
Mikel played for the Fifa World Youth Championships when he was 18. Nigeria had a splendid youth team. Mikel played at the top of his game, he played so good, he led Nigeria to the finals where they lost to Argentina 2-1.
|The little tike...|
That's him, at the age of 18...Anything look strange on Mikel? I'll give you time....
You see the number on his jersey? It's number 10...You know what that means right?
MIKEL WAS A PLAYMAKER!
Which brings me to my point, in that youth competition, Mikel was ranked second best player of that competition, only behind...Guess who?
|Funny comparing him to Mikel now right?|
If you guessed Messi, you were right and I'm sending a hi-5 over your direction.
His performance at just the age of 17, looks like a different Mikel doesn't it?
This performance sparked interest from many clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester United. Later on in the year, when Mikel turned 18, Chelsea cheekily stole the prolific PLAYMAKER from Manchester United on deadline day. Making Sir Alex redder than his home jersey.
Mikel joined Chelsea in the midst of our success under the "Special One"'s reign. What would have been the signing of the decade, became the decline of the decade in my opinion. Jose, as stubborn as he is, insisted that he would rather play Mikel in front the back 4, changing him from an attacking midfielder to a defensive midfielder. His new role effectively stifled Mikel's attacking instincts.
Mikel never did improve under Jose Mourinho. After his sacking the same pattern continued with Mr. Grant, Mr. Scolari, Mr. Hiddink, and Mr. Ancelotti. This is where Mikel is somewhat at fault (can't blame Jose for messing up his career totally). Mikel failed to use his initiative with the change in managers to let them know of his original playing style. He seemed content where he was told to play. Nowadays, his game has become so predictable, he's become second rate at Chelsea.
He has failed to make an impact on the current Nigerian team who is under new management. Rumors are they have given up on Mikel in attacking midfield and are looking for someone else. Former Nigerian manager had this to say about Mikel:
"Mikel is not the same player that I knew in 2005 when we finished second behind Argentina in the U-20 World Cup. He has lost the creativity that catapulted him to the world stage six years ago. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that he is no longer a good player. But what I am saying is that there is a need to see Mikel get to the goal area of the opponents and shoot more"
While Mikel does have some good games as CDM, the shadows of him possibly being as good as Messi still dawn on me. With a little guidance and belief, we could've had one of the best. Now that we are going through a new era at Chelsea (evidently) under AvB, Mikel has struggled to take a firm grasp on the first team shirt.
Mikel is 24 now, and still has many years ahead of him until he departs from football. It needs to start with Mikel and his need to achieve self-actualization. He needs to know what position is best for him, and how he should assert himself onto AvB. The next step to resurgence is for the managers to know what kind of potential they have in Mikel and try and remold him. He's still young and has a lot to learn.
Thanks for reading.
Peace, love and respect