Newcastle United – The Creativity Dilemma
As long as I can remember, as far back as 1992 (Any Sunderland fans reading ‘No I’m not an 1992 fan, I was only born a few years before’), Newcastle have given me ups and downs like nothing else in my life.
The highs have been amazing; the 5-0 vs Man Utd, the win away at Feyenoord and the 5-1 derby win have put smiles on my face and kept me smiling for months and months after the event happened. Still when I see highlights of any of those events, and many others, it brightens up my day.
The negative side of it hasn’t been great I have to admit, but even in those moments, there was always hope that things could still turn out ok and things could only get better. The 4-3 vs Liverpool broke my heart but by the next morning all I could think of was that we could still do it. We went down at Villa and by the time the bus went past Leeds all the talk was of what a great year we could have next season.
The big difference between all this and now is that the life seems to have been sucked out for most supporters. The football was poor under Allardyce, Souness and Roeder, but were we ever so negative and lacking in creativity as at the end of last season?
Since the dreamboat left port we won 3 games, one against Cardiff who in my opinion were the worst team in the league last year and who still missed a good few chances to get back level at 1-0, while the other two were against Palace and Villa sides with late goals, after in both cases the opposition manager had appeared to settle for a point.
In summary, as you will already no doubt know, we weren’t good enough.
Some of you will say we don’t have the players but I disagree, and say that in 2 players in particular, we have creative forces that could be the envy of our peers as long as they are used right.
The point I would like to say is that most (especially the local media) seem to think HBA should be the number 10 and Marveaux should play on the wing, but I think they have them the wrong way round.
I think Hatem Ben Arfa has to play out wide like he did in the 2011/2012 season, in my view he is at his best when running at his fullback and turning them inside out (Jose Enrique, looking at you). When I have seen him play in the middle he seems to get crowded out and can never get going. even though as proven against Palace he can change the game with a flick of his boot regardless.
Out wide he has more space to get his runs going and once he goes, he’s a very hard man to stop, and can cause chaos and get us playing on the front foot. Hatem seems a man who needs to be loved. so make him our main offensive player, keep him in the team, and allow him to shine.
There is the defensive side of things from having him play out wide, but if you have options such as Sissoko as the right sided defensive mid, it should be possible to cover for him defensively and allow him more freedom going forward. Such as the way N’Zonzi does so well with Arnautovic at Stoke.
The other key to this lock is Sylvain Marveaux, who seems to split our fans like no other. He looks disinterested at times and at others looks like a really decent player. One of the reasons I don’t think he has succeeded at much as Newcastle, is that he’s been played on the wing for the vast majority of the time, whereas in my eyes he is a number 10, and a number 10 only.
He doesn’t work the line enough to play out wide, and he never seems to want to have a go at his man, despite having skill and pace. He seems much more comfortable passing the ball about and looking for that ‘cute’ final ball that we have been missing since Cabaye left. In my opinion his 3 best games in a Newcastle shirt came in 3 losing efforts; Man Utd 4-3, Arsenal 7-3 and Reading 2-1. The common theme in all these games was that Marveaux played in the middle and caused the opposition problems.
There will be some who thinks this can’t always work and I agree it can’t necessarily against the better teams and even possibly in away games in general. In that case we have a lot of good ‘worker’ options such as Colback, Anita and Sissoko, when you need that extra solidity play an extra one of them instead of Marveaux.
At home though against the likes of Palace, Hull and Burnley, we should be on the front foot trying to break them down and making use of our creative players.
Would this be too positive for a manager like Pardew? Probably, this is the man who liked Harewood more than Tevez, but it shows there is potential in the squad, and at this moment gives me some hope when there is the gut feeling that there is always a good chance we won’t get any quality over the line.
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