Written by Steven McCarthy
I want to take a look at the exciting season loan move for Oxford to Borussia Monchengladbach, now this is a move that has been met with some anger and confusion on social media by some West Ham fans. But we need to remember that this is a young man who won’t turn 19 till December! We have great expectations for the player and after the 2015’s seasons domination of Ozil at the Emirates, we perhaps expected too much in a short space of time.
Last year was a strange time for Oxford, as he found the previously unseen talent of Obiang competing for, and rightly cementing a starting place. Whilst Noble and Kouyate were never really going to be pushed down the pecking order. Considering one is our captain and the other offering consistent power, presence and work rate.
Many fans, including myself questioned Nordtveit’s placement above him.
Before I go into whether I feel that was correct or not, I have heard that Oxford’s fitness was not that of a Premier League player at any point during this season, and that many felt his attitude was questionable.
But after a Summer in which he was constantly linked with numerous top clubs, realistically he was bound to have his head turned!
And in my opinion, any young man who has played in the Premier League is bound to have an ego, but off the pitch Oxford differs for me, there were no Grealish type stories of partying into the late hours before or after games or any gas inhales out of rubber gloves.
I think this was simply a season where he was finding out the harsh realities of a top level footballers career, it can be irreparably damaged or ended in an instant, either through injuries, contract releases, terminations or the simple act of making an out of placed tackle on a youth team player…Luckily for Oxford though, he is a natural athlete, tall, strong and displaying great technique and his potential is something that I don’t think was ever in question, even during his somewhat disappointing loan spell with Reading.
The move to Germany is also something that we often complain that English players do not do enough, play abroad.
He would get the test of playing and living in a totally new environment, language and culture, something that is often understated in importance when players move. Simply understanding the coaches, staff and other players is a big challenge without that core English base around him! Oxford would find himself in a Gladbach side that finished 9th last season, whilst playing a young and energetic side week in, week out. They are currently seeing the departure of Andreas Christensen back to Chelsea, a young Defender who also offered similar versatility as Oxford.
The German League is possibly the League within Europe that best mirrors our own. Teams like Bayern, Dortmund and the emerging forces of RB Leipzig that make up the top tier teams. And then the rest of the sides are constantly battling it out to finish just below them, with Leverkusen, Gladbach and Schalke all recently having competed in Europe.
However the German League is miles ahead of us in a couple of worrying ways, youth systems, nutrition and the overall standard of coaching for their first teams, reserves and youth sides is second to none!
From top to bottom, not only is the standard incredibly high, but players are regularly challenged in new and varying passing, techniques and ball control drills.
Sides are also continually implementing new technology and sport science advancements into the setups – this is possibly best displayed in Dortmund’s incredible “Footbonaut” training room (no I am not making that name up!) – Best described as a 4 sided training grid on a small surface area of pitch, balls are fired into the middle from any of the 4 sides, testing reaction times and ball control of the player, whilst a panel at varying positions lights up to be the players target! These are only advancements on training methods and techniques that have been used for years, and they signify just how innovative the Germans are in the area of coaching. And I feel this will be one of the very best ways for us to see the best possible Oxford in the future!
Now I am curious to see how many fans agree or disagree with me on this, but one of the reasons I favour this move for Oxford is that I am rather optimistic about Nordtveit getting another season with us. He found himself regularly played out of position at right back in a very poorly performing side, and against Swansea I thought we saw his first good game! However when given the chance to play in his preferred position against the likes of Stoke and Everton in the centre of the park, I felt he really shone. Now granted, these were only a few performances, but I do feel that he can really offer us something next season and considering he was a free signing, we have very little to lose by giving him more time.
And should he not, then hopefully next season we have a much improved Oxford to step in”