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All I Am Saying, Is Give Sammy A Chance

7 years ago
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“Ronaldo’s decent yet he’s no Sammy Ameobi” – An enlightened Boro fan.

It was an excellent display from Newcastle on Wednesday night against one of the richest clubs in the world.  Man City’s Edin Dzeko at £27M cost roughly the same as our starting line-up yet our best performer on the night Shola Ameobi cost us nothing.

In a week in which Fraser Forster is being linked with a move to Man City, I’d love to have seen another of our home grown products given the chance to shine – Sammy Ameobi. Sometimes, the best things in life are free, the best things in life are Ameobi.

Why didn’t Sammy Ameobi play on Wednesday night?

He is a young man who as much as anyone got us through to the 4th round of The League Cup in the first place. He scored against Morecambe to cap a very good display in the opening round and was generally excellent against Leeds in the 3rd round setting up Papiss Cisse’s first goal of the season and Yoan Gouffran’s second.

In September 2011, he also performed League Cup heroics, scoring the winner against Scunthorpe from outside the area to get us through to the next round. All lower League clubs granted but he didn’t look out of place in The Etihad when he made his full Premier League debut in November 2011.

He’s an England U21 international and as exciting a young winger as there is in the country, alongside the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Raheem Sterling.  Newcastle are continually linked with wingers, Tom Ince amongst them for fees of up to £8M, yet we may be overlooking a diamond on our doorstep.

‘If Sammy scores, we’re on the pitch’ was the terrace song of the summer in 2011 and of course he duly obliged, sparking a mini-riot. He also scored a hat-trick against Gateshead that summer and wowed with a magical performance.

Like Shola, who had the revered football genius Sir Bobby Robson among his most ardent supporters, he needs regular chances to impress and support as making it as a local lad at St. James’ Park isn’t a straight forward process. Players like Andy Carroll benefitted enormously from regular football in The Championship yet it’s harder when we’re in the Premier League.

So often the next big Geordie player with potential fails to materialise into any concrete contribution for the 1st team in the long-term. Think Paul Brayson who still holds the record for being the shortest player to ever appear in The Premier League. It’s too soon to put Adam Campbell in this category yet his development has seemingly stalled and is another cause for concern.

Interestingly, on the day of the Leeds Cup game, Campbell Tweeted “Baffled” before deleting it. Perhaps he’d been told he would feature in such matches after being recalled from Carlisle and was surprised to be left out of the squad.

Due to the influence of brother Shola, not to mention his physical prowess, Sammy is more likely to last the course and can draw on the support and advice of his elder sibling who has scored in The Nou Camp and is heading to next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Again, Shola proved he can compete at the top level, doing everything but score against a top City side yet he still has an army of critics on Tyneside.

Another local lad Steven Taylor has joined Shola in the ranks of the regularly slated. Yes, Taylor is prone to the odd costly error of judgement like was shown in his red card against Manchester City on the opening day of the season. Yet, if anything, he is guilty of over-enthusiasm and his dedication to the cause and body-on-the-line performances earned him an England call-up six months ago after impressing in both the League and Europe.

So far, Sammy has just two goals for Newcastle yet he was among the leading assisters in last year’s Europa League in the group stages when he was playing. He looks like a proper winger who can beat men and cross, yet while he’s made 5 substitute appearances in The Premier League this season, he hasn’t played ninety minutes in total of top flight football.

With a more physical striker in the middle like his brother, he could have made a key contribution on Wednesday night. The nine aerial duels Shola won will hopefully be exploited by Loic Remy on Saturday if both strikers start together, as they should on current form.

If Alan Pardew complains of player fatigue then the decision to play Yoan Gouffran ahead of him for his second game in 4 days was a strange one. Both Shola and Vurnon Anita looked fresh, alive and up for it against top notch players like Micah Richards and Javi Garcia, having not played a great deal of football recently. Whereas Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye weren’t at their best coming on after tough recent games and international duty for Cabaye.

Recovery and resting are such important parts of the modern game and rotation a necessity – Chelsea made 10 changes to their League team for the League Cup game vs Arsenal – so the omission of Loic Remy from Wednesday’s game will hopefully be vindicated with an excellent performance on Saturday. So far Remy’s impressed and scored against Hull, Cardiff and Everton and it would be great to see him score against one of the real big clubs next.

Improvement

Since Sammy’s debut season he, like Newcastle United, has had his travails – especially last season with The Europa League, yet has rejoined the first time pool with some grittier performances in the early weeks of this season. He looks like he has grown up and matured since his loan spell on Middlesbrough when he perhaps had a wake-up call to the privileged position he is in at Newcastle.

The West Ham United game saw him tracking back and tackling like a man possessed, perhaps the influence of coach Peter Beardsley whose game married the best of technical flair with endless hard graft and the trademark Beardsley slide tackle.

Sammy’s hopeful last minute cross-cum-shot that rebounded off Jaskelainen’s stanchion should have been finished off by Yoan Gouffran who somehow contrived to blast over.

He played his part in the battling 2-2 Liverpool draw as well when he came on again down his favoured left side. Winning headers and threatening the full-back led to Brendan Rodgers shuffling his pack and bringing on Raheem Sterling to give him and Newcastle something to think about it – a mark of respect to the danger he poses.

He’s a goal threat as Cardiff found out last season when he scored an excellent goal against the side who won The Championship. When given a chance to express himself, he can entertain and get a crowd to their feet with his skills.

‘Juninho-esque’ is one of the terms he was called at Middlesbrough by pundits for offering something different and providing the unpredictable.

Often, that type of skill can win a game – it was said of Tino Asprilla, “If he doesn’t know what’s he going to do next, how can defenders?” and that kind of magic is often the difference in a tight game. Sammy has that in his locker; flicks and tricks before setting up Gabriel Obertan against Bruges at St. James’ Park last year were phenomenal.

His languid style is similar to Shola’s and also to a young Chris Waddle, one of many similarities between the pair. Waddle had Arthur Cox on his case constantly to get more from him and I’m sure Alan Pardew is doing the same, at least I hope he is.

At the Benton training ground, he’s learning with the best as Ben Arfa is the master of the individual goal, yet shutting him down like Hull did means more attacking options and players who can unlock the door are always necessary.

That ability to lift crowds and people – his Tweets are legendary and have made national headlines with his unique insights into life as a modern day footballer – is something all teams and dressing rooms need and really is priceless.

All sometimes people need is a chance to prove their worth, I’d like to see him given more of a chance to do so on the football pitch.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter @ultrastartime

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