18 Mar, 21:06
Kenyan international and
Southampton’s midfielder Victor Wanyama
is set for a return to action after a five game suspension when Saints host
Liverpool in the weekend EPL tie .
His return comes as time when fans and pundits have abounded in assessing a Saints side with Wanyama and that without with conclusions’ thereof drawn. For any player such dismissals does more harm than good to a career and the Kenyan has hard choices to make to his checkered one so far.
Perhaps influenced by his recent interests from other PL sides, popular opinions claims he returns not as the indispensable midfield king pin any more, as other point to a recent depreciation of his value in the PL.
To an extent, the assertion though not entirely conclusive, carry some bits of facts along going by the team recent run. Wanyama bagged an assist in the last clash against Westham United prior to his third sent off even as the South Coast Club held out to win the tie. They would later grind a win against Sunderland and Swansea before suffering successive defeats to Chelsea and AFC Bournemouth with the Kenyan serving suspension.
Most significantly, he retains a potent figure to the man who matters, his coach has demonstrated his readiness to reinstate the Kenyan in his words ‘a key player for us’ back to the team. Ronald Koeman has more than once handed him a direct return to first team from Suspension, and if this happens against Liverpool it portends much on his coach ratings and trusts.
Make , Break Stats
Even so, Wanyama faces and daunting task ahead. More than any other time, His career will come under a sharp spot light, one with which make or break statistic that could ultimately form the basis of rating his subsequent value: more of a defining phase indeed .
Despite having, is it a year left in his contract with Saints? The former Celtic anchorman ticks on the radar of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur so far. back in his club, midfield rival Oriol Romeu has been the biggest beneficiary of his absence trying to impress from a run-in of games. In the time, Koeman even as his past preference has been to the Kenyan, the Dutchman has been left with some lingering thoughts to entertains about the pair.
Wanyama is definitely coming back well taught, or at least that how we hope. With all that focus, He needs to strike a balance. Do I tackle here, does he opt for a more cautious approach as he seeks to reinstate a battered image and latest profile of a seemingly reckless tackler. Granted, a DM-minded player, making a decision on when to tackle and when not to is remains paramount. It can determine how you fare amidst the increased flimsy grounds of dishing out cautions adopted lately adopted by match officials.
Nonetheless, Big Vic has to maintain what makes him the beast of Southampton; His renowned combativeness is his strength, winning battles crucial interceptions are all entrenched in his profile and these must remain. With added caution and restraint, they make him the player he is.
Fair play to the Kenyan, other players have also collected dismissal from such ‘reckless’ tackles when seemed not to tackle would be ideal. His skipper Jose Fonte was sent off lately, Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin was dispatched for an early shower during the North London derby to mention but a few.
Furthermore context of Wanyama’s dismissal left some questions: from face value , three red in a space of games less than nine games should seen the Kenyan thinking deep on how he tackles. But two came from the same official. And a time when recent questionable send off decisions from refs is becoming an order of the day, subsequent talk/analysis on the dismissals can hardly be wished away. Europa League of Sevilla’s Stephen Nzonzi red cards remain one of them.
In fact, Ronald Koeman himself stated after Wanyama dismissal that he had seen far much worse tackles than that Wanyama’s scything on Dimtri Payet.
Back to the Kenyan, his career is at cross roads and must of the decisive phase. He has toiled to carve out an illustrious career as first Kenyan to feature and score in the World’s most prestigious league. More exacting tasks lies ahead: a looming competition for starting berth, consolidating his trust and belief in Saints coach and keeping high his market value in most fluctuating market in Europe.
Pressure will be there, and hard-pressing situations at such of elevated stage: when to engage and when not to remains key for a DM and consequences for mistimed tackles will attract spelt punishment. But three seasons now in the league, i can only trust the Kenyan has enough mental stamina to keep his head down, focus on his game and perform his role when handed the nod.
Adversity defines people. It remains to be seen how he fares!