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La Grande Frustration…As We Say In The Gallowgate

8 years ago

For those people who aren’t up on their French, the title of this article is ‘The Big Frustration’, which is exactly what Gabriel Antoine Obertan’s career has been so far at SJP.

He showed excellent spurts of the kind of pace and talent, which originally would’ve identified him as a young lad with excellent potential, when Alex Ferguson bought him from Girondins de Bordeaux in the summer of 2009.  Back then Manure paid £3million in compensation to the French giants which is just over the fee received from the Toon just two summers later.

Obertan’s early career was always going to be reasonably impressive as he was a graduate of the famous Clairefontaine academy….do I need to list the usual suspects / ex-pupils?!  – Henry, Anelka, Gallas and some bloke from Gallowgate called Ben Arfa?!

So Obertan had the right grounding and the background to succeed and that soon led him to impress at Bordeaux in 54 appearances before being spotted by myself on Football Manager.  Along with Henri Saivet, Gabriel Obertan was always a good player to sign a few years ago on the popular football management game and he remains a steady cheap winger that can ‘do a job’.

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Anyway, back in the real world, a promising career it still is really because the lad has frightening pace, naturally in a black and white shirt the frightening part is….I remember when he came on at the end of the game against Arsenal at the start of last season and terrified the Arsenal back four.  To be honest that’s when he’s at his best, running at people with the ball scaring the whatever out of them.  Since then we’ve seen flashes of promise but it remains sadly unfulfilled in 33 appearances for NUFC, he has scored once against Blackburn after coming off the bench and has only a handful of assists to his name.

He reminds me of a certain long haired Argentine international winger who arrived under a bit of a cloud with his fellow countryman just before the end of KK’s infamous second spell.  Both Jonas and Colo took time to settle in the English game but having settled they are now part and parcel of the squad.  But my point about Jonas and Obertan being similar isn’t regarding settling in England.

It’s about doing what is expected of him. Jonas was so frustrating to watch when he first joined the club.  Fans expected an out and out winger like Gillespie or Giggs  but Jonas was a swashbuckling midfielder who bundled his way up the touchline, rather than hugging the touchline. Since then he’s settled into a more central role and looks comfortable there. For me Obertan is like Jonas. He undoubtedly has the pace to petrify any defence but just doesn’t seem to know when to use it, which is so frustrating. He must be able to hear the shouts  of ‘go down the line’ and ‘beat your man’ from the terraces but 99% of the time ignores it.  Against Bordeaux he showed his ability to beat his man on the outside by providing the goal for Ameobi but the problem is he won’t do it again for another 10 or more games.

For £2.5million I still think what I thought when we first bought him…’haven’t seen enough of him, it’s a punt for a small outlay’. From his displays so far in a black and white shirt I think he is best suited to the European game so should be used in Europe and as an impact player against tired defences late on in domestic games. Sadly, unlike our other French Revolutionaries, I don’t think he will ever truly gain acceptance from our fans and will probably remain one of those who continually frustrate and never fulfil their promise, not because they aren’t good enough, just because they don’t fit the mould of a Newcastle player.

Onwards, Upwards


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