End Of Ramadan Spark Forgiveness At Newcastle United?
Recent seasons have seen Ramadan used as an excuse by Alan Pardew for early season form with Newcastle heavily reliant on Muslim players such as Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa for goals flair.
The reasoning being that if United’s Muslim players observe the strict fast from sunrise to sunset, then it can leave them short of energy and match fitness in those early matches of the season.
However, that excuse can’t be on the agenda this time because Ramadan has fallen earlier in the year and while the exact date of when it ends in the UK can be difficult to determine because it is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, many Muslims in this country are marking the end of Ramadan today.
The breaking of the fast is called Eid al-Fitr (or referred to simply as ‘Eid’) and is celebrated with special prayers, family gatherings, presents, feasts and sweets.
Newcastle United were far-sighted enough last season to initiate a space at St.James’ Park as a prayer room for the significant number of Muslim players at the football club.
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Interestingly, ‘Eid’ is also marked by many Muslims with donations to charity, plus it is is traditional to use this day to forgive people and reconcile differences you may have had in the past…
Which brings us back to Newcastle United.
There are currently seven Muslim players in the Newcastle first team squad and these are;
Papiss Cisse, Mapou Yanga-M’Biwa, Hatem Ben Arfa, Mehdi Abeid, Cheick Tiote, Massadio Haidara and Moussa Sissoko.
So my question/hope is; can Alan Pardew along with our Muslim players, embrace this spirit of Eid and reconcile their differences, and indeed forgive past indiscretions.
While Cheick Tiote could complain about Yohan Cabaye being sold from alongside him in the midfield, he doesn’t appear to have much to forgive Alan Pardew about, or to reconcile with, though the other six may have to varying degrees.
Moussa Sissoko might fancy having a chat with the manager as to being played in his best position rather than played all over the place as per last season, whilst Massadio Haidara will be hoping he will not be ignored this season as he was for almost all of the last campaign.
Mehdi Abeid went out on loan to Panathinaikos which ended up being a big success, though things had soured with the manager in the lead up to that departure – will he get his chance on the back of a reconciliation?
It is with the other three players that most eyes are focused on.
Why was out and out striker Papiss Cisse turned into a right winger, why had Mapou Yanga-M’Biwa hardly been given a chance in his proper position in the middle and just why can’t Hatem Ben Arfa and Alan Pardew settle their differences to the benefit of all?
While Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko are nailed on as first team starters, if Newcastle United could get the best out of Ben Arfa, Mapou and Cisse then a squad short on real quality could suddenly start and look an awful lot stronger.
Forgiveness and reconciliation – the perfect way to begin a season.
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