The madness of Newcastle United is best summed up by Fabricio Coloccini.
Reports in the past have said that Coloccini has an excellent relationship with Mike Ashley and many fans believed that it was the owner who intervened at the start of the season, when the Argentine defender was unbelievably given an extended contract AND retained the captaincy.
Coloccini had a brilliant season in 2011/12 and was rightfully named in the PFA team of the year but since then he has been somewhere between average and shocking.
Halfway through that next (2012/13) season, Captain Coloccini shamefully tried to leave in January with Newcastle deep in relegation trouble.
He eventually stayed at St James Park and the fans were unbelievably supportive despite what he’d attempted to do mid-season with the team and club on the brink of disaster.
These next four years though have seen the Newcastle defence consistently one of the worst, if not THE worst, in the Premier League and yet again – only a woeful Villa have conceded more than the Coloccini ‘led’ defence.
A freak accident was reported whilst the players were in La Manga, Coloccini claimed to have picked up a minor calf injury when taking part in a warm down after the Lillestrom friendly, though he had played no part on that game.
Coloccini was expected to be out for a few weeks at most but now almost 10 weeks later there has been no sign of him.
In the Swansea match programme, Coloccini gave the following as the reason for his non-return:
“I am desperate to come back, so was pushing as hard as possible…maybe it was too fast, but that was my decision because I wanted to be early and ahead of schedule.
“Now I have to take more time but I am still trying to get fit as soon as possible, so that I can get out on the pitch and help the team in the final games.”
It is a sad reflection on how bad things have got at the club, that many fans were sceptical about exactly how bad this injury was/is and how desperate the Captain of the club is to get back and play, with relegation looming.
With only 18 days now until the final game of the season against Spurs, Rafa Benitez has given his latest update after being asked whether he though Coloccini would play again this season:
“I hope so but the setback was what I was suspecting and I’m not very optimistic at the moment.”
It is all a bit sad and depressing when this latest news on Newcastle’s Captain and best paid player will be met with a big ‘so what?’ from supporters.
I haven’t spoken to or heard anyone who would break up the promising Lascelles and Mbemba partnership to accommodate the Argentine defender, whilst the return of Kevin Mbabu to full fitness will have cheered many more fans than if Coloccini had returned, despite the Swiss defender having only started two Premier League matches so far.
Newcastle were desperate for a whole new look defence last summer, with only Daryl Janmaat a (then) popular choice to keep his place.
Despite this, only Chancel Mbemba was recruited and once again Newcastle were left relying on the likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara – none of them Premier League quality in my opinion, unless possibly if Dummett is played at centre-half.
It was criminal the fact that not a single defender was brought in during January, despite four players and around £30m spent, the best Ashley and his minions did was a bizarre last minute half-hearted attempt to bring back Jose Enrique on a short-term deal.
These decisions made to look laughable when very quickly it became apparent that two January signings, Saivet and Doumbia, aren’t even good enough to get on the bench!
Next season, whatever division Newcastle are in, unless real quality is brought in it would seem a no-brainer to give Lascelles and Mbemba the chance to forge a partnership that could stand United in good stead for years, especially with them being aged only 22 and 21.
As for Coloccini? That extra year on his contract is yet another expensive blunder from Mike Ashley, as along with the likes of Gouffran, Riviere, Saivet and others, Newcastle will be stuck with him as no club will take over anything close to his wages considering just how poor the United Captain has been.