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Emmanuel Riviere and the ‘What if…’ moment

7 years ago

The closure of the transfer window brought an end to the biggest squad overhaul the club has seen for any number of years.

Twelve new players came through the door and even more were sent out through it, including a whole host of last year’s first team “stars”.

The main deadline day talking point was obviously the long-overdue sale of Moussa Sissoko, with Tottenham somehow finding it reasonable to fork out £30m for a player that played a big part in the relegation of his now previous employers the year before.

If anybody knows what Mr. Levy was drinking on August 31, I’d love to get my hands on some!

Plenty of fans and writers alike have had their say on Sissoko, including myself, so for something a little bit different I’m writing this piece as an ode to another of our deadline day departures.

Emmanuel Riviere left for Spain after a horrendous two years with Newcastle, with his only league goal coming in the form of shinning one in at Loftus Road.

I’m not sure there’s one Newcastle supporter in the world who was left with any shade of sadness or disappointment when the Frenchman’s exit was confirmed.

The depressing thing about Riviere is that I believed he could have been a perfect fit for Newcastle and our then Premier League football when he first signed in 2014.

In his first pre-season he showed off his qualities, scoring several goals, including a terrific header from the edge of the box against Schalke.

The guy looked strong, quick, and made many believe he could have become a real asset.

Or not.

To be fair, even his first few games of competitive football weren’t horrendous. His debut against Manchester City was again impressive, holding up the ball well and bullying title-winning defenders in what was a harsh 2-0 defeat.

He got himself a decent brace at Selhurst Park in the Capital One Cup in September but from there it all went rather badly.

After losing his place in the side he never looked like he had the desire or the ability to win it back. In any substitute appearances he made, the player who compared himself to Henry when he first joined, was looking more Horrid than Thierry.

Football as a whole, and particularly the history of Newcastle United, is riddled with “what if?” moments, and Emmanuel Riviere wasn’t short of his own at the end of his first season.

A calamitous second half of the season meant Newcastle were fighting to avoid relegation on the final day of the 2014/15 season. A win over West Ham on the final day would secure their safety.

The enigma that is John Carver went with a front two of Papiss Cissé and Emmanuel Riviere for the match, giving the Frenchman one last chance to end his season on a positive note.

In the second half of the game, with the score 0-0, one moment all but condemned Riviere to total black-and-white dejection forever.

Daryl Janmaat had the ball on the right, beat his man, and played a fantastic delivery across goal.

The ball perfectly fell towards an on-rushing Riviere, just a few yards from goal. This was it, this was his moment to rectify a season of woe and score the goal that would keep Newcastle United in the Premier League, his chance to re-ignite his career on Tyneside and start afresh next season with a “hero” tag.

But clearly he didn’t fancy any of that, and opted to kick fresh air instead.

You never know what he could have made of himself had he scored.

Okay, don’t laugh. Maybe not, but still…

The added confidence boost would have been wonderful to a man who at times looked downright scared to play the game that the rest of us could only dream of playing professionally.

His second season was just as depressing but when, for some reason, Steve McClaren opted to throw him in out of the blue at home to Bournemouth in one last attempt to save his job, nothing had changed.

Emmanuel Riviere was limp, ineffective, and was dragged off at half time. McClaren was sacked and Riviere was never to be seen again.

Knowing our luck he’ll bag loads of goals for Osasuna, but even so, I think we’re all going to do just fine with the forwards we’ve got now.

But regardless, here’s to you, Emmanuel, thanks for the memories.

Comments welcome.

You can follow the author on Twitter @RhysMelhuish22



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