What have you done with Yoan Gouffran?
Let’s take a quick look at the history of Yoan Gouffran at Newcastle United.
When he first signed for us, he arrived amidst a raft of fellow French players in January 2013 – Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara and Moussa Sissoko also joined in that transfer window – so he could have easily been lost in the crowd as one that faded into a few cameo appearances from the bench.
Add onto this the fact that he only cost (around) £1.5 million and that, to me, meant that any promise he showed in the early days of his Newcastle career could have fizzled out as a bargain basement experience that didn’t work.
But, it did work. Eventually.
The remainder of the 2012-13 season was hardly glory days stuff, as Newcastle only secured Premier League safety with one match remaining. Gouffran scored his first three goals for the club in that time.
2013-14 showed more promise from the former Bordeaux player and he quickly became something of a fan favourite. Key moments being an almost simple header against Chelsea in November 2013 and a string of solid performances as a firm partnership was formed with Loic Remy.
Never one to shoot his mouth off, Gouffran has always seemed to let his football do the talking and, let’s be honest, there were times during Alan Pardew’s time in charge when you just felt like you were being lied to. Maybe a few more people should have followed Gouffran’s lead and kept their mouths closed, especially when things started to go sour.
And, that’s it. Until this season.
If ‘Pardewed’ is even a thing, Yoan Gouffran managed to avoid that tag, but he was most definitely ‘McClarened’.
In his experimental tenure as Newcastle boss, Steve McClaren started Gouffran a grand total of two times, leading to many fans thinking the player was beginning to take up valuable space in the squad – a claim that could be understood in light of the emerging talents of Ayoze Perez and Rolando Aarons.
Again, Gouffran kept his opinions to himself. There were no whinging interviews, no refusals to sit on the bench and no prima donna ‘come and get me’ flirtations to other clubs. Hats off to him for carrying himself with dignity when he’s getting nothing from the manager and a bit of stick from fans. Who wouldn’t doubt their ability in that situation?
But, since relegation, the player has gone from strength to strength under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez, culminating in a confident performance against Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.
Whenever he puts on the black and white shirt, Gouffran has, first and foremost, been a workhorse and it is in a league as tough as the Championship where a bit of steel is needed, over anything as frivolous as flair.
Don’t get me wrong, Gouffran is not a player that, should he vanish from the squad, he’d be greatly missed – If I’m honest, a part of me thinks that a massive part of his resurgence is because the Championship may be his level and, should promotion be accomplished, Gouffran would be 31 at the beginning of next season.
Safe bets would surely say he would then become the fringe player he was almost always destined to be. If he stays.
For now, however, let’s give a little respect to a player who, as he approaches the fourth anniversary of his signing, demonstrates a subtle passion for Newcastle and its fans.
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