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Gabriel Obertan: Are we on the eve of the French Revolution?



Will this be Obertan's year to shine for Manchester United?Considering an estimated 40,000 people were killed during the reign of terror of the French Revolution (1789-1799), perhaps the allusion to this time of social and political upheaval may seem overly severe bearing in mind that this is an article about Gabriel Obertan. However, we are surely on the brink of Obertan’s rise to glory and success at Manchester United and, as he is French, logically the title makes perfect sense and is entirely tactful, right? Anyway, this season will be Obertan’s time to shine.

Theoretically the Frenchman should be an excellent winger: he’s skilful, athletic and a blisteringly fast sprinter. Notice how I’ve described him as ‘athletic’ rather than lanky, because although he’s 6’1’’ and looks dangerously emaciated, both of these factors are exaggerated by the fact that he plays in a position dominated by short and well-built players with a low centre of gravity for maximum speed and skill… Okay so he’s lanky, but that’s not a bad thing.

His height means that he’s surprisingly proficient in the air, which is quite a novelty amongst wingers nowadays. He’s not too tall though, like when Arsenal used to play Nicklas Bendtner as a winger; that was just embarrassing. Obertan’s got very quick feet too, and certainly has the potential to get past a man using his exceptional skill and his very impressive pace. I’m sure you’ll agree that on paper he sounds too good to be true.

That’s because he is. Despite his speed and skill, Gabriel Obertan suffers from a disorder that I call ‘Walcott Syndrome’; basically, he doesn’t know when he should shoot or pass or cross or hold onto the ball. As many pundits have said about suffers of this condition in the past: “He has no footballing brain”. I doubt that all of these ex-footballers and journalists are qualified physiologists and are in a position to comment on the psyche of others, but this analysis actually seems pretty accurate for those players who are ailed by ‘Walcott Syndrome’. They never seem to know what to do with the ball.

Obertan has a particularly severe case of this condition, and the stats back that up: in 76 appearances for French giants Bordeaux he scored only 6 goals. For an attacking player that’s pretty poor generally, let alone when the player in question possesses all the qualities that I’ve previously mentioned which should make him a force to be reckoned with. Also he’s only scored one competitive goal for his current club Manchester United and despite the fact that it was a well-taken shot against the Turkish team Bursaspor in the Champions League, many fans would rather see him taken to the guillotine than him start in an important match in the league.

However, I think this year will be different and to demonstrate this I’ll revert back to the French Revolution metaphor. The Bastille will fall after a difficult but ultimately successful battle and Obertan will reign supreme, holding off competition by making barbarous allegations that they are traitors to the Republic and having them guillotined. Figuratively, ‘the Bastille’ represents negative public opinion towards Gabriel Obertan and ‘barbarous allegations that they are traitors to the Republic and having them guillotined’ represents playing better than them and forcing them onto the substitute bench after several flawless and awe-inspiring performances. But that was obvious.

This season will be Obertan’s third at Manchester United, and even if this argument so far has been utterly unconvincing, it’s unlikely that a young player can work with the likes of Giggs and Rooney for so long without improving in the game. For this reason I think this season could be Obertan’s year. And if I’m wrong, at least he’s better than Bébé.



  1. William

    July 28, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Another great article! Who is this writer and why haven’t I heard of him before?!

  2. true teller

    July 28, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    yes i think you said all i had in my mind
    as a foot baller i can allready see him he
    will do good this year and coming years
    he will be the one every body will like to see

  3. Leon

    July 29, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    last sentence made me laugh hahaha

  4. cynic

    July 29, 2011 at 6:53 AM

    strange that this article comes out now, describing Obertan’s frame as emaciated in the week that everyone is talking about how much more buff he has become. He’s a tank now! Nice writing style but this embarrassing oversight leaves a bitter taste. Strange, Matt Jennings. Strange indeed…

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