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Little Vurn Could Be The ‘Battery For Pardew’s Watch’

8 years ago
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I’ll never forget this moment of commentary genius .

France were playing in the 2004 Euros,  Clive Tyldsley praises Claude Makelele for a typically brilliant piece of tactical awareness to break down an attack and then says ‘Makelele, a player once described by Claudio Ranieri as the battery for my watch’.

This insightful and eloquent description was then given Mick McCarthy’s input, with his booming Yorkshire accent stating ‘well he’s about the right size given the size of some of the watches players have nowadays’.

As I fell about laughing at the ridiculousness of this statement by the man who led Sunderland to their best ever points total (in our eyes) I never thought I’d be writing about it in years to come, but what Ranieri said about Makelele could also be said about Vurnon Anita at Newcastle.

After a difficult first season Anita is starting to look a class act and for me simply has to play. Cheick Tiote has physical presence over him but technical ability and tactical awareness are in short supply from the Ivorian. The modern game has lots of diminutive midfielders that prove you don’t have to leave a trail of limbs, devastation and bookings to be an effective holding player and Anita has all the attributes to be an outstanding player for us.

In the second half against Chelsea he was the difference for me. Pardew said he wanted us to conserve energy and stop them playing then get more of the ball as the game went on. He simply can’t of planned how well that would actually work when Anita came on for Tiote, surely?

I like Pardew but if he planned that he is a tactical genius! The effect Anita had on the whole team is there for all to see. He always makes himself available for the ball, recycles possession and never plays hospital balls, a trait that unfortunately is Tiote’s trademark. When it comes to tackling, and sorry for stating the obvious, but a precise standing tackle can be the main difference for us in hitting teams on the break. It also seems when he is on the ball instead of Tiote, our attacking players take more risks with their movement because they know the chances are we will keep possession and build attacks. When Tiote is on the ball it condenses the game as players get closer to him because of his limited ability on the ball.

A midfield three of Anita, Sissoko and Cabaye, as I have stated before, is one to take us forward. Sissoko had his best game in a while against Chelsea but I still worry about Pardew’s idea that he is the man for all jobs. He isn’t a wide player and seems to be deemed not good enough for the middle but too good to take off in certain games.

Next week against Spurs is not the daunting trip it has been for the last couple of years as they are still a team in transition and the midfield could be key to the game. Despite my heavy criticism of Tiote, he has been improved in the last month and even playing him and Anita in tandem as a holding two,  may allow Cabaye to do what he does best and really get into the final third. We will need his guile and craft up there if we are to breach a miserly defence and get a result.

Howay the lads!

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