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Is It Time To Give Shola The No.9 Shirt?

8 years ago
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With the new squad numbers about to come out and be filled by new signings, an updating of player number allocations is long overdue.

It’ll clear up any confusion in Alan Pardew’s mind about which players are best suited to each of the 11 positions.

Papiss Cisse must earn back his starting spot and labour under the weight of a No. 4,000 shirt so the lesson of disrespecting the hallowed no. 9 shirt isn’t forgotten.

His no. 9 shirt ought to be passed to our longest-serving player, Shola Ameobi: gentleman Geordie footballer, role model and goal scorer extraordinaire.

It is 2013 and there are still people who believe the Earth is flat despite all evidence to the contrary. Similarly, as Goala sits proudly as Newcastle’s top scorer this pre-season with 2 in 1.5 games, there are still people who don’t rate him and believe he should be sold as soon as a new striker arrives…

It’s hard to look especially dangerous a goal threat sitting on the Newcastle bench most of the time and Shola’s had his many critics over the years – I even know a man who proudly claims to be his 1st Gallowgate detractor.

Yet to me, Shola’s critics are like the people who thought the world was flat: it may appear so at times yet, in reality, it is round.

Like the ball Ameobi struck into the net in The Nou Camp, away at Stamford Bridge, at Anfield, at The Millenium Stadium vs Manchester United, at Elland Road and more.

He scored twice at Bayer Leverkusen in The Champion’s League, is Newcastle’s 2nd all-time top scorer in Europe and with 7 goals and counting, only Jackie Milburn’s record against The Mackems is better.

To quote Joe Kinnear, the man who played with Jimmy Greaves (and later signed him for his pub team) “Shola Amamobi [sic] is getting better and better”.

Already, he has a 100% record in pre-season including scoring against a Champions League-elect side in Pacos De Ferreira.

Last season, despite only 10 starts in all competitions, he was the only Newcastle United player to score home and away winners as he bagged 3 goals.

One was home to QPR when he did what Ba and Cisse couldn’t and saved Xmas with a now trademark left-foot gem. The other was away to Metalist when his penalty guaranteed us Last 16 Europa League football.

Speaking of pens, his 100% record from the spot – 9 kicks and counting – is unrivalled in English football now Mario Balotelli has left for AC Milan. Our no.23 was voted by www.football365.com as the player readers would most like to take a pen if their life depended on it.

That sums up what Shola is –Mr. Dependable. He can always be relied upon to grab a goal when Newcastle most need it, like the Sunderland equaliser at the death two seasons ago.

Countless times he has saved Newcastle’s blushes and provided a ray of hope when it has been most needed at the club.

After leading us out against Bordeaux, 3-0 last October – when he scored the opener naturally – he was dropped and we lost 3-0 at Man U and he rarely featured after, as our season stuttered.

The great imponderable is what would happen if Shola was ever a regular starting striker?

Sir Bobby Robson was the manager who handed Shola his debut and had great faith in him – remember that when you’re tempted to listen to the doubters about Shola’s worth!

Numbers Game

So Shola’s nailed on for the new no. 9 shirt yet who else could benefit from a new squad no. next season?

Here is the new back to basics NUFC 11:

No. 1 Tim Krul – It took a long time for Krul to become undisputed no. 1 since his debut away at Palermo in The UEFA Cup in 2006 yet thoroughly deserved.

No. 2 – Mathieu Debuchy. Right-backs traditionally wear no.2 and the no. 26 shirt also worn by Santiago Munez has clearly gone to our flying Frenchman’s head. Warren Barton’s old no. will help ground him defensively…

No. 3 Santon retains the same solid low defensive number yet with a copy of Stuart Pearce’s defensive manual thrown in for good measure.

No. 4 has clearly been the source of much confusion. Cabaye’s wearing of David Batty’s old shirt has brought out unnecessary aggressive and tackling tendencies in a player blessed with his finesse. In our new XI, CheickTiote loses 20 off his 24 number and hopefully the same no. of yellow cards.

No.5 – Steven Taylor. A good, solid English defender’s number worn by the tall daft lad at school, should be given to our Geordie centre half. Stripping him of boyhood hero Phillippe Albert’s flamboyant 27 will diminish any unnecessary theatrics at the back.

No. 6 – Captain Argentina wears the cultured centre half’s kit typified by Bobby Moore, a deserved promotion from no. 2 after demonstrating he’s in no mood to take prisoners this year.

No. 7 – Ryan Taylor. The Newcastle squad isn’t heaving with natural right-sided midfielders so I’ve gone for the forgotten man. His performance on the right side of midfield in front of Simpson was instrumental in the Man U 3-0 and the sooner he’s back to fitness the better.

No. 8 – Moussa Sissoko, Box-to-box midfielder, he’s a natural no. 8 and I expect him to cover every blade of grass and score a few as well.

No. 9 – Who else but The Shocal Hero?

No. 10 Yohan Cabaye dons countryman Michel Platini’s no. and is expected to play the attacking role he enjoys with France. Freed from his defensive shackles, Le Dreamboat is now free to roam in attacking waters and use his vision, artistry and eye for a goal to the full.

No. 11 – Hatem Ben Arfa. He’s left footed, he’s played left-wing for the majority of his football life, I’m playing him left-wing.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter @ultrastartime

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