We’ve had a few players over the years who’ve managed to split opinions of supporters fairly drastically. Bendtner, Cattermole, Cana to name a few. The latest of which appears to be Yann M’Vila. To some he is untouchable and to others he offers little. Which is it then?
Initially I was hugely impressed. He seemed to have a definite air of quality, and managed to impose himself on games. Was he genuinely quality, or was it the comparative dross around him making him stand out? It seemed to be the former. From his debut in the debacle against (ironically) Norwich, he looked a cut above the rest.
It went on; he scored a cracker at Villa, was instrumental in the win against Newcastle and generally impressed in the centre of midfield. His passing can be, and was certainly at the beginning of the season, fantastic. He is a also a character, something that is loved here on Wearside.
So then, he must be signed permanently. Surely that’s the opinion of everyone? Well it turns out it wasn’t. I was talking to more and more People in the pubs after the game that just didn’t seem to “get” him. The consensus from those were that he simply didn’t offer enough, and “what does he actually do?”.
As the season went on, and I thought more about it, that opinion did in some ways make sense to me. Aside from the early goal at Villa, and the Newcastle assist, going forward he is not really a creator or a goal scorer. As he breaks up player rather than obviously creating opportunities, his contributions are perhaps overlooked by some, particularly those maybe not watching every game in full. M’Vila is not the stereotypical ‘Match of the Day player.”
However, I fully believe that there is a talented footballer there and he clearly loves the club (mind the last thing we need is ANOTHER rallying cry). I also firmly believe that he has been our standout performer along with Defoe, in yet another dire season.
There is no denying though that M’Vila has struggled of late. This seems to have coincided with the arrival of Jan Kirchhoff. Kirchhoff has been brilliant, aside from the Spurs game where he was quickly judged by some as the worst player in the history of the world and the universe ever. M’Vila has been fairly anonymous in games, his passing radar has been off and he hasn’t really been the same player. Maybe then, he doesn’t feel as if he has to carry the midfield as much as he did? Perhaps he has slipped into a comfort zone? Now is not the time for that!
Regarding the split opinion, you get the impression there are more people with a positive view of him; indicated with the disapproval of his substitution against Leicester. After his withdrawal, you would then surely be expecting a Rodwell or a Lens from the bench to be busting a gut to impress or create something. It just isn’t the case though. Lens generally looks like he thinks he is doing the club a favour by playing football, and Rodwell has this incredible knack of looking like he might just have turned a corner before spectacularly crashing back to square one.
So, it’s time for M’Vila to step back up to the plate and take the game on Saturday as his personal responsibility. In my opinion he is at his best when he thinks he can’t rely on others, meaning he can be the stand out player. If he can impose himself at Norwich it gives us a real chance.
“Yann, take it upon yourself to run the show. You have the ability and the passion, I’m sure of it; but time is running out.”