At times last season, it was embarrassing to see the gap between Papiss Cisse and our often pedestrian midfield, particularly when for the umpteenth time in a match the ball would be hoofed up to the number nine to try and win the ball and protect it before that pedestrian midfield sauntered up to support him.
Of course when I say ‘try and win the ball and protect it’, that totally isn’t Cisse’s game and his efforts to do so were less than enthusiastic. Having said that, the most important thing for any team must surely be to play to the strengths of your strikers, or in our case ‘striker’ last season.
Even worse were the attempts to play Cisse wide right, at least when you had Demba Ba through the middle you could understand the trade-off up to a point. However, once Ba had left for the bright lights, it was horrific to see our best/only chance of goals playing out wide to accommodate Shola through the middle, on a number of occasions.
Looking forward though, Alan Pardew is clearly desperate for the day when he can pair Papiss Cisse with another quality striker, this is what the manager had to say yesterday as we await the identity of who this mystery forward will end up being;
“It is unusual but nice to be able to talk about Papiss as a football player after all that’s gone on. I must say the 2 days of training he has put in have surprised me.
He’s looked in really good fettle and will have at least half a game at St.Mirren.
I’m pleased it’s all been sorted and we’ll bond round him and support him. He’s an important player so we’ll try and get the best out of him.
It was a taxing situation for him but he’s fine, we’re a resilient bunch in football and you have to bounce back in our world, or you’ll be in trouble.
Papiss can play a big role for us this coming season and I fully expect him to kick on and make a positive contribution.
He was a little isolated at times last year, on his own up front, but if he can get a relationship going with whoever might play alongside him, I can see him thriving.”