It’s apparent to say that life under John Carver has been, let’s say, less than exhilarating since Pardew packed his bags for South London.
Remember how optimistic we were that day?
I’m not saying we were wrong to be, and I’m certainly not jumping on the ‘Get Pardew back in’ bandwagon. He’s not the man to take us forward, but clearly Carver doesn’t fit that bill either.
The Geordie faithful sit in hope that we avoid an unlikely, but still uncomfortably possible, relegation fight, and that a Frank De Boer or a Remi Garde will waltz through the St. James’ Park gates in the summer to invigorate our once-great football club.
We’ve got some waiting to do before that though and we’re having to make do with what we’ve got. Horrifically negative and mediocre performances against sides like Burnley, Leicester, Stoke and Crystal Palace have seen a wave of criticism fired at Carver, as well as the man at the top.
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Some members of the playing staff have been in the firing line too, with the usual suspects of Yoan Gouffran and Mike Williamson defying belief by retaining their respective places in the Newcastle starting XI.
But there’s one player out on the field that is infuriating me far, far more than those two; and he needs to buck his ideas up.
Moussa Sissoko’s first half of the season was pretty special. So often he would run the show whenever he was involved, with an almost Vieira-esque combination of unstoppable pace and power.
Now? Our so-called ‘£20m-plus star man’ looks about as disinterested as it gets, and is contributing nowhere near as much to the side as he used to.
Once Moussa had been drafted back in to his natural central position earlier in the year, and offered more attacking responsibility, he looked a world-beater. He could pick up the ball from deep within our own half, then burst past 4 or 5 opposition players with ease. When was the last time we saw him do that?
As the January transfer window opened up, Moussa scored in front of the Gallowgate to put Newcastle ahead for the third time that day against Burnley.
It was reasonably late in the day, looked like it could have been the winner (and it bloody should have been too), but his celebration was devoid of excitement.
He jogged along to the corner flag without energy, enthusiasm, or any sort of response that a Premier League goal-scorer usually has when putting his team ahead with 15 minutes to go.
It was unrecognisable. Sissoko has always been one to celebrate his goals for us. He went berserk in front of the away fans after his strike at Manchester City, and sprinted to the dugouts in sheer ecstasy after his winners against QPR (this season) and West Brom (last season). Many Newcastle fans thought something was up that day, with interest from Arsenal and PSG anything but far from media coverage.
A January move never materialised, so Sissoko is a Newcastle player until the end of the season.
As happy as we were to see him stay, Moussa himself doesn’t seem thrilled. Not that I can blame him having to hang around our rotting football club for another 5 or so months.
It’s been far too long since he got the crowd to their feet with a lung-bursting run from midfield, he’s dropped deeper than usual, and seems like he doesn’t want to make things happen anymore.
I’m not saying he’s been woeful, he’s been ok. But what annoys me is that he’s managed to look ok with minimal effort. When he puts a shift in, he’s monstrous!
The guy is a professional and will continue to do his job as he should. But it just doesn’t seem like the same player as the guy who made Chelsea’s engine room stars look like Sunday league fools.
Unlike Gouffran and Williamson, who just aren’t of Premier League calibre, Sissoko has the ability to perform and make things happen for Newcastle United, but he just doesn’t seem to want to. With De Jong out for another 8 weeks or more, the responsibility of even the slightest hope of a strong finish to the season rests on his shoulders a little while longer, whether he wants it there or not.
If he does want to move away, like it has been reported, he’s not going to get his way with the performances he’s given of late.
John Carver has come out and said plenty of times that Moussa Sissoko is focused on the task in hand, which I’m sure he is.
He just doesn’t look like he has the magic that he used to.
Comments welcome below.
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