Newcastle United – Many Fans, Too Many Short Memories
Two great results against Chelsea and Tottenham, we can all agree with that.
Whether you think Mike Ashley has got 666 tattooed on his heed, or bizarrely think the fans collectively owe a massive debt to him.
Whether you believe the Earth is flat or round(ish), all supporters can come together and enjoy those two final whistles against our friends from London.
(To feature like Dean, send in your letters/articles for the magazine/website to [email protected])
However, what we surely have to all accept is that no matter how great the six points in the bank are, the reality is that for an hour of each of those two games, Newcastle had zero attacking threat.
The first sixty minutes or so of the Chelsea match was mind-numbing with Newcastle hardly getting out of our half and/or retaining the ball in enemy territory, while at Spurs both players (literally) and fans (figuratively) had their tin hats on, as for the last hour or so Spurs rained down the majority of their 31 shots at Tim Krul’s goal.
In both matches we had no outlet for most of the two games, a player who can retain possession even when under concentrated pressure and who can also beat his man.
If only we had a player like that…
We used to have one, he was called Hatem Ben Arfa, and a good few of you need reminding that not very long ago, Hatem was playing out of his skin and looked the only positive we could look forward to this season.
Only two months ago Ben Arfa took Aston Villa apart, scored a superb winner out of nothing against Fulham and was the only one who posed any threat whatsoever to the West Ham goal. At the very least I would say Hatem has individually contributing five points this season; the win at Villa and three instead of one point against Fulham.
Shocking team performances against both Hull and Everton (first half) followed and Hatem appears to have become the scapegoat. Since then he has started both the Liverpool and Mackem matches but in those two games Alan Pardew has had the French genius playing anywhere but his favoured right hand side.
After matches, pundits and fans are all keen to use the result to justify all sorts of things and it is true that massive doses of hard work (and luck) as well as moments of great skill have helped Newcastle beat the London duo.
However, the way many people are so quick to write off our greatest talent is pathetic. How can fans drool at a display like Ben Arfa gave us at Villa and then so quickly turn around and say we are better off without the supposedly lazy good for nothing?
As Alan Shearer has said this week, no player should be praised for hard work, it should indeed be a given, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that Ben Arfa gets his deckchair out for most of the 90 minutes. He does the most tiring job of all which is retaining the ball and taking his opponents on, plus his tracking back has improved immeasurably.
I think there is a massive responsibility on Alan Pardew’s shoulders to get Ben Arfa integrated back into the team and playing his best ASAP.
At the minute we have a massive over-reliance on Loic Remy finishing a high percentage of the relatively few great chances that come his way. I look at the Gouffran goals as a healthy bonus bit certainly you are going to struggle for many (any?) from Tiote, Sissoko, Shola and the rest of the team, apart from Yohan Cabaye. As for goals from corners…
Hatem Ben Arfa hasn’t become a bad player overnight but it is a duty for us all, especially the manager, to help the player return to his brilliant best.
As the saying goes;
Form is temporary – Class is permanent.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]