On Monday while playing for Nigeria against Iran at the World Cup, John Obi Mikel got a taste of his own medicine.
The 27-year-old was deployed in a No. 10 role by coach Stephen Keshi and was expected to be in charge of pulling the strings from the midfield.
Mikel tried his best to dictate play and passed the ball around well, but overall his pace was too slow and his creativity mediocre as the encounter ended in a goalless draw. It was hardly a classic game of football, with both teams struggling for fluency.
Iran made it tough for the African giants and played defensive football, something that Mikel has now lamented.
‘We looked for the win, but Iran knew what we wanted to do and put 11 men behind the ball’, Goal.com quotes him as saying. ‘They managed to stop us from playing our game’.
At Chelsea, Mikel is deployed largely as a defensive midfielder and has often been used by Blues manager Jose Mourinho as someone who will stop opposition’s attacks.
Followers of the Premier League would remember how the London outfit did everything possible to stop Liverpool at Anfield last season. And Mikel was one of the players who was responsible for doing that.
Under Mourinho, Chelsea have often been defensive and have tried to play on the counter. Many football followers have criticised them for this ‘negative approach’, but more often than not it has been effective.
And on Monday, it was Iran who did to Mikel and Nigeria what Chelsea do to opposition teams. The former Lyn player may moan as much as he wants to, but, as they say, what goes around comes around.
Perhaps, next time when opposition teams complain about Chelsea’s negative and defensive approach to football matches, Mikel will sympathise with them.