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How can you judge a player when he plays for a bad team?

6 years ago

What a tough, nerve-racking week we’re in the midst of.

I’m currently at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama celebrating my college graduation. I was able to watch the game on the porch of my condominium, looking out onto the ocean.

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It was a gorgeous view…until the game started of course. The first half was bearable, but goodness, what an atrocious second half. It’s been far too often this season that Newcastle performances have been a tale of two halves. The inability to perform consistently throughout an entire game might be the main factor in this team’s dreadful season.

One positive that I’ve taken from this week is the rumour that Jack Colback is back on the English national team’s radar. I hope this is true.

Jack Colback is my favourite player in the Newcastle squad. He consistently shows the attitude and work ethic on the field that I really find endearing. The guy’s emotions tend to reflect the team’s results; when we win, he shows such joy and pride. When we lose, he is visibly distraught. This is important when you’re wearing a Newcastle jersey.

When the news broke that Colback was being scouted again for the English national team, I noticed a few articles criticising Colback and advocating that his quality isn’t deserving of a national team call-up. This prompted to me to write this article, with the intention of addressing this question:

How fair is it to judge a player when he plays for a bad team?

Football is a very unique game. Living in the United States, there are so many sports. And I love every one of them. Football, baseball, basketball, American football; you name it, I have a team. Baseball, basketball, and American football all have a variety of statistics that help quantify a player’s effectiveness. The sheer multitude of statistics available actually can actually border on ridiculous. Football is different.

While there are stats available for football, the only way to really evaluate a player (outside of goals and assists) is to just watch them. Observe their movement, positioning, decision making, and skill. That’s really the only accurate way to break down a player.

But football is also such a team sport; so much depends on the players surrounding you. For example, if Player A sees open space that would be ideal for a pass to Player B, the success of that pass isn’t only up to him. Player B also has to have the awareness and make the run. This is just one, specific example, but it illustrates my point that some players can look a lot less capable than they are because of their surrounding team.

Especially a player like Colback. He isn’t extremely athletic or particularly skilled. His skill set isn’t the dynamic type that can enable him to take over a match and win it all by his lonesome. But his presence is steady and efficient.

Colback is a solid passer who also possesses the diligence and determination to get back on defense and position himself correctly. He has also scored a few goals this season, which is new for him and will hopefully continue. These traits have made Colback, in my opinion, the most consistent and best player on the Newcastle team this year.

I also think that surrounding this guy with better talent might unlock some of his greater potential. With better, smarter players around him, Colback could really start to shine as a rock in the midfield.

For these reasons, I think Colback is worthy of consideration for England’s squad. His performances certainly don’t qualify him for a starting slot, or maybe even a spot on the bench. However, a national team scout needs to look at a multitude of players to appropriately fulfill his job description.

I don’t think it’s absurd that Colback is within this range of players being scouted, and I hope he is deemed worthy of an international friendly appearance or two. Who knows, there have been countless players who have unexpectedly shone in an international game which has subsequently jumpstarted his club career. Colback could really benefit from a call-up to his country’s team.

In the meantime, I hope he can step up and help the Magpies get a win.

I know all Newcastle fans want to avoid relegation as much as I do, but I’m pretty positive I won’t be able to view The Championship league games on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Just to be safe, everyone passionately cheer for Manchester United this weekend!


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