Michael Obafemi’s move from Southampton in the summer was meant to be a new start for the striker and, on the face of the move itself, it felt like a good move from the Swans perspective as they added someone to their squad who was capable of scoring goals.
But it has been a very stuttering start to his time in South Wales and yet again last night he found himself on the sidelines watching at home as Russell Martin’s side put in a controlled and dominant display to leave Oakwell with three points in their pocket.
The headlines on the BBC Sport page this morning was that Obafemi needed to work on his conditioning which was the reason Martin did give for his absence last night. But was it the words that the Swans boss didn’t use rather than those that he did which gives the more detailed reasons why the striker again found himself on the sidelines just a few weeks after his first absence.
Obafemi was left out of the squad at the start of the month when we were beaten at Bournemouth an absence that was definitely put down to work rate and attitude of the player and it seems that things have not improved much since then despite Obafemi being given a chance to shine on Saturday when he replaced Joel Piroe in the second half of the draw with Blackpool.
His place in last night’s squad was given to Liam Cullen who made his own substitute appearance during the second half of the game and it was the words of Martin when asked about Cullen that give the biggest hint to the real reasons behind the absence of Obafemi “We have a guy who shows up every day, trains so hard, Liam Cullen, and who really deserves to be on the bench at the minute,” said the Swans boss.
That in itself feels like a hint that it is more than just work rate missing for Obafemi, the reference to turning up every day for me gives a clear indication that maybe that is not the case for all members of the squad and does that give a reason for Obafemi’s absence?
Martin doesn’t appear ready to give up yet though on his summer signing and he added “With Michael, he is a brilliant lad. We need to try to help him to settle in, to get to where he needs to be physically so he trusts his body and when he comes onto the pitch he can have the impact that Joel Piroe and Liam Cullen have.
“We will do – I have got no doubt about it – but with some people it just takes a little bit longer than others.
“He needs to get into a place where he is really fit and really ready to come on and have an impact for us.
“He has come on against Coventry and Blackpool and not had the impact he wants, not had the impact we want. I think it’s down to conditioning.”
As has been written before, Obafemi needs to heed the words of the manager and knuckle down and do the work he is paid for. Martin has proved he will get chances but he has to take those chances and not get himself into those places where he is omitted from matchday squads.
Martin did add that he felt he has seen improvements in the player’s attitude “”He’s training much better and much harder but when he comes on he can’t have the impact he wants for us and it’s affecting him and frustrating him.
“We have honest conversations about it and I’ve got no doubt he’ll be a really, really good player for us over a long period of time.
“We all need to help him with that. Me, the club and the players. We’re doing everything we can to help him settle.”