If you wanted something to perfectly sum up what a tightrope Newcastle United have walked this season, just look at these statistics from Papiss Cisse’s involvement with the team.
After 36 matches United are now fighting relegation but without Papiss Cisse just where would they be?
The Senegalese striker has featured in 20 Premier League games, 10 from the start and 10 from the bench, this is the breakdown of how NUFC have done with and without him:
NUFC with Cisse – 20 games: Won 7 Drawn 6 Lost 7 (27 points)
NUFC without Cisse – 16 games: Won 2 Drawn 3 Lost 11 (9 points)
With Cisse’s help, Newcastle have beaten Everton 3-2, Villa 1-0, Hull 3-0, Chelsea 2-1, Liverpool 1-0, QPR 1-0 and Leicester 1-0.
The only two wins this season when Papiss Cisse hasn’t been involved in the 90 minutes, were the 2-1 at Spurs and 2-0 at West Brom.
What these statistics suggest is that with Papiss Cisse, Newcastle are a safe middle of the table team, but without him we are relegation certainties.
The bottom line of course is that if you don’t have a credible out and out goalscorer in your team you will struggle, particularly when like Newcastle your midfield and defence is pitiful in terms of helping on the goals front.
Cisse has scored 11 goals despite being on the pitch only 1035 Premier League minutes – the equivalent of eleven and a half full matches.
The real story is that Newcastle United went into this season knowing full well that Papiss Cisse wouldn’t be fit enough to start the season after his major knee operation, plus he would potentially struggle to play week in week out, even when he came back.
What a ridiculous gamble it then was by Mike Ashley to trust a budget journeyman striker like Emmanuel Riviere who had no great goals record in France, plus the bizarre loan signing of never to be seen Facundo Ferreyra.
If only a properly funded striker had been brought in then there is no way Newcastle would have ended up in a relegation fight in the final eight days of the season.
Newcastle United’s Premier League survival was risked on Cisse doing enough when he played and expecting miracles from Riviere and Ferreyra.
Only thanks to a minor miracle in Ayoze Perez proving a real surprise package after being catapulted out of the Spanish second tier, are Newcastle even in a position where relegation survival is in their own hands.
Which brings us back to Papiss Cisse.
If Hull pick up points, does Newcastle’s survival depend on whether Papiss Cisse is on the pitch and fit enough to do himself justice in these final two matches?