This Newcastle Player Can Still Fulfil His Potential
Allow me to briefly take you back in time to the successful season of 2011/2012, where Newcastle United fans enjoyed a 5th place finish and briefly flirted with the possibility of Champions League football.
A regular starter during this season was the man we paid around £4 million pound to bring from Manchester United to patrol our right wing – Gabriel Obertan.
No Newcastle United player divides opinion so much as the bald headed speed demon. For the most part, he has been much maligned and vilified by Newcastle supporters, becoming a victim of the Newcastle boo boys. Looking back on his Newcastle career, I ask myself why this is the case and if his victim status is fully justified?
Obertan is somewhat of an enigma as he has all the attributes to make an excellent footballer, combining pace and strength with reasonable technique and awareness. More often than not, however, he fails to deliver performances that underlay his undoubted talent.
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In many respects, it is his failure to fully unlock this potential that is the most frustrating aspect of his play, a failure that appears to be born out of a chronic lack of self-belief.
During Newcastle’s successful 2011/2012 season, Obertan started or played in 23 games, of which Newcastle won 11, drew 6, and lost 6.
In the 15 games where he did not play a role, Newcastle won 9, drew 1 and lost 5. These statistics do not provide a picture of Obertan’s overall contribution in terms of goals and assists, but they do tell us he was an important part of a successful and well-functioning team.
Indeed, part of Newcastle’s success that season was that they had a structured and balanced team with two hard working and committed wingers in Obertan and Guitierrez. While Guiteriez was the darling of Newcastle fans for ‘geeting stuck in’ and essentially playing as Pardew’s auxiliary second full back, Obertan became the victim of the boo boys for failing to deliver on his potential.
Given Obertan’s contribution during the 2011/12 season, and that he has only played a handful of games since, I find the criticism that he has received unjustified and over the top.
I can understand Newcastle’s frustration with Obertan, but I would rather see a player trying and failing to create and open up a defence than not trying at all. I am by no means suggesting that Obertan is the answer to Newcastle’s current problems, or long-term success, but given the personnel we have available and his current good run of form, he certainly justifies a place in the starting eleven this weekend at Swansea.
Many footballers have not reached their full potential until they reach their peak years and you never know, given a run in the side, Obertan might start performing consistently.
He might never reach his true potential, but if nothing else, he might still create some chances, provide some balance to the side and prove a useful defensive outlet with his pace preoccupying the opposition full-back.
He is certainly no worse than Sissoko, Cabella and Gouffran, and if shown some patience and support by Newcastle fans, might even start fulfilling his potential.
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