By Paul Jones
Michael Obafemi has been told to clear his head and let his feet do the talking.
The sage advice has come from his Swansea City captain Matt Grimes, who knows what it is to have cluttered head space.
Obafemi was left out of the Swans’ squad for the weekend 1-0 win over QPR by head coach Russell Martin after the striker’s hopes of a £10m deadline day move to Burnley evaporated.
Martin claimed Obafemi’s head had been “filled with nonsense” but stuck with his other pursued striker Joel Piroe, who scored the game’s only goal.
Grimes was also a target for Leeds United and Fulham last season but said of Obafemi, “Michael is an unbelievable character in the dressing room but he needs to refocus and get his head around playing the way he was playing towards the back-end of last season.
“Everyone knows on his day he’s an unbelievable talent.
“It is difficult as a young lad when things are being said about you and it can lead to difficult times.
“He’s part of this group, he’s an integral part of this group, just like Joel is, and we’re much better for having him than not.”
Swansea’s win was only their second of the season and their first at home but followed weeks of uncertainty about the futures of both Piroe and Obafemi.
Piroe missed a penalty, but quickly put it behind him to score his third goal in as many games and his captain believes the Dutchman’s ability to focus on his current club is a lesson for Obafemi.
Grimes says of Piroe, “He’s a top lad and a top pro. Obviously there’s been a lot of noise around him this summer but he’s kept his head down and he’s got on with his work.
“He’s always top of the charts when it comes to running sprint distances, high intensity and he’s our main goal-scorer. So, he’s invaluable to the team and we’re pleased to have him.
“I don’t think it (the transfer speculation) affected him but it’s always difficult, I speak from personal experience when you’re linked here, there and everywhere and your future’s up in the air.
“He’ll be glad to be settled with the window shut and he’ll just be focusing on his performances. Like you’ve seen he’s a top-class player – obviously he missed the penalty but he bounced straight back with the goal. We’re very lucky to have him.
“It (the transfer window) has dragged a lot into this season, I think a lot of clubs and managers will be feeling it and it just leaves so many futures up in the air. Now that it’s shut we know our squad and we know what we’re capable of… I’m sure the results will pick up as well.”
Teams with the highest expected goals in the Championship this weekend:
1️⃣ Swansea – 3.01
2️⃣ Norwich – 2.34
3️⃣ West Brom – 2.07
4️⃣ Reading – 2.02
5️⃣ Bristol City – 1.93
6️⃣ Huddersfield – 1.81
7️⃣ Hull – 1.63
— The Second Tier (@secondtierpod) September 4, 2022
Grimes believes Swansea’s win – which has lifted them up to 18th spot in the Championship and only four points off the play-off positions – could prove a turning point.
“The win, a first win at home this season, was a long time coming and especially after a couple of disappointing times when we’ve given away the lead late on in games, especially Millwall up here… Stoke as well
“It was just good to see it out and get the three points.
“It’s been so difficult, a couple of results this season where we’ve felt like we’ve played well, we’ve dominated the game and not got what we deserved.
“I thought our performance was not as good as we’ve been today but the hunger and desire was there to keep the ball out of the back of our net, especially in the last 10-15 minutes and the Jack Army as well giving us that extra yard towards the end of the game.
“I just think the desire as well proves we do have the mentality to see out games, especially at home and when we don’t have the ball as much. It was just a collective, hard-fought win.”