RANT OF THE DAY

RANT OF THE DAY: Why Ighalo needs to leave Watford

Confirmed reports coming out of England indicates that Watford have beaten off a host of clubs to sign M’Baye Niang from Milan on an initial six-month deal. West Ham United, Everton, Burnley and Genoa were among the clubs interested in acquiring the mercurial 22-year-old but Walter Mazzarri was able to convince him to move to Vicarage Road until the end of the season.

Reportedly, the agreement with Milan also includes an option to buy the player for £13.5m in the summer, which is optional unless he plays a certain amount of matches. If he reaches that number, then Watford will have to sign the French-born forward for the agreed fee. The player first wanted a permanent deal straight away but agreed to a temporary switch after talks on Thursday.

Walter Mazzarri’s side have also completed the signing of the Argentinian forward Mauro Zárate from Fiorentina. The 29-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal from the Serie A team, where he has scored four goals in nine starts this season.

In all of these, one is constrained to ask: what is the fate of our own Odion Ighalo if Watford are not sparing the cash in bringing in other strikers?

Admittedly, Ighalo has been below his normally impressive goal-scoring standards this term – he’s scored a miserly 2 goals in 20 appearances compared to last season when he notched 14 goals in 28 games at this stage of the season – so you will understand Watford’s decision from a business point of view.

Having been a subject of transfer speculation from Chinese clubs and a firm bid from Premier League club West Ham, Ighalo runs the risk of seeing his value drop should he continue to sit on the bench at Vicarage Road.

Football is played in the here and now so it will be remiss of Ighalo to think staying put at Watford and trying to force his way into the team will work.

If I were him or his adviser, he should put pressure on Watford to accept a bid – even if it’s a loan – from West Ham so he could go and face a fresh challenge and rediscover his form.

Ighalo is not a bad player. Not now. Not before. But like all strikers going through a goal-drought, he’s just short on confidence.

All he needs is a change of scene and you can bet he will soon be back scoring goals. I trust him. You should too.

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RANT OF THE DAY, Uncategorized

RANT OF THE DAY: Xhaka’s one day, one trouble for Arsenal

 
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is a talented player but a conflicted person, apparently on and off the pitch.

 
24 hours after he was sent off during his team’s 2-1 victory in the Premier League, the Swiss was involved in another incident, this time potentially more serious than just the small matter of missing a couple of games.

 
The Arsenal midfielder was reportedly interviewed under caution by police following an allegation he racially abused an airline staff member at Heathrow on Monday night.

 
The Switzerland international is believed to have been with a friend who had visited him in London and was returning home.

 
The friend was understood to have arrived late for his flight back to Germany and was not allowed to board and Xhaka was at this point infuriated and allegedly racially abused a member of the airline staff.

 
Arsenal have declined to comment other than to say it is a private matter that is now in the hands of the police.

 

 

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However, beyond the decision of the club not to comment on this latest infraction by the player, there are underlying currents capable of bursting to the surface at anytime if Xhaka’s issue is not decisively addressed.

 
Already there are reports of an impending showdown talks between Arsene Wenger and the player whom he had accused of punishing the team each time he gets himself into avoidable trouble on the pitch.

 
Xhaka is undoubtedly gifted. One of the better performers in his position in the Premier League so far this season. But like all gifted but troubled prodigies, the 24-year old risks throwing his talents down the drain if he doesn’t keep his temper in check.

 

 

One day, one trouble will not a great career make. Xhaka must take a very hard look in the mirror and decide if he likes the man staring back at him.

 
Will he be willing to become a truly great midfielder – which his talent suggests he can be – or will he be contented to be just another player in the midst of millions with nothing to stand him out?

 
The call is his alone to make but Arsenal must help him make the decision if he wants to stay and achieve great things at the club or if his stay could continue to hurt the team.

 
By the way, for stats freaks, Sunday’s sending off was the ninth red card shown to Xhaka in the last three years.

 

 

RANT OF THE DAY

RANT OF THE DAY: Are Manchester United too reliant on Ibrahimovic?

 

Manchester United huffed and puffed at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday before a last-gasp effort by Wayne Rooney – his record-breaking 250th to become club’s all-time leading scorer – helped saved the blushes of manager Jose Mourinho and the hordes of travelling fans who still harbour a glimmer of hope that the Red Devils could still hunt runaway leaders Chelsea down to claim the Premier League title.

 

This was a full-squad with all the regulars including leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But the performance, if not the result, laid bare a stark reality: United are gradually becoming Zlatan-dependent.

 

An off-day for the big Swede demonstrated that Manchester United may have become too reliant on the striker which means when he’s unavailable or marked out, the team will struggle.

Ibrahimovic has scored 14 league goals; Pogba and Mata are the next-highest scorers with four each.

 

With the former Barcelona frontman marked superbly by Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi, Mourinho needed one of his other forwards to seize responsibility as the game threatened to drift away from United.

 

Paul Pogba had his moments, almost equalising with a fierce volley in the first half and prising Stoke open with several driving runs and astute passes, while Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were pretty, but ineffective in the areas that mattered.

 

That lack of ruthlessness continues to harm United’s chances of Champions League qualification while Mourinho deserves criticism for an overly functional starting XI.

Stoke are vulnerable to pace but Marcus Rashford was on the bench – and Anthony Martial was left out altogether.

 

United are still mathematically in contention in four competitions and Mourinho will need to get his other players scoring if he desires to win any of the four.

 

Tactically, he could tweak the team around in such a way that it becomes less-reliant on one single player but optimizes its efficiency as a collective fighting unit.

 

Or, on the contrary, he could keep hoping that the 35-year old will keep being in pristine condition and keep scoring more and more goals to see United through to the glory days.