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When Victor Anichebe Met Michael Thomas

It’s amazing what happens when things are taken out of context.

The excruciating thing is that they both did exactly the same strange neck dance. Their actions before were different, the games themselves were utterly different, but that weird, spasmodic neck move? That was the same.

In both cases it was a dance borne from emotion shaved to the bone, they both looked like fish, slapping about on the deck, writhing for oxygen.

For a split second Arsenal‘s Michael Thomas and Everton’s Victor Anichebe shared the same space. Then just as quickly, they went their separate ways.

Watching Michael Thomas’ goal is always amazing. Real football has the ability to make Roy of the Rovers a dirge. Thomas won Arsenal the league in the dying embers of the last game of the season. Against their title rivals, and our perennial rivals. At Anfield.

After his unbelievable last ditch goal, Thomas rolls off in ecstasy,  a man in a barrel about to jump into a Niagara Falls of emotion. Thomas flits between circus cartwheels, and the mad uncontrollable palsy of freebased happiness. Towards the end of his Anfield petite mort he propels himself into the air seemingly using his neck alone, a mad move completely anaesthetised by his joy.

The evil twin of the Michael Thomas’ wonder goal is Victor Anichebe’s injury. The backdrop itself couldn’t be more different. It is St James’ Park in a cold February, half time is looming. Slow “to me, to you” exchanges by midfield Sunday drivers are punctured by Vic Anichebe tracking back, winning the ball, and dribbling forward.

Kevin Nolan leaps feet first on Vic’s right shin, and the youngster writhes in pain, reprising Thomas’ neck spasm from twenty years earlier, this time not through joy, but pain. Vic pulls his entire body up with his neck like a huge twisted girder. Physio Mick Rathbone says the sheer size of Anichebe’s legs is what stopped the tackle from destroying his career, later the Nigerian describes it as the most painful experience of his life. Kevin Nolan is dismissed and apologises at half time. 

The game is smeared with violence, we clash like police and thieves. Ameobi rams Tim Howard and the ball into the net, Rodwell is bullied and buffeted, and Anichebe is crippled. Our Spanish laureate Mikel Arteta (yes, we used to love him) is injured too, although not from blunt tackling, just from an awkward fall.

Michael Thomas took the ball on a crazed bumpy joy ride all the way to the back of the net, Anichebe’s career has been in purgatory ever since Kevin Nolan’s studs hit his shin. For a second though, they are removed from their context in the same neck propelled somersault, agony and ecstasy brought together.

A few days ago, Victor Anichebe was asked a silly question: “Would u sign for Everton if they went in for you?”

His answer? “I would run down the dock road naked.”

He doesn’t have to come back though. He doesn’t even have to be that good. He’s a blue though, just like me. 

  1. Wasn’t the injury that finished him, was the fact he bulked up way to much, looked more suited to the wwf than football. And for someone so big he was a massive tart
  2. Anichebe had all the tools to be a top striker, pace, strength, height. He just had literally zero application. Fell over any time he made a pass, had a shot, or an opposition player as much as looked at him, and to add to that his movement was terrible.

    His injury finished his career but I remember vividly him scoring during a European game when we had just bought Yakubu and one bloke saying ‘why did we waste our money on Yakubu when this guy is better’. It became quite clear over the seasons that followed exactly why we did.

  3. We really overrate a lot of our youngsters just look at Davies now for the proof. “If Vaughan wasn’t so injury prone he’d have been brilliant”. Well if I wasn’t so crap at football I’d have been our best number 9 since Dixie. Same logic.
  4. Spot on Zat, I thought Vaughny had everything required to be a top striker, quick, brave and tough, but sadly, his luck with injuries was abysmal.

    They aren’t the qualities of a top striker these days. Vaughan was only ever going to be a journeyman striker IMO.

  5. Uhh? What?

    Big Vic was always dross. I know Joe Royle spoke about him in very unflattering terms at a dinner once (lazy, bad attitude etc)

    Also who hates Arteta? What a weird article.

    In fairness royle did the same with a couple of players that other managers disagreed with

  6. Rate these from having the best potential to the worst if you would be so kind ? I’m really interested to see if opinions differ vastly .

    Stuart Barlow
    Danny Cadamateri
    Phillip Jevons
    Big Vic
    Vaughny

    Stuart ‘Jigsaw’ Barlow – could have been great if he could’ve actually slot
    Vaughny
    Big Vic
    Cadamateri
    Jevons

  7. It was an absolutely disgusting challenge, more akin to assault than an attempt to win a football.

    Players who do that to a fellow professional when there is clear intent to injure, should be forced to sit out their careers for the length of time the player on the receiving end has to. Without pay too.

    I was referring to the Arteta injury not the Anichebe one. You are right it was a disgraceful challenge. A sending off and resulting 3 game ban doesn’t fit the crime in this case.

  8. Spoke with Vic at the beginning of his career at the time he was scoring in Europe. Sound feller. I think he was quite easily the best player out of all these players mentioned in this thread. Including Vaughan, never mind Michael Branch ffs.

    We got decent money for him as well, selling him to West Brom, where he didn’t do to well but was still playing at Prem level iirc. Then he continued to play at Prem level when he went to Sunderland, and the Sunderland fans rated him, with him scoring a few goals.

    Vaughan had to drop down to league 1 before he started scoring, and then he got a move to Sunderland in the Championship and he couldn’t hack it at that level, and I think Sunderland binned him off pretty quickly.

  9. Rate these from having the best potential to the worst if you would be so kind ? I’m really interested to see if opinions differ vastly .

    Stuart Barlow
    Danny Cadamateri
    Phillip Jevons
    Big Vic
    Vaughny

    Michael Branch
    Nick Chadwick
    Franny Jeffers
    DCL

    It’s really the hope that does you.

  10. Forgot he got injured against Newcastle. I’m not sure it was this result of a bad challenge though.

    It was an absolutely disgusting challenge, more akin to assault than an attempt to win a football.

    Players who do that to a fellow professional when there is clear intent to injure, should be forced to sit out their careers for the length of time the player on the receiving end has to. Without pay too.

  11. Forgot he got injured against Newcastle. I’m not sure it was this result of a bad challenge though.

    Nah he was controlling a throw in and twisted his knee on his standing foot, but he was never the same again. Before that injury I wouldn’t have sold him for 50m by the end I was happy with 10m .

  12. Rate these from having the best potential to the worst if you would be so kind ? I’m really interested to see if opinions differ vastly .

    Stuart Barlow
    Danny Cadamateri
    Phillip Jevons
    Big Vic
    Vaughny

    Just turn the list upside down

  13. The FA should have completely made up a new rule after that tackle to ban Nolan for a considerable length of time. It was clearly premeditated and I got the feeling after the fact that even though he "apologised", he was never really remorseful.
  14. He really wasn’t, when he came through he offered a goal threat from the bench, was a decent target man and had a knack of scoring important goals.
    After the injury he seemed to play within himself

    I wouldn’t say the injury affected him too much. He played very much the same when he returned. There were times when he was useful for us but we were a very good team and that probably helped him look better than he was. Once he moved to West Brom, his limitations were very clear.

  15. Anichebe was always useless, Vaughan though i thought could have gotten to the upper echelons of quality forwards in the league.

    He really wasn’t, when he came through he offered a goal threat from the bench, was a decent target man and had a knack of scoring important goals.
    After the injury he seemed to play within himself

  16. Anichebe was always useless, Vaughan though i thought could have gotten to the upper echelons of quality forwards in the league.

    I don’t think he was totally useless. Don’t forget how young he was at the time. That europa league goal vs metalist seemed to kick him on a bit. Then shortly after it was all over unfortunately

  17. Whitehurst on Bracewell 86 and Nolan on Anichebe. Although both totally different players and standard of footballers if I’m being honest. What they did have in common, their careers were effectively ended whilst playing up at Newcastle.

    Arteta too

  18. Ah Big Vic. One of those players I really wanted to come good, despite the evidence of my own eyes. Either way, that Nolan tackle was a shocker. The embodiment of Allardyce mentality as a footballer.

    With not to mention more than a hint of indoctrinated RS poison thrown in for good measure.

  19. Ah Big Vic. One of those players I really wanted to come good, despite the evidence of my own eyes. Either way, that Nolan tackle was a shocker. The embodiment of Allardyce mentality as a footballer.
  20. Whitehurst on Bracewell 86 and Nolan on Anichebe. Although both totally different players and standard of footballers if I’m being honest. What they did have in common, their careers were effectively ended whilst playing up at Newcastle.

    If I remember right, anichebe come back game was against Nolan, the kopite rat, off the ball he kicked him on his leg he broke , could not believe fa ignored that.

  21. Spot on Zat, I thought Vaughny had everything required to be a top striker, quick, brave and tough, but sadly, his luck with injuries was abysmal.

    Rate these from having the best potential to the worst if you would be so kind ? I’m really interested to see if opinions differ vastly .

    Stuart Barlow
    Danny Cadamateri
    Phillip Jevons
    Big Vic
    Vaughny

  22. Anichebe was always useless, Vaughan though i thought could have gotten to the upper echelons of quality forwards in the league.

    Spot on Zat, I thought Vaughny had everything required to be a top striker, quick, brave and tough, but sadly, his luck with injuries was abysmal.

  23. Imagine if he and Vaughan weren’t so injury prone.

    Not that he was. He just had niggles. Then that horror injury :(

    Anichebe was always useless, Vaughan though i thought could have gotten to the upper echelons of quality forwards in the league.

  24. Whitehurst on Bracewell 86 and Nolan on Anichebe. Although both totally different players and standard of footballers if I’m being honest. What they did have in common, their careers were effectively ended whilst playing up at Newcastle.
  25. Imagine if he and Vaughan weren’t so injury prone.

    Not that he was. He just had niggles. Then that horror injury :(

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