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Gabriel Obertan: Our Mercurial French Enigma

Sid Saturday, March 26, 2011

This season has seen its ups and downs for the team, but the positives easily outnumber the negatives and of these few let downs this season, my biggest disappointment has been a certain French winger who has promised so much but failed to deliver every time, Gabriel Obertan.

Since he joined the club in July 2009, I have been probably one of his biggest supporters, insisting that with time given to settle he would come good and offer something different to the team.  One year on, my support for Obertan is starting to wane and so is my belief that he’ll actually fulfill his untapped potential.

Though he didn’t see much first team action in the beginning of this season, I was sure after Valencia’s injury he would get his chance in the first team and show his worth, but he failed to rise to occasion; something I’ve become accustomed to associating with him!

My initial excitement at his arrival was mainly down to two things, one being an ardent follower of Football Manager Games, Obertan was bit of an FM legend, going to develop into an exceptional winger in the earlier versions of the game. Also having watched innumerable videos of him on YouTube, the excitement to watch him play was huge. And I don’t think I’m the only one who was looking forward to seeing Obertan play in United colors!

We went on to see the best and worst in him, Obertan could go through the entire 90 minutes of a game without contributing anything useful, but also produce inspirational moments like he did against Wolfsburg in the Champions League last season. It was this side of Obertan that everyone wanted to see more often, a player who could glide past 3 players with ease and setup easy chances for strikers! Produce something from nothing, moments that players like Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney, etc. can create!

I’m not saying Obertan can reach their level, but his technical skill and ability on the ball is probably rare to match. I can still see him becoming one of the best wingers around, if he can just focus more during games. This lack of concentration is clearly visible during games, as he often just ends up being a spectator! The most noticeable change in Obertan is that he has clearly bulked up physically over the past year, this will help him but the lack of an end product from him is very frustrating. When on the ball, Obertan has an air of unpredictability about him, he is fully capable of outpacing most players in the Premier League, but also talented enough to just dribble past them with ease too, this makes him a very dangerous opponent for any defender.

Obertan like Nani is also a confidence player and a good run of games in the first team might help him come out of his shell, but then United can ill-afford to play Obertan every game wondering if he’ll even contribute anything to the team or not. A loan out to another premiership club might just be the best option for both United and Obertan, getting him games at the top flight and also eventually giving him the confidence needed to take his game up a notch.

Obertan is a puzzle that I think even the coaching staff at Carrington are trying to figure out, he clearly has everything with him to be a top class player, but far from it he has just been getting worse the more you watch him! Obertan probably has another 12 months on his side before Sir Alex decides that he can’t depend on him anymore and decides to sell him.

At the rate at which he’s going now, I can see him ending up like David Bellion but maybe he could turn things around and follow in the footsteps of the more illustrious Frenchmen who have proudly worn the United jersey and go on to become a fan favorite.


Zico H. said...

Wonderfully written. Inviting you to be part of the football writers team at

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