Sunday Oliseh’s statement about John Mikel Obi’s defensive and offensive abilities is not correct judging by statements made by his former managers.
The former Super Eagles manager in an interview on Athlst said John Mikel Obi lacked the qualities to play as an offensive midfielder and could only be a useful defensive midfielder.
Sunday Oliseh who has been without a club since he was sacked in 2018 by Dutch club Fortuna Sittard said Mikel Obi didn’t possess any quality an actual offensive midfielder should possess.
“He’s a player who’s done some good with Chelsea. But when you talk about playing as an offensive midfielder, he’s not an offensive midfielder.
“My man here knows I’m blunt to say certain things.
“Offensive midfielders have certain qualities and he doesn’t have any of them. As regards a defensive midfielder, I think he’s useful but I won’t play him.
“I’ll play Ndidi because a defensive midfielder’s work is- you have to win balls without making fouls, you have to be very good at aerial balls. You have to have some control by helping others,” Oliseh said.
While Sunday Oliseh is entitled to his opinion these statements are far from the truth and different from the managers who saw him on daily basis said about him.
Great coaches such as Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Guus Hiddink differed as they regarded John Mikel Obi as more than a useful defensive midfielder.
Jose Mourinho in Mikel in April 2007: “He is a genius in his position. It is a miracle if he loses the ball.”
Guus Hiddink on Mikel Obi in 2016: “If the team is not willing to defend well or have the right balance then you concede a lot of goals. I thought John Obi can be one of the key figures in getting the balance back. On top of that, the talented players can then explore their qualities.
“He can recover the radar. He knows the game very well. He knows where the strength of the opponent is and he knows exactly how to cope with that. He has a very good eye, a very good nose, and a very good sense of where to recover.
“He doesn’t do it in a very brutal way – he’s very, very elegant. What I like to see very much is not just a quality player but a player who can defend so smoothly. It’s beautiful to see. He doesn’t lose many balls, he’s good in short passing. I don’t expect and I don’t ask him to make the decisive final pass. He can but no, we let the other players do that.”
Carlo Ancelotti on Mikel Obi in July 2009: “I have a lot of trust in Mikel, I think he can be the playmaker of this team. He is a young player but has great quality, both technical and tactical.
“For the present and for the future, he is a very important player for us. We are very happy he has signed a new contract and I hope that he stays at Chelsea for a lot of years.
“I would like that he puts in his great quality for the team.”
Other managers such as Luiz Felipe Scolari, Rafael Benitez, and Roberto Di Matteo who won major titles such as FIFA World Cup, the Champions League, and UEFA Cup also have different opinions from Sunday Oliseh.
Luiz Felipe Scolari on Mikel: “I knew he would be a big part of my team.
“With Claude Makelele leaving I was sure Mikel could be the player to play in his position in the future.
“When Makelele was here he was the one playing because he was the more experienced player. But now is the time for Mikel. I always pick him.
“If we don’t give him the chance to play how will he get the experience? He’s had maybe 20 games for me and played 18 very well.
“He’s so young, only 21, and has learned a lot with Makelele and Michael Essien, who’s injured at the moment.
“He looks like he belongs in the position, knows more about his position, and is a more experienced player.
“Mikel is like a lot of African players who have what all coaches want which is power but also a style where they are comfortable with the ball, can control it, and dribble with it.”
Roberto Di Matteo on Mikel Obi: “I don’t think John [Mikel Obi] gets the credit for the work he does for the team,” Di Matteo said.
“His teammates and the management team understand and appreciate it, but maybe the fans are more focused on the more creative players and goal scorers, but that role is vital in our team.
“Over the years he has been almost ever-present, and he has been very important over the back end of last season and this season he started in good form.
“He has a thankless task really, and I understand because I played in that role myself a little bit during my career.
“He and the player alongside him need to have a good understanding and communication, so that we always have one of the two behind the ball who is able to provide an outlet for us, to switch play, and also be the first player thinking about if we lose the ball. Our team needs organization in front of the defense,” Di Matteo added.
He started in all four FA Cup finals he won (2006–07, 2008–09, 2009-10, 2011–12), played in one out of the two League Cup finals he won (2006-07 and 2014-15), played 120 minutes in the 2012 Champions League success.
He was injured and didn’t play any part in the 2013 Europa Cup final.
John Mikel Obi who Sunday Oliseh deemed a ‘useful defensive midfielder’ played in the role of some of the most successful managers during his time at Chelsea.
As an offensive midfielder, John Obi Mikel showed what he was capable of at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and in many games for the Super Eagles.
He was outstanding at the 2013 AFCON and played great offensive football at the Confederation Cup in games against Uruguay and against mighty Spain who had Xavi, Iniesta, Busquet, and co in their ranks.
John Obi Mikel was not an Austin Okocha but he delivered in the offensive role while playing for the Super Eagles.
Sunday Oliseh like every other person is entitled to their opinions but sometimes it is good to be factual and without sentiment or bias.