Karen Beard > Mipo Odubeko, a talented 18 year-old, arrived at the London Stadium in October 2019 from Manchester United (having spent three years with the Red Devils) believing his chances of first team football were better with the Hammers.
On Tuesday 9th February 2021, that chance became a reality when in the 54th minute he was substituted on to replace the injured Andriy Yarmolenko, finally getting what was regarded as his debut in a West Ham shirt; but it didn’t quite pan out as the youngster would have hoped.
He lasted about 30 minutes before being hauled off by David Moyes just before extra time, following a disappointing display. The question is: was it the right decision, when such a humiliating move could destroy the player’s confidence?
Many would argue that the outcome of the game is far more important than the ego of one player – and to a certain extent that is true. Football is and will continue to be a results based industry – no one remembers second place or the losers in a cup final, and of course the financial rewards that go with success are incredibly lucrative.
On the other hand, as a club we have a duty of care for the young players on contracts with us and must ensure that player wellbeing is paramount in any decisions made. Whilst building resilience in our young players is something our Academy does as part of their remit, can a player really be prepared for such a soul-destroying experience as that afforded to Mipo? Also, it is well documented that many young players are resorting to extreme actions following huge disappointments within football. The effects of just one act could be devastatingly irreversible.
Odubeko did take to social media following the game and had this to say, “Yesterday’s game has taught me a lot about myself and the levels I need to produce to obtain my dreams and help the team in the future.” Mature and wise words from a young man who hopefully will take the positives from this whole experience.
In football things do not always go our way, but this is a team sport and all things considered, I feel as a team we should have seen the game out with Odubeko on the pitch.