Obertan: the forgotten man

When Gabriel Obertan signed for Manchester United, little was known about the graduate of the prestigious Clairefontaine academy. Injury held the player back initially before a dash for the first team came last October. But generally since the player’s £3.5 million transfer from Girondins de Bordeaux at Old Trafford, little has been seen of the 21-year-old.

Turning 22 next February, it is an important time in the French under 21 international’s career. Like Federico Macheda and many others at the club, Obertan must now translate promise into reality if he is to win a long-term future at Old Trafford.

It should be the perfect time for Obertan to break into Sir Alex Ferguson’s team. The deeply unfortunate injury suffered by Ecuadorian winger Antonio Valencia against Rangers last month opened up a spot in Ferguson’s team. Fast-forward a month and there have still been no significant outings for the Frenchman save for a substitute appearance against Bursaspor this week.

After all Obertan’s competition is mixed at best. An ageing Ryan Giggs has been in and out of the United side with injuries, and even a fully fit Welshan cannot be expected to play more than a game a week.

South Korean Ji-Sung Park remains about as effective as England World Cup 2010 campaign. Park is lost, a man of whom much is expected but has proven undeniably useless when United’s need for creativity is most apparent this season. Park’s transformation from the player most-often seen in United’s crucial fixtures to desperately giving away the ball this season is stark.

Obertan is surely next in line but either Ferguson appears to have changed his mind on his acquisition, or he is biding his time and will introduce the Frenchman when he has no more cards to play.

After overcoming a back injury last season, Obertan has become a regular fixture for the reserve team. Playing either upfront or as a winger, the 21-year-old offers pace and dribbling ability. But despite featuring in the Carling Cup time against Scunthorpe United in September, he was immediately called back to play for the reserves.

Such a rapid demotion to the stiffs suggests Obertan is further away from the true first team picture than ever.

Obertan’s last memorable outing for the first team came during last season’s Champions League away trip to Wolfsburg, where he superbly set up Michael Owen to regain as United regained the lead.

The other memorable occasion for Obertan last season was an utterly appalling performance in the home FA Cup Third Round defeat to Leeds United. Obertan was not alone in performing badly but displayed all the traits that are worst in the youngster – his end product is poor, even when the winger beats a man he frequently loses the ball.

United fans can only hope that Obertan’s performance in Germany translates promise into a future reality.

Rather more ominously his former coach and former United player Laurent Blanc warned that United may fail with Obertan where others have already dared to tread.

“Manchester United have been tracking him for a long time,” said Blanc last August.

“They certainly hope to advance him, something that Bordeaux and Lorient have failed to do.”

One thing is certain, despite the inconsistencies of Obertan’s performances the winger must get a chance in the coming weeks or he will stagnate.

United’s stock of wingers remains depleted. Save for a miraculous resurgence in Park or the now infamous Bébé makes a meteoric rise in the coming weeks, it seems that Anderson and Darron Gibson may be utilised on the flanks more.

It’s not a picture that Obertan can welcome.

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  1. says

    I really like the look of Obertan – he runs so effortlessly with the ball and looks genuinely comfortable in possession. I would really like to see him in the side – I thought in his cameo who looked good against Bursasport, being keen to get past his man and then supply not just take a pot shot.

    Really believe he should get a shot.

  2. herbie simms says

    The player that can make a difference is Bebe. Put BEBE on the right wing in Valencia’s position and play Nani as a striker up front to partner Berbatov. Bebe is also a left winger and is just as good on either side. Bebe has the pace and fighting spirit that the team needs.

    • mongoletsi says

      I saw this story and knew you’d mention Bebe. All our opinion of Bebe is based on a few videos we’ve seen online.

      Give him a shot though. I think he looked good in his Scunthorpe cameo.

  3. herbie simms says

    Read the news! Rooney is staying at United. He just signed a five-year contract. Rooney has just come out with a statement saying the Glazers, David Gill and SAF have agreed to bring in top class players to strengthen the team and because they have confirmed this, he will now be staying at United. The Guardian is saying they believe his contract is 180,000 a week. That means now, SAF will be spending money on world class players. He has no other choice, or he will have more problems down the road. Once Rooney is fit to play, SAF can put Nani back on the right wing and BEBE on the left wing. As for Obertan, could send him out on loan. Tom Cleverley is coming back in January and SAF will be looking to feature him.

    • RobDiablo says

      If, indeed, Rooney’s new salary is £180K per week, he settled for far less than he could have got from City, so those of you calling him a greedy c*nt might have to rethink your position.

      I do think it unlikely that Rooney would have produced a list of either players currently at United that need to go, or players not at United that they have to purchase. He may have been concerned about Sir Alex’s retirement date as well as the leaving it to the last moment nature of the search for Giggs, Scholes, and VDS’s replacements. A simple assurance from the manager that he would stay coupled with Gill & Glazer assurances that suitable replacements would be brought in, may have been all that was necessary to placate Rooney for the time being.

  4. says

    SAF will have to utilise his “developing young people” skills with Obertan.

    He is a similar to what Ronaldo and Nani were initially, wide players with very strong skill sets but lacking in direction & end product. Give him time and I’m sure he’ll come through – as long as injures don’t stand in the way.

    He had a good pre-season tour in the US, and would have been an obvious replacement on the right wing for Valencia if he hadn’t be injured himself. Will more likely to be used at home, with Park ahead of him for away fixtures.

    Always has a moment of brilliance in him, a la Wolfsburg, so could also be a good impact sub.

  5. herbie simms says

    Iam sure Rooney gave them a list of players he felt were not up to United standard and don’t be surprised if you see United selling some of the current players.

  6. says

    If he did and Fergie listens I would be very surprised. A couple have to go though, don’t think Fergie needs to be told.

    Depends on who he brings in. At the moment our squad is very short in numbers due to injury. Carrick, Gibson, Anderson, Park and Brown are on the hot seat, but only getting rid of a couple would make sense.

    Of the above Carrick and Anderson have to be in real danger, and they would attract interest. Alot depends on the fitness of Cleverley & Hargreaves. If those are a risk expect neither to go.

  7. meraass says

    As with vidic and now with rooney (among others), I assume we must continually deal with players wanting to leave as part of posturing to get a better existing deal.

    Sad state of affairs but inevitable due to the increasing cloud of Citeh willing to pay silly money up-front.

  8. herbie simms says

    Iam sure in that meeting, Rooney gave them a list of players he felt were not up to United standards. I can tell they did not want to lose Rooney. He has backed them in a corner and now there is all this talk about world class players coming in. I assume there will be a few players sold also, ones Rooney told them just were not good enough. Is Rooney the boss now? I wonder how the rest of the players feel? He acted like he was a superstar and they were trash!

    • kundalini says

      Rooney may yet be one of the players shown the door in the summer though at fee that suits United. I’d be amazed if United start paying £50m+ for world class players – the deals for Kaka, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic etc are way beyond what we can afford. City can afford to beat any bid we make.

      United have a transfer strategy of buying highly talented young players and developing them over time. I cannot see that changing just because Wayne threw a tantrum. We brought Smalling, Rafael, Fabio, Obertan, Bebe, Diouf, Anderson and Hernandez to the club because we believed that they could become super players for us. Most of them are not expected to be first team regulars at this point, nor indeed next year either.

  9. RobDiablo says

    Unregistered User said:
    Iam sure in that meeting, Rooney gave them a list of players he felt were not up to United standards. I can tell they did not want to lose Rooney. He has backed them in a corner and now there is all this talk about world class players coming in. I assume there will be a few players sold also, ones Rooney told them just were not good enough. Is Rooney the boss now? I wonder how the rest of the players feel? He acted like he was a superstar and they were trash!

    It is highly unlikely that you KNOW anything about what happened in said meetings. You are speculating like the rest of us. While I do believe that Wayne is about as dumb as he looks, I do not believe that he felt it necessary to point out to Sir Alex the players who are not good enough. Several players have been doing an excellent job of playing themselves out of the side, so there was always going to be some players sold at the earliest opportunity.

    • kundalini says

      Few have been as bad as Rooney this season. In fact most of the points have been dropped either due to poor misses by players that have otherwise performed well (Nani’s penalty saved v Fulham and Berba’s poor miss v West Brom) or horrible defensive errors by Vidic (failed to mark his man at late corner in Fulham game), VDS (West Brom and also got his hand to both Fulham goals), O’Shea (failing to challenge Cahill for two headers in injury time), Evans’ numerous errors.

  10. Brown says

    Obertan is a good player and should be given more first team opportunities to prove his worth especially now he has put on more weight, anyway i trust Fergie knows what he is doing and at the right time his plans will bear fruits. The young players will gel together real soon.
    Rooney just made the best decision for his footballing career thanks o the ever reliable Sir Alex.

  11. bman says

    Unregistered User said:
    Whats your team for the Stoke game? Need to go there and get all 3 points!

    Well the United site confirms that Rooney won’t be playing because of an ankle knock. Fucking priceless, you couldn’t make it up.

  12. herbie simms says

    Rooney is out for three weeks! Will be back for the Man City game on Nov.10. I wonder how the other players are feeling after all of this. Hope it does not have an effect when they play against Stoke. All what Rooney has said of the guys that he plays with is pathetic. If I played for United and he refered to me as being mediocore, I would have no more respect for this man. I would not even pass him the ball on the field.

  13. herbie simms says

    RobDiablo, newspapers are reporting that Rooney blasted SAF for paying 8 million for unknown Bebe, a player he had never seen play before, when he had the chance to buy Van der Vaart for 7 million. Papers are claiming this was Rooney’s main argument. Don’t know where they got the story from, but if he said that, I wonder how Bebe feels?

      • mongoletsi says

        The irony being – for me – that I’m pretty sure the last goal I saw Bellion score at OT was… in Rooney’s debut.

        I remember that game well, we’d got there just as Giggs scored (didn’t see the goal) and my dad was like “Thanks Paul that’ll be the only goal now”. Hah! Whatever Dad!

        Just saying. I remember Ruud just looking pissed off all the game due to not being the #1 star anymore (Rooney got a hat trick). So towards the end, Ruud just got the ball and scored, beauty. As if to make a point.

        Bit off topic but y’know, sharing is caring :o)

    • mongoletsi says

      He didn’t do too badly alongside Ronnie or the troglodyte to be fair.

      Fuck. Hwo the fuck did I spell TROGLODYTE right? ahahah

  14. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Unregistered User said:
    Fans are saying Bebe is no longer a good footballer because Fergie cut off his dreadlocks!

    Why do I get the feeling that you may actually believe that?

  15. Spike says

    SAF is a wiley old wolf, he’ll put Obertan in when he thinks the time for the Frenchie is right, not before.
    He (Obertan) is definitely above, in playing skills, a lot of the first teamers in the side.

  16. Just1n says

    Unregistered User said:
    Looked solid coming on today.

    he does seem to have muscled up since he arrived at the club.

    Not as easy to push off the ball as before but he really needs to be given game time.

  17. Ted says

    If madhead got some more game time i reckon he could do a job. And if it kept out the white elephants like Carrick and Jimmy Spark i’d be happy. Professor Stephen Hawkin even with the joy stick missing off the arm of his wheelchair would still be more effective than them pair of interlopers.

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