I’m sure we’ve all seen endless articles suggesting a return for either Hatem Ben Arfa or Andros Townsend, or both.
However, would you really want either of them back?
I for one would’t want to see either player back at St James Park.
I understand that they are both exciting flair players that would definitely add spice to our game, but I just don’t see them having the same pedigree character-wise, or the same team-working ethic our current lot have.
With Hatem Ben Arfa, he will be remembered for his dazzling dribbling, fans being off our seats as soon as he got the ball.
I always felt though that there were small changes he could have made to improve himself massively, which would have meant a much larger contribution to the team.
I appreciate there were many times he would run past a defender and not be afraid to take a shot, or he could excite us by taking it past a man or two.
However, there were countless times that positive looking counter attacks were either cut out, slowed down, or prevented by the man himself – Ben Arfa.
He has good football intelligence, he can take himself into good positions to receive the ball in space and turn away with it. But for the life of him he can’t spot a pass.
As a result there would be times he would pick up the ball on or around the halfway line, with players out wide/forward attacking the spaces. He’d take a touch, another, another – then with football standards so high in this country it can just take a second too long to hold the ball and the whole chance has gone.,
There were also more obvious chances wasted, as he would continuously rather shoot from 30 yards than slide a smooth ball through to the man up top, which should have been his main role.
It is rightly so that creative players are remembered for their quality moments, but I struggle to justify having a player that would let so many opportunities slip for the one in ten, or twenty, to hit the net.
As a team we simply can’t afford to have individuals performing for themselves, instead of playing to do what’s best for the team every second of the 90 minutes.
Quite possibly Rafa Benitez could change that in his game – but with his ego it is too much of a risk?
Then added to that, with his age (turns 31 in March) how would his speed/stamina be, or how would paying the wages he would demand affect others in the squad?
As for Andros Townsend…
A little similar to Ben Arfa at times but gifted with unbelievable pace and would deliver the occasional pass.
We replaced his pace with Atsu, a player bringing a lot of similar things to a game as Townsend would.
Townsend brings a lot to a game, I won’t deny that, but he is a prime example of how a modern day ego can affect how good a player can be.
There’s so many times in a game where he will try things outside of his skill set, as opposed to an easier alternative to give a teammate a much better chance of scoring.
I totally understand the need for players to express themselves, try new things when it feels right, acting on instinct, but we aren’t always going to cut teams apart creating chance after chance, so every chance is important.
In our situation we need a team full of players that will always act in the best interest of the team scoring, not themselves.
We’re assembling what looks to be a good footballing side, with players that can play in tight areas in the middle of the park, yet get it into space when needed.
I personally think Ayoze Perez doesn’t get half as much credit as he deserves, as he adds something totally different to our game, and I think he’s such a talented player with the ball at his feet.
Ayoze Perez is the type of player that thrives playing alongside technically gifted players, players capable of quick one-two’s or tiki-taka football.
Granted, there are areas of his game he could improve on, as I’m sure Rafa and the team will be working on, he still though brings a lot to the team.
He is selfless in possession and when we’re a goal up in a tight game, you can guarantee he can receive the ball out wide, draw the defender in, and get a foul.
Although this isn’t achieving much (taking on one player and going down), it gives the opportunity for the team to get up the pitch, re-group, have a breather.
His ability to make off the ball runs to take others out the game is also something that can’t overlook.
Anyway, with Murphy and Aarons waiting in the wings getting prepared for their next opportunity at Newcastle, I’ll end by saying I’d much rather see one of them getting a stretch in the side over a return for any of our former employees.