Blog: Peter Odemwingie – The Lokomotiv outcast

West Bromwich Albion’s new hotshot Peter Odemwingie has so far enjoyed almost universal adulation from the Albion fans. Greg Simkins looks back at why this wasn’t the case at Lokomotiv Moscow, before discussing what the future holds for the September Player of the Month.

“Thanks West Brom” read the banner that the Lokomotiv fans held up to commemorate Peter Odemwingie’s departure. The message, adorned with a racist image of a banana brought an unsavoury end to the Nigerian’s three-year stay in Moscow, one in which the fans believed that he failed to live up to his $14 million price tag. A ratio of 21 goals in 75 starts suggests that Odemwingie was effective, while falling short of ever being prolific; evidently a trait that certain fans felt deserved their xenophobic ire.

Just over one month later, the Lokomotiv reject has completed a remarkable rebirth as a prolific fan favourite. His three goals in five games – three match winning goals too – have endeared him to the West Brom faithful, so much so that they commendably financed their own banner: a picture of the forward celebrating his first Albion goal, accompanied by the words “Thanks Lokomotiv”.

Odemwingie has not just silenced the racist section of the Lokomotiv supporters, he has caused the bookmakers to drastically re-evaluate their prices on West Brom finally casting off the label of “yo-yo” club and securing Premier League survival. His arrival – in the immediate aftermath of a customary drubbing at Chelsea – seemingly revitalised the Albion squad, the limp Championship outfit that were steamrollered by Chelsea have metamorphosed into a slick, skilful Premier League side, one which taught Arsenal a footballing lesson in their own backyard.

Neither Odemwingie nor Di Matteo should, however, get too far ahead of themselves. Both justifiably picked up the September awards for the league’s outstanding player and manager, but a poor October would see the Baggies plunge back down the table into the relegation scrap many predicted.

Nevertheless, Peter Odemwingie is a man in top form, riding the crest of an exultant wave, and – after his nightmare in Moscow – who is to say he doesn’t deserve it?

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