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We should be praising Nathan Oduwa over his showboating

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During Sunday’s 5-1 win for Rangers over Alloa, Rangers new boy Nathan Oduwa decided to showboat a wee bit as he tried to get past Alloa defender Colin Hamilton.

The on loan Spurs youngster, who was making his debut at the Indodrill Stadium, came off the bench replacing Barrie McKay with 30 minutes left to play with the game as a contest long over.

With another win in the bag for Mark Warburton’s men and the fans in celebratory mood after what can only be described as a horrendous time of it over the past four years – Oduwa looked to give the Rangers fans a glimpse of some of his skills as he attempted an audacious rainbow flick to get past Hamilton.

Now while he managed to flick the ball over the head of Hamilton, the Alloa defender managed to hold off the Rangers youngster and then secured a foul. But look at the faces of those fans behind the goal when Oduwa performed the neat wee flick – beaming smiles on their faces, clapping and cheering.

That is what we need in the Scottish game. Currently [and it is my opinion]that the game from a fans perspective is become too sterile. We are told to sit down, shut up, don’t sign certain songs because they could be seen as offensive. Stewards are in your face barking orders at you like mini hitlers on a power trip knowing that if anything happens it is the fans that get the blame rather than totalitarian hi-vis vest wearing mouth pieces.

So fair play to the lad, I applaud him for not only attempting to do the flick but also succeeding in doing it albeit not getting onto the end of it past Hamilton.

BUT it seems that not everyone is happy at the kids showboating – not least Oduwa’s victim of the flick – Colin Hamilton.

The defender said: “He’s come up here and he’s trying to show off, trying to make a name for himself. What can you do? I felt as if he was taking the p***.

“What was there, a minute to go? Was there really any need for it? I can’t tell anyone how to play or not play, it’s their decision. But there were so many Rangers fans behind the goal and he was wanting to make a name with them by trying a wee trick when his side were 5-1 up.

“I didn’t get the chance to speak to him after the game as he just walked off but I’m sure there will be other guys in the league who, if he tries that against them, maybe won’t let him away with it.”

Is the issue over the showboating, that the kid was taking the piss, that he was trying to make a name for himself among the Rangers fans, that he was doing it at the end of the match or is it simply that Hamilton was embarrassed?

What if he had done a Cruyff turn, a rai flick, the Adriano or the Ronaldo 2 [Don’t know what they are google them]? Would Hamilton still be taking exception to Oduwa’s bit of showboating?

In this country we laud the likes of Davie Cooper, Kenny Dalglish, Jimmy Johnstone, Denis Law, George Best – not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – but there was also Jim Baxter. The latter was prone to a wee bit of showboating also – most famously in the 3-2 win over World Cup champions England in 1967 at Wembley when he decided to rub a wee bit salt into the wounds by doing a few keepie uppies.

Did we hear the English footballers running to the press over Baxter’s display of showmanship?

The then-Scotland manager Bobby Brown was irked by Baxter’s theatrics though, in an interview several years ago, Brown admitted: “I was doing my head at Baxter, because we were so much on top at that time. Denis Law had two great efforts wonderfully saved by [Gordon] Banks and because of this I felt I wanted to rub it in, so to speak, because there was only one team on the field.

“England were being completely outplayed and the following we had, the Scots supporters, were loving this, the demise of England. The 3-2 score-line flattered England. I was annoyed [with Baxter’s keepy-uppy]because I did feel, for goodness’ sake get on with the game because we’re so much on top, it’s goals that we want. I really felt that.

“Anyway, it was a wonderful victory. When people think of that game they think of Jim Baxter and his keepy-up, but the crux of that team was Jim McCalliog, no doubt about it.”

Bah humbug!

There is some similarity between Brown and what Warburton had to say post-match over Oduwa.

He said: “There’s no lack of respect intended by any of the players, absolutely not. He’s just enjoying his football. We’ll have a quiet word about that. He’s a very respectful young guy. And I’ve no doubt he’ll make a right impression this season – for all the right reasons.

“He’s a very talented player. We’ve been chasing him for a long while. He’s come from a terrific academy and did a good pre-season with the Spurs first team. So I’m delighted with how he played, delighted we’ve got him. But he has to realise that he’s up here to learn. There will be some difficult challenges ahead for every player. It’s how we deal with them.”

I can understand Warburton’s point of view, but I can see it from the fans as well as the defender’s point of view also.

When I was younger [I sound like a grandpa!] and in my playing days we would face a multitude of teams with different abilities and styles. Some would be all brute force and gung ho attack, while some would be defensive park the bus types. But every now and again we would face a side who would had one or two talented players in their ranks – the show men. You could spot them a mile away back then [early noughties]as they were the ones who wore the fancy fan coloured football boots that are commonplace nowadays – everyone else wore black!

So when you faced these guys as a defender you would immediately think that this guy is fancy, he likes to show off and you aimed to put him straight within minutes of the game starting. Invariably myself and/or my fellow team mates would – and I am not ashamed to say this – target the guy throughout the game [when you could actually tackle players properly not like nowadays].

Most of the tackles would be fair and clean, but every so often there would be one where the studs would be slightly higher or the tackle slightly late etc – and all that was just over the colour of the guys football boots!

Did anyone try to do the neat flicks or fancy tricks against us? Of course.

Did they work? If they did they only worked the first couple of times, there would then be a point where he wouldn’t get a chance to do any more fancy tricks without a polite reminder as he ended up six foot in the air hitting the ground with a bang.

So I can sympathise with Hamilton in some respects, but in all honesty when its someone in your team doing it when you are so dominant and with such a lead – there is no harm at all in it.

It would be a totally different story if the game was still on a knife edge and with a minute remaining you needed to score – the player doing the fancy tricks would not only get a boot from the opposition players but also his team mates and manager also during and after the game.

Look at Kallum Higginbotham’s penalty for Kilmarnock against Celtic on the 88th minute last week in the 2-2 draw at Rugby Park. Just imagine the fall out if the Killie striker had watched his panacea sail into the arms of Craig Gordon?

That goal was lauded by the fans, the media and his team mates for not only the skill but also for the player having the balls to do it at such an important time of the match and being a goal down to equalise.

If he had missed it thought he would have been booted up and down Kilmarnock by his team mates, his manager and the fans.

But it is these little things that make football a great game to watch as well as participate in.

As a fan – you love skillful players, you love a player who wants to entertain and put on a show for the fans and whether it was disrespectful or not you want these characters in the game. Otherwise we will end up being subjected to 22 players with no personalities whatsover on the pitch and the fans falling asleep through boredom.

I also expect a fair few opposition players to now look at Oduwa and before he even contemplates doing any tricks against them – go in for a robust tackle against the kid to give him a wee warning. But that is when he needs to decide to knuckle down and ditch the fancy footwork or continue to do the job but entertain also.

So give the kid a break, let him entertain the fans, let him make a name for himself [as long as he does the job tasked to him]but when it comes round to facing the team that I support and he does that – of course I would be hoping for my team’s players to do what I would do – send him six feet into the air through a fair and robust tackle.

Well done Oduwa more of the same please.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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