Chelsea: John Obi Mikel – More sinned against than sinning

For the many who are conversant with the Premier League, you might have heard or seen him before.

But as for us Chelsea fans, we know him as a Pastor who knows his Bible simply because he was the part of the contingent that won us the UEFA Champions League last season. He didn’t play a minor role, but a vital one in the matches against the two giants – Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Mikel Obi came to Chelsea amid controversies. After being voted the second best player after Messi in the Under-20 World Cup in 2005, Manchester United, who has little history of signing black players was at logger heads with Chelsea, which was then being handled by the “Special One” Jose Mourinho. In order not to waste much time, I won’t delve into the main issue that surrounded the signing of Mikel but after the involvement of FIFA, Chelsea won the right of signing him.

Let us go a little down the memory lane. Mikel played at the Under-20  World Cup hosted by Holland as an attacking midfielder. It was in this position that he shown himself as a rising star. He was naturally an attacking midfielder but Mourinho converted him to a defensive midfielder in order to play the position that Makelele excelled in, after he left the club.

I think as a defensive midfielder, these requirements are much needed: Composure, Teamwork, Stamina, Determination, Tackling, Pass Accuracy, Vision and Technique. But this area of the field requires much more physical ability than the mental, and this resulted in Mikel sacrificing much of his creative techniques for the acquisition of the physical ones.

It is indeed a huge sacrifice to see someone who plays in the same position like Fabregas, Iniesta, Ozil etc thrown to the lower region of the field, playing very close with the defenders.

Okay, let me tell you this, as a defensive midfielder, you have to have much of what the defenders have and blend it with the requirements of the midfield. Furthermore, playing as a defensive midfielder as like combining two roles together, this can be seen from the etymological analysis of that compound word: Defensive-Midfielder.

Mikel has always been a subject of criticism among Chelsea fans for his low goal scoring record ever since he signed for the club six years ago. He once said in an interview that he is happy when he see others scoring, he does not have to be the one to score. Sincerely speaking, we fans always want to praise those players who shook the opposition’s net with goals, forgetting the one who created or started the passes that lead to it.

For every goal, there is a beginning of the pass that leads to it. History has it that Mikel has initiated most of Chelsea goals, most recently the second goal scored by Oscar during the match against Juventus. He initiated the play that lead to it, but pundits will never consider that. What if he had decided to play a directionless shot towards the keeper? Well, he didn’t and instead passed the ball which led to that stunning Oscar goal.

What actually prompted me to writing this article is not to say Mikel is a perfect player who does not make mistakes, he is a man like you and I, so mistakes are bound to happen. But each time this guy makes a mistake, we tend to over emphasise it, forgetting those good things he has done for Chelsea. We all want our club to always win every match no matter what, and we pour avalanche of accolades on those players who scored.

Have we ever considered those tackles that lead to dispossession of ball from the opponents that this guy has made? Record has it that during the match against Juventus, Chelsea made 29 tackles and Mikel made most of them. All these could have lead to goals, but we fans don’t give any such consideration.

Now, let us consider the match against Juventus which saw Chelsea, having been leading in the first half, draw at the end. Mikel was said to have caused the second goal, all the football websites, especially, cast the blame of the second goal on him. In fact, rated him as the flop of the match.

When I saw this, I was sad and I began to question the rating yardstick of this website. Mikel was the only defensive midfielder against the midfielders studded Juventus side. Juventus paraded five midfielders in their formation against three of Chelsea’s.

The moment I realized this, I told a friend of mine that Mikel will work tonight and people will never appreciate him, as if I had known. Lampard, who is always attacking, left Mikel with a great task of blocking the ever offensive Juventus midfielders.

The pass that actually lead to the second goal was a ball Mikel dispossessed from a Juventus player. He laid the ball on the run for Hazard to catch up, but Hazard, who has been choked by the ever-ready Chiellini, seemed to have lost much strength and could not make any run for it.

Immediately after the match, Mikel apologised saying “If I want to make an excuse, I can, but for me, I gave the ball away. I put my hands up, we move. I am sorry about the mistake but there are no excuses”.

Some hours after this, it was learnt that Mikel has deleted his Twitter account because some fans were racially abusing him as if he was the only person that made mistake that night. David Luiz, John Terry, Ivanovic, and Ramires made more mistakes than Mikel on that night but it was the one Mikel was involved in that made the headlines.

As a faithful fan of Chelsea, if Mikel should leave Chelsea, good clubs will opt for him and then we will appreciate him because as human beings we tend not to appreciate what we have until we lose it.


Written by Debo Popoola

Follow him on Twitter @Popsondebor

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  1. Frank

    September 21, 2012 at 23:32

    Now al d fans r puting al d blame on mikel bt if i may ask what was lampard nd torres doing on d pitch dat nite?

  2. dimmi

    September 21, 2012 at 23:42

    nothing is wrong with a mistake but mikel has not been playing up to standards this season

  3. chibuzor

    September 22, 2012 at 01:38

    Some fans will never appreciate whatever Mikel is doing at all.but have we ever asked ourselves why is it that every manager will always work with him? let RDM drop him for 3 games and we will see what he is really doing in that mid-field.

    • jabez walker

      September 22, 2012 at 06:01

      ah if RDM drops him for 3 three games we will do so well ……wateva you do mikel is shit

  4. Steve

    September 22, 2012 at 03:43

    Some ppl cal dr salf fan of cfc bt de re nt. Hw can sombody dat wacth dat game wil come out & say mikle is d flop of dat game. 4 god sake we it 4r begin 2 end.hw many tims ramirs make worg bass,hw many 4r lanpad 2 maition bt few, dat mikle was d one 2 cove it up 4 dem.

  5. kelvin

    September 22, 2012 at 03:59

    Thanks for this article. But some fools will never agree with u despite pointing out the good things that mikel did in dat game. Wen terry made his mistake against arsenal notin happened. Like it or not mikel is d best in dat role. Bench him for just 3 games n u will c more errors from the other players.

  6. Godknows

    September 22, 2012 at 04:21

    I wil always b ur fan Mikel nomater wat, cary on my guy.

  7. Versamuyi

    September 22, 2012 at 06:16

    I do complain about Mikel atimes especially because i think he’s average at tackles but something about mikel’s presence which is always missing when he is not on the pitch(composure). Overall Mikel is a fine player. He has always been the best guy in our midfield especially on days our midfielders go to sleep. Put him on the bench then you will beg for him to be used.

  8. Versamuyi

    September 22, 2012 at 06:22

    I need to say that Terry was more responsible for that second goal than Mikel. After Mikel gave the ball away, Terry was marking the guy who scored the goal but decided to leave him all in the name of setting an offside trap which he eventually got wrong. That decision by Terry was the major cause of the goal.

  9. anonymous

    September 22, 2012 at 06:51

    Well mikel need to improve his game, and I can’t understand why Rdm keep combining lampard and mikel it doesn’t work at all. Lampard is behind all this problem that mikel is causing. He`s not helping matters actually.

  10. luke

    September 22, 2012 at 07:52

    for sure John Terry is also to blame for that goal,he played the striker on and then started running away expecting an off-side trap,he is also playing below par,the problem people just love him and feel sorry for him for his controversies but he must be rested and make way for others fast

  11. Blezkidd

    September 22, 2012 at 07:55

    It pains me to see how those fools that called themselves white are thinking..racially abusing mikel is totally wrong..torres,lampard,ivanovic,ramires has been our worst players this season,but they don’t get critisize..just a mistake from mikel is causing all this shit..but countles mistakes from JT,LAMPARD,LUIZ,TORRES is keep in the dark by those white fools…bench mikel and lets see if chelsea wil recieve 10goals in each game..white animals

  12. Kallex

    September 22, 2012 at 08:29

    Any death dat wants 2 kill mikel should first distroy lampard

  13. onah kosi

    September 22, 2012 at 11:29

    Well written…I feel like crying..mikel would have been up there with sniedjer,Ozil,fabregas,iniesta e.t.c in terms of recognition(perhaps even retained his second best 2 messi status) if not that he sacrificed his original style of play 4 the chelsea team…Even still he is d bedrock of the team always maintaining his position doing d all important dirty work.Ask yourselves why every manager uses him….for me,d much publicised error was actually a well played pass which Hazard couldn’t connect with.I feel sorry 4 Mikel’s psychology as d fans he cherishes n puts in extra 4,have turned against him..even racially