It is enticing to dream that he might score goals like the Blackburn Cup one every other week, if he did though we’d have another Messi on our hands.
The reality is more likely to be a player who blows hot and cold, like most flair players. How often he is hot or cold will then dictate how many fans are in the respective camps, a bit like happened with the genius who was Laurent Robert.
Ben Arfa has certainly got the ability but the consistency and work ethic is what sets the likes of Messi and Ronaldo apart. When you talk about work ethic it isn’t necessarily about diving into tackles or chasing back to help the defence every time, more about making a nuisance of himself when the opposition have the ball and then always on his toes in anticipation of Newcastle getting possession.
We have a safety net of points and few (no!) options while Demba Ba is away, the next five or six weeks could be the making of him at St.James’ Park.
In an interview with Lee Ryder at the Chronicle, Alan Pardew gave an insight into what a handful it must be handling the undoubted talent that is Hatem Ben Afra;
“I think we saw all the sides of Hatem. There was some loose stuff, he was a bit cheap with the ball and I’d have liked a bit more intensity out of him defensively but there were some magical moments which no one else in our team can produce.
Every player has a different personality and character and Hatem’s a very different personality to most footballers in terms of the way he believes in himself, and the ability that he has.
It’s frustrating for him to have that sort of ability and not play because of other issues like his intensity when we haven’t got the ball and coming back from that injury but we’re getting there. We’re trying to get the balance of the team right.
When he came out on the right, it looked better for us. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s him – he can play a number of roles.”