HomeFeatures

Alex Iwobi Thriving Under Rafa Benitez Guidance At Everton

Alex Iwobi Thriving Under Rafa Benitez Guidance At Everton

The hard work and patience finally appears to be paying dividends for Alex Iwobi, who has opened the new English football season with impressive displays. Under the guidance of Spanish coach Rafa Benitez, the Nigerian winger could be set to discover the best form of his career, unlocking the full potential this talented footballer always possessed.

Iwobi was born in Lagos but moved to England via Turkey aged four, then grew up in the London borough of Newham. He is actually the maternal nephew of Nigeria legend Jay-Jay Okacha, who is often regarded as one of the best African players of all time. Undoubtedly a huge inspiration, it was clear the youngster would always follow the footsteps of his uncle.

1xBit

Arsenal development & representing Nigeria

As a youngster still in primary school, Iwobi joined the Arsenal academy system, although his pathway to professionalism was never guaranteed, nearly being released by the club at the ages of 14 and 16. Nevertheless, aided by his own self-belief and the determination to succeed, Iwobi eventually debuted with the Gunners first team in October 2015.

Zenith Ziva

The first two appearances with Nigeria also followed in 2015. Despite having initially represented England at youth level, when the call came from the Super Eagles, it was too good to resist. Meanwhile, the positive progress continued at Arsenal, as Iwobi gradually became a more important member of the squad under Arsène Wenger.

Having made 21 appearances in all competitions during his 2015-16 debut season, Iwobi played 38 games in the 2016-17 campaign, then continued to underline his qualities during the 2017-18 season by making 39 appearances. That was the final campaign with Wenger at the helm, as the iconic Frenchman resigned after spending 22 incredible years at Arsenal.

Interestingly, when Spanish coach Unai Emery arrived at the Gunners, it also led to Iwobi gaining a more important role within the team. During the 2018-19 season, Iwobi made 51 appearances in all competitions, which remains his most through any single season to date. However, he would also find that was no guarantee regarding his Arsenal future.

Move to Everton & struggles at Goodison Park

After participating at the 2019 African Cup of Nations with Nigeria, rumours were already beginning to circulate about Iwobi’s future at Arsenal. There was interest from Everton and with the Gunners already planning a rebuild of their squad, they accepted an offer worth £34 million in August 2019.

Portuguese coach Marco Silva was manager of Everton at the time, although following a string of bad results, he was fired in December 2019. The Toffees turned to experienced manager Carlo Ancelotti, tasking him with turning the team’s fortunes around. While the Italian did bring improved performances, Iwobi struggled to get regular games through the 2019-20 campaign.

https://twitter.com/TheEvertonEnd/status/1370382017104347144?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Having made 21 appearances in all competitions during his 2015-16 debut season, Iwobi played 38 games in the 2016-17 campaign, then continued to underline his qualities during the 2017-18 season by making 39 appearances. That was the final campaign with Wenger at the helm, as the iconic Frenchman resigned after spending 22 incredible years at Arsenal.

Interestingly, when Spanish coach Unai Emery arrived at the Gunners, it also led to Iwobi gaining a more important role within the team. During the 2018-19 season, Iwobi made 51 appearances in all competitions, which remains his most through any single season to date. However, he would also find that was no guarantee regarding his Arsenal future.

Related: Benitez Lavishes Praise On Iwobi After Carabao Cup Win Vs Huddersfield Town

Move to Everton & struggles at Goodison Park

After participating at the 2019 African Cup of Nations with Nigeria, rumours were already beginning to circulate about Iwobi’s future at Arsenal. There was interest from Everton and with the Gunners already planning a rebuild of their squad, they accepted an offer worth £34 million in August 2019.

Portuguese coach Marco Silva was manager of Everton at the time, although following a string of bad results, he was fired in December 2019. The Toffees turned to experienced manager Carlo Ancelotti, tasking him with turning the team’s fortunes around. While the Italian did bring improved performances, Iwobi struggled to get regular games through the 2019-20 campaign.

Despite the sensation of always being on the fringe of things at Everton, unable to carve out an important role in the team thus far, it seems as though Benitez has been willing to take a gamble with Iwobi. In the first three games of the season, two in the Premier League and one in the League Cup, Iwobi has been in the starting eleven twice and played from the bench once. He has repaid the faith of his boss with one goal and one assist.

Iwobi appears to be enjoying life under Everton’s new manager, eager to repay the confidence and faith that Benitez has bestowed. Likewise, the Spanish coach doesn’t believe that selecting the Nigerian winger brings any risks, fully confident the 25-year-old has the ability to finally shine at Goodison Park. That’s great news for Iwobi and if he can maintain the consistency required, this could be a marvellous campaign he can truly enjoy.

Pivotal opportunity for Iwobi & the Super Eagles

Hopefully, the quality form of Iwobi will continue at Everton and this could really be a boost for his career. Inevitably, improved confidence and performances from the player will also be good news for Nigeria, as they seek to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Whenever in top shape, Iwobi has the talent to be a valuable asset for his national team.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 11
  • Gowerok 4 weeks ago

    Those criticisizing Iwobi do not understand football one bit.He is a top talent and brings something unique to any team he plays for.His touches are sweet and sleek ,with the inate ability to unlock tight defenses.Though I admit he needs to score more often but the truth is that he more of a number 10 whose duty is to initiate attack and not to score goals but if the opportunity comes he can score
    .So whether Critics like him or not Iwobi is a top talent.

     
    • Dr. Drey 4 weeks ago

      “..Though I admit he needs to score more often…”

      That exactly is what those who “criticize” Iwobi also criticize him for. So if they dont understand football ‘One bit’ for identifying what you also identified as you said, then you also do not understand football.

      Since according to you, the duty of a number 10 is to initiate attack and not to score goals, then please dont complain if Iwobi is continually benched for a no 10 like James Rodriguez who both initiates attacks and scores goals as well.

      At least you will agree with me that a no 10 who scored 2 goals and 3 assists in 36 matches in a season shouldnt be starting ahead of a no 10 who scored 6 goals and 9 assists in 26 matches in the same season.

       
      • @ Drey, I think the theme of gowerok comments is, most of the critisicm are always an overkill, which fails to see the many other good aspects of his game.

         
  • To my own view i think he (iwobi) need to improve more on his game

     
  • Y’all are getting it twisted. The primary function of a number 10 in a team……is to play-make. Scoring goals and providing assist is secondary. Okocha never scored or assisted all the time for the SE. But because of how great he performed his primary duty, he is regarded till date, as our best number 10

     
    • @ Ocherome MMA, a No, 10 no doubt has to be counted amonst the goals. But we can’t blame Iwobi too much, as he has been scarcely played in that position at Everton, especially under Ancelloti, who played him so so far away from scoring positions. If Rodriguez had played in similar positions as Iwobi , he could probably had struggled too with goals return.

       
  • Dr. Drey 4 weeks ago

    Show me a no 10 who doesn’t score and/or assist in modern football….and I’ll show you a no 10 who will never reach the top.

    A number 10 who scores and assists will always start in the same team in the no 10 position ahead of the one who doesn’t…..no matter how good the latter is a making play.

     
  • It’s simple, Iwobi should score more goals and record more assists. Even if he doesn’t score much goals, he has no excuse not to assist.

     
  • Iwobi doesn’t have to put too much focus on scoring or assisting. He should rather work more on his play making: dribbling, ability to retain the ball, distribute the ball, pass efficiency etc. The better he gets in play making, the more he is seen as the nucleus of his team. If goals and assist come, fine. If not, life goes on. He doesn’t necessarily have to provide the assist directly, he could be the one that gave the ball to the player who did the assist. That is the play maker.
    Goals and assists are just mere statistics, which is influenced by luck and chance. A midfielder can give ten very nice passes that should on a good day result to goals…..but unluckily for him, the striker misses all the chances.
    With a good and an efficient player maker in a team, the team is more likely to have a higher ball possession, because of of his great play making skills and abilities. In the days of Okocha in SE, his team mates always give him the ball, because they know he is very likely to retain possession and do something creative with the ball against the odds. Sometimes, he will have to do one, two or more dribbles to enable his teammates take positions before he passes or distributes the ball. In football, higher possession equals to higher probability of winning.
    While Mikel was at Chelsea, he scored only once in a blue moon. But because he did his primary function very well, he was always in the line up despite the fact that modern DMs are also expected to score regularly.
    If Iwobi can establish himself as an effective and efficient play maker in his team, he will always be in the line, irrespective of goals and assists

     
  • It is quite unfortunate that somebody will write here that Okocha never scored for Nigeria. This is somebody who scored on his debut against Algeria. Iwobi should improve on goal-scoring to be a perfect player whether no 10 or 7.