Kelechi Iheanacho and the Benefits of low media attention
Posted by Kieran Cross | Published on September 24, 2016
Manchester City’s young forward Kelechi Iheanacho is undoubtedly one of the brightest talents in the Premier League at this moment in time. Bursting onto the scene last season, the Nigerian has continued his fine form into the early stages of this season. However, many City fans believe that Kelechi is not getting the attention from the media that he deserves. Be that as it may, I feel that this lack of attention may benefit Iheanacho’s career in the long term, and may result in Kelechi living up to his potential. Here, I will examine some examples of media spotlight having a negative impact on the career of a young player, and explain how Kelechi’s low-key status may allow him to develop into a top draw player.
On the “red side” of Manchester, Memphis Depay is a player that arrived from Holland with a huge amount of expectation attached to his name and an even larger amount of money spent on him. However, this expectation of instant results appears to have got to him, with Memphis struggling for game time and being poor when he has played. It could be argued that this is a result of the expectations imposed on him by the infamously fickle British media, which massively built up his arrival before ruthlessly criticizing him after every game. However, Depay is only young and there is still time for him to rebuild his career as he is undoubtedly highly talented, although his short and disappointing United career appears to be coming to an end.
Another player that the media has held back is one of Kelechi’s City teammates: Raheem Sterling. After moving to Manchester for roughly £49 million, the media billed Sterling as the next great English player, the player that was going to win England Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018. However, after a somewhat average domestic campaign, the media swiftly turned against him, criticizing his every move. This turned even nastier after a disappointing Euro’s, with Sterling taking the brunt of the blame for England’s shortcomings, despite of the tactical ineptitude of Roy Hodgson, as well as Harry Kane (amongst others) being just as disappointing as Sterling.
However, it is not all doom and gloom, as Sterling has been in great form in the early stages of this season, perhaps showing that he may live up to the somewhat unfair expectations put upon him by the media. However, this list of players that have suffered at the hands of the fickle British media is not limited to just Sterling and Depay; players such as David Bentley, Joel Campbell, Robinho and even Ricardo Quaresma have also failed to light up the Premier League after huge media fanfare at the early stages of their careers.
On the flip side to Iheanacho, Marcus Rashford seems to be getting huge amounts of attention from the media compared to Kelechi. This may be because he plays for England, or because he plays for Manchester United, who (with all respect to Man City) are the bigger brand internationally, with more fans and the increased amount of media attention that comes with that. This just goes to show the selective nature of the media in the modern day. Hopefully, Rashford won’t be impacted by this sudden increase in media attention, as he undoubtedly has a great career ahead of him.
The lack of attention from the media may be beneficial to Iheanacho in my opinion, despite complaints from the Manchester City faithful. Without the crushing pressure imposed on players such as Memphis and Sterling, Kelechi will be allowed to develop at his own pace, without having to suffer the criticism and subsequent lack of confidence suffered by many young players, such as the ones I have mentioned here. Hopefully, this will lead to Kelechi having a successful career and living up to his undeniable potential.