Many scoffed at the news of Odion Ighalo's deadline day move to Manchester United, but Nicole Deans believes fans shouldn’t be too quick to judge the striker.
Following the well-overdue formalisation of Bruno Fernandes’ transfer, there was one last-minute signing nobody expected. Solskjær had previously said he wanted a striker who’d be willing to ‘break their nose to score a goal’, but when the announcement finally dropped, plenty of eyebrows were raised.
Fairytales tell us before the clock strikes the *ahem* deadline, magic can happen. But to many, this wasn't a ‘happily ever after’ scenario.
As soon as Odion Ighalo's name was mentioned, many laughed. Coming from Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, this was not the signing many had imagined, let alone wanted. However, the reaction in Nigeria could not have been more different: the news sparked street parties in celebration.
What could he possibly add to this team? Arguably past his prime, uninspiring statistically and, for some, seemed a choice born out of necessity and panic as opposed to being a long-term target.
If I may point out, though – how many times have we signed a big name? One who got us all excited before ultimately failing to make a mark on the imperious stage that is Old Trafford? Angel Di Maria, Falcao, Alexis Sanchez – just some examples of signings who seemed ideal on paper, but in reality, failed to fit in or perform accordingly.
Let’s not forget that Ighalo scored five goals at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations – winning the tournament’s Golden Boot award.
So, at very least, we should let Ighalo get a few games under his belt before judging him. After all, it’s only a six-month loan. What do we really have to lose?
Ighalo's first interview was a breath of fresh air. Fans softened after hearing from the man himself. He spoke of his genuine love and support for Manchester United, and how this moment might not mean everything to us…but it certainly does to him!
Being a fan of the club doesn't automatically equate to success on the pitch, but it does offer us the possibility of seeing someone willing to give their absolute all. Which is funny, really, because there are plenty of players who’re rated and adored on a much higher level who don't seem to give one hundred percent consistently.
We may be unhappy with the business side of things – with the handling of signings or lack thereof – we may be ‘Ole in’ or ‘Ole out’, but none of that is Ighalo's fault. With Rashford injured, we were in need of a forward, and like Ighalo or not, that’s still what we got.
Let’s not forget Ighalo scored seven goals in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign – the most by any player, no less – and five in the tournament itself.
In this modern age of football, everything can change from one season to the next. Nothing is guaranteed. The best players can struggle to gain momentum or sustain injuries. There is really no way of accurately predicting what will follow.
That is why we should, at very least, see how this story unfolds. It could well be a short chapter with little meaning. Then again, he could prove us all wrong and be the exact plot twist we've all been waiting for.