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What to do with a problem like Moussa Sissoko?

7 years ago

What to do with a problem like Moussa Sissoko?

The debate in this week’s local papers and bars, has been centred around Remy Cabella and whether he should start at the weekend against Leicester City.

This focus on Cabella has, however, drawn attention from one of the more ongoing and pressing dilemmas facing Alan Pardew, what to do with a problem like Moussa Sissoko?

In my opinion, Sissoko’s time in the first team should be brought to a long overdue end. He has had more than enough opportunities, but has failed to deliver consistently; for this reason, his automatic starting right should be revoked.

Pardew’s persistence with Sissoko is not unsurprising given his workrate and teamwork, but he is attempting to accommodate a player who appears to have no natural position and this is now to the detriment of the playing style of a team, that desperately needs more width and creativity.

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Sissoko is somewhat of an enigma. He is certainly in possession of a Rolls Royce engine, and few could argue with his overall workrate and stamina, but the next Patrick Vieira he is not!

A player of Sissoko’s size should be dominating the midfield area, but he is both poor in the air and comes across as weak and afraid in the tackle, so much so, he makes Luuk de Jong’s efforts appear lionhearted.

Added to this, he is often ponderous on the ball, and does not contribute enough goals or assists overall. Most supporters believe that his best position lies in the centre of midfield, but he lacks the tenacity of Tiote and the accurate, high tempo passing of Colback, so does not justify his place in the team ahead of these two players.

Furthermore, the renaissance of Obertan has added natural width and more attacking threat from wide areas, so Sissoko’s regular starting berth on the right also comes under question. Pardew must be bold and now drop Sissoko for the overall good of the team.

Cabella, on the other hand, needs to be given more time to adapt and should be given the kind of time afforded to Sissoko to reach his full potential.

In a bout of revisionist history, several papers have this week claimed that Newcastle’s most successful recent import from the French leagues, Yohan Cabaye ‘hit the ground running’ immediately.

This was not my recollection of the mercurial Frenchman’s first 10 games where, although his quality was there to see, he was often caught in possession and struggled with the pace of the game, more often than not being substituted midway through the second half of games. Clearly in possession of sound vision and technique, Cabella should begin to open up defences if he is given time to adapt to the pace of the league, but the question remains, what is his best position?

His natural position should be out on the left hand side, providing balance and width to the team. This would provide Gouffran/Riviere an opportunity to play alongside Cisse. However, given Cabella’s lack of workrate and tracking back, I would be tempted to give him the freedom of the park this weekend against Leicester City in a withdrawn number ten role, providing support and assists for Cisse.

If Cabella takes up the number ten position, who then should play out on the left?

Gouffran’s current form is chronically poor and he too does not justify a place in the team, but given the lack of alternatives he will probably remain Pardew’s first choice.

The option is open, however, to see if the younger Ameobi can continue to develop and deliver on the promising cameo at the end of the Swansea game.


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