Steve McClaren has been quick to sing the praises of Cheick Tiote.
The Head Coach saying he couldn’t wait to get the Ivory Coast midfielder into the centre of midfield.
With Newcastle struggling so badly and Vurnon Anita so poor, McClaren dropped the Dutchman and threw a half-fit Cheick Tiote into the team against Norwich and then persevered with the Tiote/Colback partnership against Sunderland, despite that area looking yet again the weakest part of the team.
Colback’s injury against the mackems has then left the United Head Coach little choice but to play BOTH the struggling Anita and an off the pace Tiote against Stoke and Bournemouth.
Yet again in these two matches the game has passed the midfield duo by, with only a very good display by Rob Elliot stealing three points away from Bournemouth.
When Steve McClaren talks up Cheick Tiote, he invariably talks about their days together at FC Twente and how great he thought he was then etc etc.
In their final season together at the Dutch club, it was the year when FC Twente won their first ever league title, finishing one point ahead of Ajax.
Not sure why I never checked this out before but I have always gone along with this story of Cheick Tiote being a key part of that title winning team and it being a bit of a scoop for Newcastle to land him in summer 2010.
However, a quick check of the stats shows that Steve McClaren only picked Cheick Tiote 10 times in his starting 11 in that title winning season, with only two league starts after 21 December.
In those 10 starts, Tiote was subbed in six of them as well.
It is not as though he was injured either, as the midfielder was used 18 times as a late sub, generally in the very late stages of games.
At the start of that 2009/10 season, Cheick Tiote was 23 years old, so it is not as though he was just a kid either – especially when you consider that Newcastle bought two 20 year olds, a 22 year old and a 24 year old this summer and put them all straight into the first team.
Steve McClaren inherited Cheick Tiote at FC Twente and it is clear that he only saw him as a squad player when he was there.
However, the Newcastle boss tries to convince us now that he is a player who he really rated and who can now be a key player in the far higher level of the Premier League.
This is despite Tiote being appalling for the last few years and then coming into the Newcastle team now despite looking nowhere near match fit, if h will ever be that again.
I understand Steve McClaren has to ‘accentuate the positives’ as he calls it but there are limits as to what you can say to fans and the media and still retain credibility.
Telling us that Cheick Tiote is the answer in centre midfield will not convince any rational person and hopefully behind the scenes, Steve McClaren is making clear that it is essential Newcastle bring in at least one quality central midfielder, preferably two, in January.
(To see who the fans voted as the Newcastle players they would like to keep go HERE)
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