If John Obi Mikel grows up (in Chelsea) the way I predict, we have found gold-Jose Mourinho, 2006
The Changing Lanes of Mikel and Fabregas
By Adeola Aderounmu
Mikel Obi and Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea Football Club can make history together if they become champions of the English Premier League this year 2015. This can happen already on Sunday the 3rd of May if Chelsea defeats Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
Such a feat will cap 2 seasons of reform and planning instituted at Chelsea by the special one Jose Mourinho. The little horse that crawled in 2014 is now grown and running.
In the 34th game of the season played on Wednesday 29th away at Leicester, Mikel Obi came on as a late substitute for Cesc Fabregas. I looked at the two of them and l saw how great football can be.
By great, l mean in the sense of history, purpose, achievements and different perspectives of looking at life.
Fabregas has always been a libero/playmaker since his days as a Spanish national U-17 footballer. His ascendance into the football hall of fame was not an accident. His tutelage in Barcelona and development in Arsenal played remarkable roles in forming him into one of football’s brightest minds.
When Febregas and Matic arrived at Chelsea as Jose Mourinho started his second term at the Bridge, Mikel became an irregular player.
Mikel himself arrived at Chelsea at the age of 19 under controversial circumstances that saw FIFA intervened in the Manchester United and Chelsea fight for a young player whom Mourinho described as gold in 2006.
Mikel’s exemplary humility as a Chelsea player has often been overlooked but his contributions though quiet, are immense. Even this season Mourinho still praise the player he converted from a natural attacking role to a defensive midfielder.
By converting Mikel from an attacking player to a defensive player and then departing Chelsea in the middle of it, many critics still think that Mourinho did not allow Mikel to reach his potentials.
In my opinion Mikel will remain a utility player and that makes him a good player. A good footballer must be versatile and formable. Some players never made it far because they are unable to adjust to situations and the need of the clubs.
Mikel has played more than 300 games for Chelsea and l don’t think he is ever going to complain about the number of games he played since the arrival of Fabregas and Matic.
Rather he had stood up every time he is called upon. He has never pretended to be a Fabregas or a Matic. Like a giant he rises up when called upon and holds his place and style of play on the field.
According to Swedish commentators, when Mikel is introduced by Jose Mourinho, it means that the shop is closed. Mikel’s style of play is very effective in holding possession and when necessary has been a part of the Chelsea’s bus parking mode.
In Chelsea’s shirt Mikel has won many trophies. The greatest of them is Champions League Cup. At the Nigerian national team level-where many critics believe that Mikel hasn’t given his best-his moment came when he led the Nigerian midfield to win the African cup of Nations’ trophy in 2013.
Under Stephen Keshi and with a team that also included Chelsea’s team mate Victor Moses and the sublime Sunday Mba, Mikel’s performance in the midfield in 2013 was the highlight of his time wearing the colours of Nigeria. Against Ivory Coast in the semi-final, he literarily pocketed Yaya Toure to gain command of the field.
In his career, Fabregas has won several individual awards. With Spain he has won the European Championship a couple of times and the World cup in South Africa 2010. the playmaker is however still hunting for a Champions’ League Cup glory.
Both Fabregas and Mikel have come to represent further examples of young players who went on to develop their games (even if it is to varying degrees) and shown that football is a progressive sport.
We will never know what Mikel’s career would have been like as an attacking midfielder. We will make do with hypotheses and theories.
From being very young players, both Fabregas and and Mikel’s paths finally crossed each other at the club level when Fabregas signed for Chelsea and formed part of the entourage that came with the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge.
On Sunday the 3rd of May, both players can make history together at Stamford Bridge if they lift the EPL cup together. They have the Crystal Palace hurdle to surmount. Fabregas may be with Matic on the starting line up while Mikel may start from the bench.
Unless I had forgotten Chelsea appeared not to have lost any premier league game at the Bridge under Mourinho. Last season l remembered that they rescued a point against West Brom in the last minute of the game.
If Chelsea fails on Sunday, it won’t matter so much. Picking 2 or 3 points from 3 outstanding games must not be an impossible task for a team that started the season at the top of the table and has kept it calm for 35 weeks.
It is almost improbable and unthinkable that Chelsea will need the favour of another team to defeat Arsenal which is the only team still capable of catching up with Chelsea at the top.
Some questions and issues of pride may arise at the end of the season or remain untouched under pretense. How England allowed his greatest defender to quit the national team under an avoidable situation will remain debatable. John Terry may even get a new contract at Chelsea beyond this season. He may also decide to retire on a high note.
Together with Ivanovic and Cahill, Terry remains the focal point of the gang that has formed the proverbial parked bus in front of Chelsea’s goal line. One Swedish commentator added that it is like the Chelsea defenders are born to block shots!
With active legs like those of Ramires, Matic, Azpilcueta and in form Willian, Chelsea may run home with the title this weekend.
After all the blocking and hopefully some goals that will get Chelsea the victory on Sunday, and when the deeds are done, they may still need Mikel Obi to close the shop for the 2015 season.
If John Obi Mikel grows up (in Chelsea) the way I predict, we have found gold-Jose Mourinho said in 2006.
Has Mikel developed the way Mourinho wanted him to?
No doubt, Fabregas will be there to open the 2016 season. What about the shop closer, the former golden boy of the FIFA 2005 World Youth Champinoship-John Mikel Obi?