The Week In Black and White: Sissoko: Go.
Sissokemon – Au Revoir to our little Pocket Monster.
It took a while but football finally caught up with the new craze sweeping the land.
All you need is a phone, some sort of data connection and time on your hands and you can play Sissokemon, the search for 30 million pounds worth of talent.
Now, NUFC fans have been playing for a long time, two years without a sight of anything remotely interesting and then in a flash many Sissokos were caught in the last few weeks of last season. Sissokos were then seen all over France in the summer and then they disappeared once again. Everton thought they had caught one on the Monday, but no. It turned up in London instead. And now the craze is over. And Newcastle United are 30 million richer.
The week in black and white started with the closing of the transfer window and the long-running saga of Moussa Sissoko came to a tedious conclusion. At first it looked like Everton was his destination, something Ronald Koemen suggested was set up ten days previously, but Sissoko went missing en route to Liverpool, ironic really given that it is usually in Liverpool that valuable stuff goes missing.
Moussa hadn’t gone missing of course, he’d simply not turned up, something entirely different, probably and he ended up in London to sign for Spurs. Sissoko himself claimed in L’equipe he’d always wanted to sign for Spurs, at least ever since he had stopped always wanting to sign for “the beautiful Arsenal”:
“I never went to Everton, it’s funny. I was watching TV, and I saw that a deal had been done with Everton and that I had signed for them. But I was in London, waiting to sign my contract [with Spurs].”
Well I’m glad to see he still had time to watch TV, it’ll give him the chance to get used to watching Tottenham from a chair because that is most likely what his role will be this season.
The opportunity to flog one of our underachieving players to a club which has regularly taken our best players, for about five times what he is worth, is some payback for the paltry sums we received for Gazza and Waddle in decades past. It is a transfer that looks great on paper for both clubs, Spurs have signed a Euro2016 finalist, NUFC have sold a player bought for a couple of million, who no longer wanted to play for the club and had generally flounced through the last couple of seasons, sold for a massive profit.
Our only regret is probably that we didn’t sell him for 30million straight after that Chelsea 3-2 three and a half years ago, thus saving ourselves the pain of watching a man wearing two sweatbands but needing neither.
Sissoko returned to the France squad to play most of their 0-0 draw with Belarus but if the week wasn’t great for Moussa and his international colleagues, one ex-Toon man had a dream international start, Sam Allardyce’s English breakfast getting off to a glorious start with a late 1-0 win against the might of Slovakia.
Although on the face of it, a 95th minute winner against 10 men wasn’t exactly what the nation had hoped for, Big Sam no doubt had his trousers round his ankles in the dressing room a few minutes later whilst trumpeting his tactical acumen.
After the win, the press said that it will no doubt take the new boss a while to stamp his mark on the England team but that doesn’t look to be the case to me, a last minute 0-1 win after playing for a draw all game has Allardyce written all over it.
Allardyce: Shoot from there one more time son and you’ll never play for England again
Elsewhere in international football, our new signing Daryl Murphy got a late winner for the Republic of Ireland and he was one of a couple of signings United made late in the day, Christian Atsu coming in on loan from Chelsea and left back Achraf Lazaar, a 3million signing from Palermo. Atsu is at his fifth club on loan since signing for Chelsea 3 years ago but even though he hasn’t yet found home he seemed pleased to be here, highlighting the toilets and transport as the main reasons he came:
“I’m very happy to be at Newcastle,” Atsu told the Newcastle website. “It’s a very big club. They have good facilities and I think Newcastle have one of the best coaches in the world.”
One player who won’t be using Tynedale Group Travel any time soon is Emmanuel Riviere, loaned out to Osasuna in La Liga on the Monday. An unlikely destination, traditionally the club have had teams that work hard and demand 100% effort, something for which Riviere was hardly renowned during his time on Tyneside.
On his way: the meandering Riviere
His debut on Saturday was typical Manu. After 61 minutes of ineffective meandering, our forward’s departure had an immediate effect on the game, Osasuna, now playing with 11 men, came back from 5-0 down to lose 5-2 and were also denied a third goal by some ludicrous refereeing. A home from home for Manu then, who can no doubt look forward to having his own private bench shipped from Tyneside to make his stay in northern Spain a little less traumatic.
Elsewhere in Spain, another ex-Mag was Living La Vida Loca, Jose Enrique trading 60k a week at Anfield for 60 euros a week in Zaragoza. Although his wages and the temperature in Zaragoza will be much different, Jose’s day to day existence won’t be much different, he didn’t play any part in their defeat to Levante on Sunday, no change from his normal day to day routine at Anfield.
So a week which started well for the Fatman as he trousered an unfathomable 30million, ended well for the rest of us with a well-deserved if rather nervy 0-2 victory in Derby. It was another typical Rafa performance though he’ll hope we give the ball away less and keep more of a grip on the game in future I’m sure.
Much like many other Mag correspondents this week, I was subjected to watching the game with no commentary in one of those bars abroad which shows 4 games at the same time on any one of 14 different TV screens, the commentary of the Liverpool v Leicester game blaring out to help me reminisce about bygone days, the industrious James Milner and the anonymous Gigi Wijnaldum.
To join the ranks of those who watch on TV is not easy, Sky Sports seemed to concentrate more on the poor marking of Gouffran for our first goal than the quality of the strike, a station happier to criticise than to praise, more concerned with the finger of blame than the pedestal of fame. Not that we should care, another clean sheet, another three points, another 30million and another couple of shirkers out the door. All in all, not a bad week in black and white.