It's safe to say that Tottenham Hotspur loanee Nathan Oduwa hasn't received the warmest of welcomes from Scottish football. Just three months into his loan at Rangers, the winger has dished up some impressive highlight-worthy skill moves.
Pretty cool stuff, but it's also made him the apparent target of the entire opposing Scottish second division. Apparently not very good Scottish defenders don't like it when there are skill players who are better than they are and they tend to take it out on your ankles. Yesterday, during Rangers' 1-0 victory of Livingston in the Petrofac Training Cup, Oduwa most definitely targeted with some, shall we say, less than sporting defending.
Like this "tackle," for example.
ClydeSSB one or two calls allowed to be chosen over the assault on Oduwa then sweep sweep we must move on ✔️ pic.twitter.com/62D2Fp4HFG— Gary (@UlstersNumber1) October 21, 2015
Oduwa limped off at halftime of the match, and Rangers manager Mark Warburton was rightfully incensed:
"You pay your money to watch people like Nathan Oduwa. He was asking for some better protection. We want games to be entertaining and for fans to enjoy it. Nathan's one of those players who gets you off your seat. It is frustrating watching the game. Talented players do need some protection. I'm not saying special treatment, but look after them. Some of the tackles were inappropriate.
It's a challenge for him and he'll need to learn to deal with it. It's part of his learning and development. He'll find a solution to it but right now it's more than frustrating for him.
"The first tackle on Nathan came after about 25 seconds and that was followed by four or five swiftly after that. He's got bruising to his ankle and foot and I just think it was frustrating, to be polite. Nathan has got some knocks. His ankle, foot thigh, shin, neck, nose. You name it, he's bruised (there)."
It's not just Livingston. Apparently Andy Russell, who plays for rival second division club Berwick, tweeted that Oduwa was a "clown" and a "big man" and deserved his hard challenges. Russell has since deleted the tweet and suspended his account. (Never tweet, kids.)
There are two schools of thought at play here. One is the thought that all young players probably need to have the crap kicked out of them at least once on loan as they're developing so they know what it's like to be a target for opposing defenses. The other is that their parent club has an obligation to protect its skill players from harm, or those players could be seriously injured and, hence, no longer skill players. I lean toward the second option. If the end result of playing in the Scottish second division is that Oduwa learns not to use skill moves against opposing defenders, well that's entirely the wrong lesson to learn.
Warburton is the manager of Rangers and he's known to be a friend of Tottenham, having helped develop Alex Pritchard at Brentford last season. He's undoubtedly the right manager to get the best out of Oduwa, but if Oduwa's going to the holy hell beat out of him from an entire freakin' division of players then maybe it's time to bring him home.
No word yet on the extent of Oduwa's injury. Hopefully it's not serious and he can very quickly go back to making Scottish clodders look like chumps.