Marvelous Nakamba’s struggle for game time at Aston Villa is well-chronicled.
The Zimbabwean midfielder has not featured for the claret and blue this season and the general consensus is that he has fallen down the pecking order in the Villa engine room.
In the early stages of Steven Gerrard’s tenure at Villa Park, Nakamba was one of the standout players at the Midlands side.
The Hwange-bred midfielder was superb in Gerrard’s first month in the Villa dugout and deservedly voted the club’s player of the month for November.
A knee injury against Liverpool in December, which ruled him out for nearly four months, stopped Nakamba in his tracks.
Gerrard’s description of Nakamba’s injury situation mirrored a huge setback.
“The best way to put it is that we’ve had confirmation that he has got a knee injury,” the former Liverpool captain said after Villa’s 2-0 win over Norwich City and Carrow Road on December 14.
“We’re really going have a serious chat tomorrow in terms of whether we want him to have surgery or whether we’ll manage the injury conservatively.
“We’ll make that decision in the next 24 hours but he’s certainly going to be missing for some time because it’s a serious injury.
“We need to now make the best decision which is really frustrating and disappointing because he has been outstanding but we’ll give him every bit of support and care to get him back as safe as possible.
“We’ve got a rough idea but I don’t want to get wrong and I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on the medical staff but he’ll certainly be missing for a number of months,” added Gerrard.
Incredibly, 10 months on, things have drastically changed for the former Club Brugge man and the consensus is that he is not doing enough to earn a place in the Villa team.
While that may be true, Nakamba’s situation needs to be looked at through different lenses.
Is Gerrard getting the best out of Aston Villa players?
There was a time when Ollie Watkins was a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
But now, the former Brentford man is no where near the Three Lions squad ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Tyrone Mings has also been a regular for England since making his international debut in 2019, but has of late been omitted by Southgate.
Danny Ings is another player with a lot of potential but Gerrard has failed to bring the best out of him.
Skipper John McGinn has struggled for form in the Premier League this season.
The Scottish international took over the armband from Mings before the start of the 2022/23 campaign but has been a pale shadow of his former self.
Surprisingly, McGinn has been at his best while on international duty for Scotland.
So in the case of Nakamba, what has changed in the last 10 months?
Suggestions of ‘lack of focus’ on the part of the soft-spoken midfielder have come out, with some even going to the extent of blaming his manager Munya Taderera.
But Nakamba was with Taderera when the midifielder was at the peak of his powers last year, so what has changed?
Him purchasing top of the range vehicles at a lightning-fast pace has also been misunderstood for ‘lack of focus’ yet few are aware that he now has a car rental business in the United Kingdom.
It’s easy to blame everyone and everything, except Gerrard.