Oba Martins Should Improve Under Keegan

Kevin Keegan will soon get to meet Oba Martins, as the Nigerian prepares to come home from the African Cup of Nations.


Oba Martins – on his way back to meet Keegan

Martins is well known in African football but missed Nigeria’s last two games after not performing all that well in their first couple of games, in the African Cup of Nations. It’s a disappointing result for Nigeria, being eliminated as they were in group play, and it remains to be seen if their German manager Berti Vogts will keep his job.

Martins still leads Newcastle’s goal-scoring charts, although Michael Owen is now closing in and now has 6 goals to Oba’s 7 goals.

The former Inter Milan star seemed to like playing under Big Sam, at least at first, but then when he was played out right in that awful 4-3-3 formation, we think he may have privately soured on playing out there. But who can blame him?

He did rather surprisingly criticize his former manager, when Sam Allardyce was replaced by Keegan early last month. Oba says Sam didn’t talk to him much, but that will not happen under Keegan. However, we’re not sure how many games Oba will get with Kevin, since he has supported Michael Owen to the hilt, and even made him Newcastle’s new captain. But Keegan may even play Oba up front with Michael – we’ll just have to wait and see.

Martins talked to the Newcastle Journal today:

“I cannot say I have good memories of Allardyce’s time,” “I definitely think he should have played me more. Will it be good to have a fresh start?”

“If something is not right you must change it. I don’t know why he never picked me, but he never said anything to me. I believe Kevin Keegan can help my game.”

We’ll have to see how Keegan handles Oba, but it will be important to keep the 23 year-old happy at the club, because we think he has lots of football development still left in him, and when he’s achieved that, he should be a frightening player to the opposition.

And it’s his speed that will interest Keegan, as he works through the squad he has inherited from Big Sam, to see what each player can offer the team. Kevin must have been just a little disappointed with the displays of Smith and Ameobi up front so far, and we wonder if the two of them are good enough to remain at Newcastle. We think not, but expect Oba to get much better as time goes on.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

30 comments so far

  • rem

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:51 AM

    Comment #1

    i hated that he was playing on the right. hopefully kk can given martins the confidence to keep scoring!

    (1st post btw)

  • Leo*

    Feb 5, 2008 at 10:52 AM

    Comment #2

    oba goals will score when he comes back, he will be hungry to prove doubters wrong i am sure of that…

    owen and martins up front will work well i think, i just hope that keegan can instil some confidence in him and maybe a bit of football know how

  • Martin

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:00 AM

    Comment #3

    I think Oba and Owen are too similar and it will be interesting to see where KK plays them. Oba was wasted out on the right when SA was in charge. I just don’t see where Smith has a future at Newcastle unless to replace Butt as he only has one year left on his contract. Smith gives 100% and you cant fault that but he just doesn’t contribute anything to the game unless you count getting booked.

  • Lasse R

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:05 AM

    Comment #4

    Not even get me started on Shola. Im so tired of the “ifs”, “whens” and “hows” when talking about him. He sucks big time and that is it. I will never understand why the managers cant see that?!

    And about Oba: Berti Vogts did the only right thing. Letting Oba sit out until he improves both skills and attitude.

  • Doctapaul

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #5

    OBA and EMO – how to get it to work….

    Tactically, instead of Given hoofing the ball up field to two vertically challenged forwards – the two full backs stay wide and deep. Given rolls it to one or tuther.

    We draw their midfield toward us and create space either between their midfield and back line or behind their back line.

    Either Oba or EMO come deep. We pass the ball thru not over – into space.

    Full backs stay wide in line with the ball when we are in possession and overlap when prompted by the pass (Arsenal are amazing at this simple tactic)

    Simple stuff that the taems at the top are wonderful at.

  • Joe Aussie

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Comment #6

    With all the change and upheaval that has been going on does anyone know if Newcastle had any Scouts at the African Cup of Nations? PS:Great website Ed,keep up the good work!

  • GM

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Comment #7

    Best news ever, sheff wed are trying to sign ameobi the plank. please god take him away he is Crap witha capital “C”

    I hope kk plays owen and oba, i don tthink the 2 are too alike and it will give us so much more attacking influence on games as oba is yards quicker than owen and far better (yet still a bit rough around the edges) than smith or vikuka the pie man

  • JP from Gibraltar

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:19 AM

    Comment #8

    Martins will benefit from Keegan especially when Keegan knows how to put the ball in the net. He can give a few tips on turning, first touch, awareness and how to make the most of his pace. Then Martins would be an amazing player.

  • A geordiedoonsooth

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:23 AM

    Comment #9

    Why is everyone getting so excited about Martins coming back. He can’t trap a bag of wet cement & has a touch like a rapist. He’s fast but Malcom MacDonald he ain’t. I can’t see him playing instead of Owen.

  • JP from Gibraltar

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:23 AM

    Comment #10

    I believe Owen and martins would be an interesting partnership but we could also try 3 up front with Viduka leading the line and Owen and martins just behind him recieving Viduka´s flick ons.

  • GM

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:25 AM

    Comment #11

    I’d rather oba than smith any day of the week, with proper coaching from kk I agree I think he can refine his play and become very good for the team.

  • Graeme

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #12

    Martins has had a good rest having done sod all at the ANC. He should be rareing to go.

    Perhaps they could try playing to his strength – his speed, instead of to his weakness – his lack of height!!! Not exactly rocket science, is it???

  • Kash2

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    Comment #13

    @DoctaPaul – I hate it when Given hoofs it upfield. He always does it even when someone comes short. How many times do Arsenal hit it upfield??????

    To use EMO and OM effectively, then we’ve got to keep the ball on the deck most of the time. Fair enough getting on the wings and crossing, but aimlessly crossing from deep is a waste for both strikers. Look at Arsenal, there FB’s overlap quite often. They’re always looking to hit the byline.

    If KK can get Emre consistent and we may need to drop Butt as he’s giving the ball away too often. N’Zogbia’s and Milners passing needs to improve, but they can be told to hit the byline and get it in!

  • Doctapaul

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:33 AM

    Comment #14

    Well said Kash2,

    IMO consider playing Zog and Baye as Arsenal type wing backs.

    We could even play 3-5-2 at home with Taylor, Faye and cacapa at the back. Butt holding the lock position allowing Emre and Barton to do the box-to box work.

    should we choose to revert back to 442 then we can switch out Faye or Butt for Milner.

    Just floating ideas here

  • Kash2

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #15

    N’Zogbia is a liability at LB. Especially at the end of the game. He always gets sucked out of position, he’s more at home on the Left wing and seems to track the FB running at him too. KK will always play 442. My team would be this

    Beye Taylor Faye Enrique
    Milner Butt Emre N’Zogbia
    Owen Martins

  • JP from Gibraltar

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:50 AM

    Comment #16

    We could also try:


    Beye Cacapa Taylor

    Milner N´Zogbia Duff

    Owen Martins

    I think this would be the most offensive team we can put out.

  • Kash2

    Feb 5, 2008 at 11:58 AM

    Comment #17

    @JP – The play would be far to congested to playing that formation. Where would you get the width from?

    The good thing about 442 is that you can play posession football and always penetrate down the wings and through the channels. You’re always stretching the opposition…… In Theory!

  • Kev

    Feb 5, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #18

    Oba in my opinion is extremley over rated.
    Cash in on him and get someone better in the summer.

  • Dave

    Feb 5, 2008 at 12:05 PM

    Comment #19

    Am I the only one who thinks N´Zogbia / Martins up front would be an interesting combo. Speed, skill and an eye for goal…. Duff & Milner on the wings supplying the ammo for those two I can’t see it going wrong…

  • Andreas

    Feb 5, 2008 at 12:21 PM

    Comment #20

    @ A Geordie….et al, it shouldn’t be a question of Martins INSTEAD of Owen, it should be Martins AND Owen.

    Personally I think that they would be a good partnership and I do not agree with the common view that they are to similar. Aye, they are both short but the have different strenghts and weaknesses and play rather different from eachother.

  • ToonRich

    Feb 5, 2008 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #21

    Mo & Oba can and will get chance to play upfront together…Why do people insist they are a-like?? MO has lost his pace, where as Oba has bags of it! MO can find space and link play almost Rooney like, where Oba likes to run into space and a plus, the can both head.

  • Neil

    Feb 5, 2008 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #22

    Dave that would certainly be interesting but for me Zog is a midfielder/winger whatever you want to call them these days. I also like Emré however to have him in the team you need a rock solid defending midfielder and whilst Butt is a decent squad player he ain’t no regular starter in my book! Fitting our players in is quite hard however I think JP from Gibraltar is really Sam Allardyce in disguise with a formation like that!!!!

  • Bill F

    Feb 5, 2008 at 2:05 PM

    Comment #23

    I hate to be the grit in the oyster, but imo KK should give the Owen/Carroll combo a run out. I don’t think the Oba/Owen pair will work although I would love to be wrong. I reckon Carroll will provide more chances for Owen to feed on, a’lah Heskey.


    Feb 5, 2008 at 3:20 PM

    Comment #24

    Oba will be the key to hold Zoggy. left power side with zoggy and MARTINS will be outstanding! Backup DUFF is also a good thing.

    on the right MILNER and OWEN should do their magic. What a fantastic prospect? The two “teams” must do more trainings sessions together to know each other in sleep and then see what we get out of them…

  • Dan

    Feb 5, 2008 at 3:35 PM

    Comment #25

    can anyone else see a tino in martins, because i can, expect the unexpeted. we undoubtbly have a top 6 sqaud. we just dont play well, and can anyone else see that owen is finnally commited, he is coming out and stating his desire to play well and score goals for us. this is my team for villa game and hopefully rest of the season given
    beye taylor faye n’zogbia
    milner emre barton duff
    owen martins

    what everyone else think?

  • big pea ov the weab

    Feb 5, 2008 at 3:37 PM

    Comment #26

    hope hes right but a cant see him improveing sell n get something bk

  • Rem

    Feb 5, 2008 at 3:54 PM

    Comment #27

    Everyone always says that owen and oba are to similar, but they arent that similar. Owen makes spaces and runs and gets in to space. Oba gets the ball then legs it or waits for lucky bounces.
    i think with the pace of them two and there finishing, that most defences wont be able to handle them.
    Problem is on sunday we had great spells of passing, but then it would go back to the defence and a long ball would be played and we’d lose it.
    At least this way well have to play it along the floor, with viduka we dont.

  • arctoa

    Feb 5, 2008 at 7:39 PM

    Comment #28

    Martins and Owen can work together up front, we just need to stop hoofing the ball forward all the time. I’m a believer in keepers quickly rolling a ball to a full-back to start a counter-attack instead of whacking it into the centre-circle all the time. Playing the ball along the floor will work for these two as they’re both excellent with the ball at their feet, even if Martins sometimes does run into trouble he has the pace to get out of it again. Smith and Ameobi have no future at the club, and Viduka can only ever be used sparingly. As it happens he’s good with the ball at his feet too, despite being a bit on the portly side.

  • Ian

    Feb 11, 2008 at 6:51 PM

    Comment #29

    I love the way everyone shouts that Owen doesnt get the service that is why he doesnt score and why we arent winning. Well Martins did and regularly so how many would he get if he had the service and a decent striker alongside him???
    I think we need to try something daring, Nzogbia and Martins at the front, they link up the best of any two players on the pitch and even when they are amongst the oppositions players, Duff, Smith, Gerami and Milner, then Edgar left back and make up the other three with the usuals, if we want a change at the front drop Nzogbia back into his normal position, Duff off and Owen or Viduka on.
    That would be the most dangerous line up at the front, both know how to get past people and score.

  • Doctapaul

    Feb 11, 2008 at 10:46 PM

    Comment #30

    I’m sorry Ian, I’m going to disagree respectfully with you. Michael Own is the best striker there is who is able to wear an England shirt.

    Oba, as much as I like him, is not in the same league.


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