The Vurnon Anita question
The Dutch midfielder has now been at the club three years and there were rumours that he was on his way out 12 months ago but a year later, he is still here and looking forward to yet another season at St James Park.
A pretty much anonymous season for Anita and I was quite surprised to see he’d played in exactly half of Newcastle’s 38 Premier League matches when I checked – 17 starts and 2 as a sub.
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On the plus side, he did at least finish the season off with a very good performance against West Ham, arguably his best game for the club over the course of his three years on Tyneside.
Yesterday Vurnon Anita put this message up via Instagram:
“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.
“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge. #NUFC back to business.”
I have to declare that I am not the Dutchman’s biggest fan.
Like all Newcastle players I want him to succeed but for the life of me, I just don’t see what he offers. Not physically strong, obviously hopeless in the air, not quick and doesn’t score or create any goals.
Last season even Tim Krul created more goals (one) than Vurnon Anita, or even more surprisingly than that, Mike Williamson both scored and created more goals (one in each case) than the former Ajax player.
In fact, over the course of his three years at St James Park, Vurnon Anita has played 95 times for Newcastle and scored two goals and chalked up two assists.
My worry isn’t so much that Anita stays at Newcastle, it is the fact that because of his transfer fee and wages he will be taking up the place of a player who could potentially contribute. Under Mike Ashley, the thought of investing in another player whilst he still has to pay Anita’s wages just isn’t going to happen.
Of course we all hope, against all visible evidence, that Steve McClaren and his coaching team will work miracles with players who we have already seen fail long-term, such as Anita, Williamson, Gouffran, Obertan and many others.
Vurnon Anita for me, will always represent that massive missed opportunity in the summer of 2012.
After finishing fifth there was a great opportunity to build on that and with two or three real quality signings the club could have planted themselves long-term in that top group of seven or eight clubs. Instead all we got was Anita.
As fans we all cling to any positives and no doubt some of you will be saying if only he can do what he did against West Ham every week.
He did play well that day but Newcastle were up against the only team who were on as bad a run as Newcastle, had nothing to play for, already knew their manager was leaving and had a few key injuries on top of everything else.
All routes lead back to what happens in the transfer market this summer. I believe we need at least five or six first team players as a minimum.
If we start against Southampton with at least four or five new players in the starting eleven then I will have hope and if Vurnon Anita scrapes into the match day 18 then fair enough.
However, if we have minimal transfer investment and Anita and other serial failures are in the first team, the writing will be on the wall.
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