This player needs to spend some time on the bench

Needs a good long rest...

Needs a good long rest…

I never like to criticise Newcastle United players. Well that’s a lie, I do it all the time. In fact I think it is healthy to be critical of players who aren’t giving it their all, or are only here for the money or are simply using this club as a stepping stone. By being critical of these types of players, we ensure that only those who want to be here don the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United, or at the very least understand the importance of it. However, none of the above applies to this particular player that I am going to single out for criticism, rather it’s a matter of them no longer being good enough.

The player that I am going to single out for criticism this time (there will be others in the firing line in due course) is Cheick Tiote; one of the stalwarts of the Newcastle United starting XI in previous seasons. In better times he was among the first names on the team sheet but in my opinion this should no longer be the case. Let me explain how I have arrived at my conclusion.

Cheick Tiote arrived in the summer of 2010 in a 3.5 million pound move from FC Twente, following Newcastle United’s promotion back to the Premier League, and he instantly won the hearts of the Newcastle United fans. His blood and guts performances coupled with his no-nonsense style of play embodied the type of resolve we needed to ensure our survival back in the top flight. With the likes of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton around him in midfield he was free to concentrate on winning the ball, and collecting yellow cards; both of which he was very adept at doing. On his day, Cheick Tiote was unplayable and was arguably player of the season as we finished just outside the top 10 in the 2010/11 season.

Following the arrival of Yohan Cabaye in the summer of 2011, Cheick Tiote looked like he was going to go from strength to strength as they formed what seemed like a formidable midfield pairing in the 2011/12 season as Alan Pardew’s side romped home to 5th place. Tiote was once again key for the Magpies and rumours began to circulate that bigger teams were readying a big money move for the Newcastle United midfielder. Chelsea were supposedly willing to pay 20 million pounds to take the Ivorian to London but a move never materialised, and Newcastle United fans were delighted they kept their man.

The wheels began to come off in the 2012/13 season, in a campaign where no one was covered in glory, Cheick Tiote was high on most fan’s list for being one of the players who underperformed the most. Missing Cabaye at key times of the season, Tiote did not seem to settle. What struck most fans was that for a midfield player, he showed little or no ability when it came to passing a ball, and his lack of awareness of those around him when on the ball was startling. If Tiote wasn’t sticking the boot in, diving into a challenge or attempting to win the ball back, he was useless.

What made matters worse was, despite Tiote’s poor form, he was still considered as first choice for the central defensive midfield position, despite players like Gael Bigirimana and Vurnon Anita outperforming him in that role.

Having looked at pre-season, it would have appeared that Tiote was first choice for that position once more, but injury had provided Alan Pardew with an opportunity to rectify his mistake. Both Anita and Sissoko have surely provided the manager with a selection dilemma following on from their respective impressive displays against Fulham. Anita’s passing ability, and Sissoko’s pace and ability to carry the ball far surpass anything Tiote has done in a Newcastle United shirt and as such, both should be considered ahead of Tiote for selection to the first team.

Perhaps some time on the bench could help Tiote rediscover the form that won the hearts of the Newcastle United faithful. If he managed to do that then the manager would have a great selection headache on his hands. But until he manages to find the form that once had him touted as a 20 million pound player, he should spend a lot of time on the bench.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on Tiote? Do other players deserve this level of criticism more than him? I’d love to know what you think, so give me a shout!

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26 comments

  1. I think that is a very balanced, fair assessment of the Tiote situation. I can’t help wondering if there are off field things going on in his personal life – the driving thing was really strange, surely they have enough money to employ people to sort out things like that.

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    1. The thing is that we never really know what is going on behind the scenes in anyone’s personal life, let alone the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The same could be said for both Colo and Cabaye last season with their respective personal problems.

      It would be good to know what, if any, measures are taking in terms of personal care for our players. Do we have counsellors etc however I assume you mean paying a decent legal team to get Tiote off with driving offences…naughty naughty haha

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        1. Well that’s true, but unless he went and tried to sort that out himself who would do it for him. Maybe he is just that arrogant or living in his own bubble that he thinks he doesn’t need to get a licence sorted.

          As for counsellors, surely that would helped the likes of Cabaye or Coloccini last season. The mind needs to be looked after as well as the body. Just look at some of our high profile cases recently.

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  2. Don’t disagree with this at all. Whether the issue has come from Tiote himself or whether it’s come from Pardew trying to adapt Tiotes game style I am not sure, but he really needs to get back to basics as that is where he excels imo.

    When we were promoted and given the players we had, he was a definite starter. That is no longer the case and even on form, he should not be a guaranteed starter for every game as his approach is not always needed.

    The Villa game will be an interesting one. Can’t think of too many players who were heavily involved with the WC qualifiers, so in theory, tiredness etc should not be a major concern for Pardew.

    I would expect and accept at least one of Tiote, Jonas or Taylor to start as I just can’t see all three being left out, if available (I understand there are still doubts over Jonas). Would be nice for them to all be on the bench though. A good test for Pardew, not sure I’ll make myself available whilst the line ups are announced…no doubt many will have us down as losing before a ball is even kicked. I’m strangely upbeat about our chances, the Fulham gave did give me hope and I await to see whether that was a sign of things to come or a lucky blip.

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    1. I actually don’t think we are stronger defensively with those three players included. The likes of Anita and Sissoko, who can keep the ball, relieve pressure by holding the ball whereas Tiote increases pressure by losing it.

      Barca are the masters of defending by keeping the ball, attack is the best form of defence. We aren’t Barca but we can learn from the method.

      I fail to see where Tiote fits into the side, he has effectively become a battering ram who cannot pass, run with the ball or even tackle effectively. I’m not saying get rid, but I’m getting close to that assessment.

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  3. I sympathise with Tiote as I feel he is a victim of circumstance, what I mean is that as Ruddy mentioned with Barton and Nolan, and then with Cabaye his job was to win the ball and then give it to a more creative team mate, however last season which is the only poor one he had he found himself in a position where when he won the ball he due to Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Marveaux either being injured or in Sylvain’s case just not performing, had the likes of Perch, Sammy, Obertan etc to do the creating, and due to this I felt that he was trying to be the creator as well as the winner, which he just couldn’t do, and as we all know football is a confidence game, he had two seasons with high confidence where he was one of the best in the league, but due to trying to hard and making too many mistakes his confidence deserted him, all he needs is for Remy, Cabaye and Ben Arfa to hit a bit of form which will allow him to revert to what he does best and after 2 or 3 good and strong performances he could be back to what he was, I find it rather short-sighted when he gets the stick he does when all he was trying to do was to compensate for the lack of quality around him, back him and when the real Tiote emerges he will make a massive difference to us, without a Tiote the likes of Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Remy and Cisse will be feeding off scraps as they were last season.

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    1. Do you not think that a player playing in the PL should have at least some ability when it comes to passing the ball though?

      It annoys me when Tiote, even following some shocking form, gets ahead of players who can do that job better than him. Anita may not be as physical or can win the ball as well, but his passing is second only to Cabaye’s in our squad. Why should Tiote get ahead of Anita?

      If Tiote is building his game purely on whether Cabaye is in good form then he is a poor player in my book. Your form should be dependant on yourself, not another player.

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  4. At the same time Ruddy, why should Cabaye get in ahead of either Anita or Tiote.
    As for your question about a player in the PL being able to pass, then quite simlpy no I don’t think they should, it’s a team game where certain players are good at certain jobs but overall you have to have all areas covered, at present we are very lightweight, physically we are weak up front, Cisse is like a stick insect with no weight to him, Remy is a lot stronger than Cisse but he is still not a heavy weight, and it’s the same in the defence, Saylor is a strong lad but it appears as if he may be playing second fiddle to Colo and Mbiwa, as much as I would like to see Saylors muscle back in there, we haven’t conceded a goal during his absence so how can we bring him back in, granted the same argument applies to Tiote, but generally we need their strength back, by the way Jackie Charlton couldn’t pass water never mind a football, but he has got a World cup winners medal, but then he was not in the side for his passing, and when it comes to passing Nobby Stiles was little better than Jackie, alas, Nobby also has a World cup winners medal.

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    1. Bygone football of a bygone age. Football is an organic being, gone are the days of the muscle men who can get by simply by breaking up the play. Football is increasingly being played on the deck. Midfield battles are won by passes and not tackles and as such we need players in there who can pass.

      Tiote and Taylor are no longer fit for purpose in my eyes, and as great as it would be to see both players back to their best, especially as Taylor is a Geordie, they no longer give us what we need.

      Look at the top teams in the league, look at the top teams in Europe and tell me that they have players with limited passing ability? I’m afraid comparisons to players from the 60s aren’t going to cut it when trying to justify Taylor and Tiote’s position in the team.

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  5. Ruddy, you say Saylor and Tiote are no longer fit for purpose, Tiote, not so much Saylor due to being injury prone, but Tiote was a massive miss last season, even Barcelona with Song realise that you have to have some real muscle in the centre of the park, it’s the same with Real and Sammi Khedira, Puyol for Barcelona and Pepe, Varane and Ramos are hardly shy of a bit muscle, and both Real and Barca are renowned for fast flowing skilful attacking football, but at the same time they realise that muscle is needed, granted names from 1966 no longer apply, but now as in 1966 you had to have muscle in your side, yes the likes of Khedira and Song may play a better attacking game than Tiote, I say may as it is not a given, ecspecially with Song, but he is there for his muscle, sadly the muscle men who can also play are few and far between, we are not in the market for them, if there are any, is Bastian Schweinsteiger a tremendous passer of the ball, no he isn’t, is Sven Bender a great passer of the ball no he isn’t, granted, Kherdira, Song, Schweinsteiger and Bender may be better passers of the ball than Tiote, then again some of them might not be, but we are Newcastle United, and not Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, you have to cut your cloth accordingly

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    1. I’m afraid I whole heartedly disagree. Bender and Gundogan are much better passers of the ball than Tiote, the same has to be said for Song, Mascherano, Kheidera, Schweinsteiger, Alonso, Carrick, Arteta, Yaya Toure, Fellaini, Lucas Leiva, John Obi Mikel, Ramires et al.

      The likes of Pepe and Puyol are centre halves but even they have much better ability than Tiote in this regard too. To play top flight football at a level that I think Newcastle need to be playing at (at least top 8, pushing top 6) you need to be able to pass a ball, which is something Tiote is inept at.

      The Roy Keane type footballer is dead, they can’t survive at the top flight any more. Muscle is gone. Technique is King. If you have muscle and technique then that’s fantastic, but pure strength based midfield players are a thing of the past, at least at the top level. As such I would have Anita, Cabaye and Sissoko in our midfield three over Tiote every day of the week. That is the cloth we are cutting from. We already have better players than Tiote who are behind him in the pecking order and this is not right.

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  6. If muscle has gone then why do all the top teams in Europe make sure they have it in their side, I am not suggesting that Tiote is as good as the players you mentioned, obviously he is not because if he was he would be playing for one of those clubs, but you still need that muscle, interesting how you bring Sissoko into the debate, next time you watch us play, which will probably be Villa, keep an eye on him, his first touch is abysmal, and his passing is as bad if not worse than Tiote’s, and that takes some doing, Sissoko does add some muscle but he cannot pass, he can if given a chance run from deep at pace with power which does cause problems, but he cannot pass a ball, keep an open mind and watch him, you will be shocked, and I’m not talking about 30/40 yard defence splitting passes either, I’m talking about simple 10 yard passes across the half way line which immediately puts us on the back foot when they fail to reach there target.

    So when it comes to a selection, as you would have guessed I would always like to see a bit a strength in the side, another aspect which I feel is crucial is pace, its so difficult to defend against, Debuchy would I’m sure vouch for that statement, mind in fairness to Debs I was impressed with him against West Ham, initially Matt Jarvis had the beating of him, Debs would be either too close and get turned or stand to far off which would allow Jarvis to knock the ball past him and easily out run him, but after a 10/15 minute horrid time it suddenly dawned on me that Jarvis has not been in the game for at least half an hour, what Debs had done was not stand close enough to get turned but close enough so he could make a challenge if Jarvis was trying to outrun him, so well done to Debs for that, hopefully that will continue, but obviously my concern their is why has it taken him so long to be able to adapt his game, was it a fluke or did he need time to settle in which he has now done, time will tell I suppose.

    But team selection, as always I like a fine balance between strength and pace, as did Sir Bobby, he really loved pace in a side, thats why he insisted on Dyer and Bellamy, they had it in bucket loads. But here is what I would have as first choice from a fully fit squad

    Krul
    Debuchy Saylor Mbiwa Dummett ( or Santon, I need to see a bit more of Dummett to judge, but Santon just cannot defend, he has the pace like Obertan but he doesn’t know how to use it )
    Sissoko Tiote Cabaye
    Ben Arfa Cisse Remy

    in a 4-3-3, there is strength with Saylor, Tiote, Sissoko and even Cabaye is not frightened to put his boot in, there is also pace with Sissoko, Benny and Remy, what I feel would be lacking is height, a Jolean Lescott for Saylor and an Luuk de Jong for Cisse would for me give us a very good side, pace power, strength and height.

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    1. Thoroughly enjoying this debate by the way!

      I would suggest that those top teams who have muscle in their side, the likes of Pepe in Real Madrid, or Mascherano for Barca, can afford to do that due to the high levels of creativity and flair around them. These players are not used all the time, as they are subbed for the more technical players when they are playing opposition that require an added dimension or particular game plan.

      I wouldn’t say Sissoko has a worse first touch or pass than Tiote, but granted I have had a lot more time to judge and cast my eye over Tiote and I will look out of Moussa much more closely. However, as you correctly mentioned, Sissoko’s ability to bring the ball out from deep is an asset that Tiote does not have, and surely for this point alone, Sissoko should be considered ahead of Tiote?

      Debuchy is a tricky one to figure out. In his first 6 months at the club, I fail to see what he offers more in terms of defending than Simpson did. Simmo was sound defensively and I really thought Debuchy would be much much better by now. I think I will give him more time to settle before judging him. I have some rather strong opinions on Santon, these will manifest themselves into an article in the near future so keep your eyes open for that one! haha

      I’m not saying muscle is a trait that is dead and buried in terms of top level football. But you need to have more strings to your bow than just having strength. You need to be able to pass, or be able to carry the ball, or have pace, or have creativity and vision and a football brain. Tiote has nothing BUT strength, which is why I am so harsh on him.

      But a 4-3-3 is our best formation, however I’d have Colo in there every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Taylor before Colo? Howay man!

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  7. I have had the Colo debate on numerous occasions, without a great deal of support I must add, but when I have drummed by points into whoever I was debating with and had them agreeing to simply just look for what I say, never have I had someone come back to me after 15 games ( which is what you need to get a true reflection ) and tell me that I am wrong, it’s either been a silence or an agreeance that I am correct.

    Look at Colo at the flat pack stadium which finished 1-1, he was majestic, cultured, he was in his element, is there a centre half who is as cultured and as comfortable on the ball as he is, possibly there is but there won’t be too many of them, for that and his reading of the game I agree that he is good, but more times than not when defending you have too be ugly, look at Barca with Puyol, he will take man, ball, beast and the whole stadium with him if if means not conceding a goal, it’s the same with John Terry, as much as I dislike the lad he is a mountain in that Chelsea defence, we don’t get that with Colo, he is majestic but he has no foundation, first season back up and last game v West Brom we were 3-0 up, it finished 3-3 and Pardew got a pounding because the draw allowed the sad ones to finish above us, all I remember from that game was at 3-0 they were attacking and one of their players feigned to shoot and Colo tuned his back as he always does, the player did not shoot but he moved inside just one step and put it away, Colo gave West Brom half a chance not Pardew, I could go on forever and a day about him, we came 5th but even the in the 2nd/3rd/4th whichever game it was, he got out muscled by Agbonlahor, he is a light weight, Clint Dempsey is slow as far as PL strikers go, but for two different clubs he has scored against us by outpacing Colo, sorry for Spurs he outpaced Colo to get the penalty, which was converted, look at how easily Suarez shouldered him away for the Liverpool equaliser.

    The man cannot defend, he is woeful, but like so many others you will view me as a fool who doesn’t know what he is talking about, do yourself a favour and look for what I have said with an open mind, believe me you will be disgusted with yourself for ever believing that this oaf can be classed as being a good defender, you come across as being level headed, tell me your opinions of Colo at Christmas, but look closely.

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    1. This simply boils down to what we prefer in our defenders. I actually agree with what you’re saying in the sense that he isn’t as physical as some of the other players you have mentioned, and he has been muscled off the ball too easily, or doesn’t fight like a lion to block a shot or put his head where he might get hurt, and as such he cannot be seen as a truly world class defender.

      But to claim the man cannot defend is just flat our wrong. His calmness, organisation and reading of the game not only makes him a top class defender in his own right, but he improves the defending of those around him. Look at how we defend as a unit with Colo in the side, and look at how we defend as a unit without him.

      I have watched Colo closely, from his dreadful first season in 08/09 right through to the present day. We have not had a better defender than Colo in many many years. Woodgate comes close. Once more, we’ll simply have to disagree. I will give you 15 games, 20 games, even an entire season, but I will never agree that Colo is a dreadful defender.

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  8. His calmness, organisation and reading of the game, yours words which I totally agree with, he has those, but when it comes to the nitty gritty he is severely lacking, and it is the nitty gritty which makes a defender, if we could dominate teams like Barca and Spain do then yes he would be great in that type of team, the chances are he would have done well in KK’s entertainers side, what we have with Colo is a luxury which we can’t afford to have, with him we have caviar, but what we need is cod. As I said earlier cut your cloth to you needs. This man is no good for us, he never has been

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    1. I’ve a feeling that you and I will have a few debates over the coming weeks and months haha

      I’d argue that we wouldn’t have finished 5th without him, we could have got relegated without his presence at the tail end of last season and everything good about our defending in the last 5 seasons has been on account of him.

      If Colo is a luxury, then so too is Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Anita, Marveaux et al. We’re not Stoke you know?

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  9. No doubt we will Ruddy, but don’t ever forget the immortal words ” agree and disagree as much as you like, but don’t ever forget, Spoof is always correct” heh, heh ,heh

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  10. Seriously, how can Marveaux and Anita be classed as a luxury, they have done nothing in a Newcastle shirt, Ben Arfa has but has he done enough, as with Cabaye, possibly not, but you can’t compare Benny to Marveaux, that’s as ludicrous as suggesting that players from 1966 can be compared to the modern day player ?

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  11. marv has been proven to have the most key passes in our team this season so far ! unfortunatly the lad can not been seen at all other times though !

    gosling is another pops up for clearances that would be goals or in the right place for that chance on goal or even the assist at the right time ! but again never notice the lad untill them moments ^^

    so do we have a midfield that is ugly but gets results or one that looks better throughout a game but is less effective overall ?

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    1. Well that’s the true definition of a luxury player. Someone who provides little for the team but pops up with them moments of quality. That for me isn’t what Colo is but that could be used to describe Marveaux and Ben Arfa.

      I think teams need a player that can pop up with match winning moments. Having a hard working unit of 11 players who constantly provide for the team and work hard for the team is important but flair players win matches.

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  12. we have a flair player in saylor then ? oh wait…… i see…. a flash of brilliance to help our team not a flash of brilliance that helps the opposing team >.<

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  13. Definitely wouldn’t describe Saylor as a flair player at all! Colo is a defender with technique and skill, but he constantly provides for the team as far as I am concerned. M’biwa is a defender with good technique too but he needs to consistently provide.

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  14. Marveaux has the most key passes this season, we have scored one goal and that came from a Remy pass whem Marveaux was not on the pitch ?

    Don’t knock Saylor, have you ever noticed his dancing when he concedes a handball penalty, his dancing is legendary, he would be a cert for Strictly Come Dancing, and you have to have bags of flair to be on that show, who needs Benny, put Saylor on the wing he’s proved his dancing, I’m sure he could do it through a defence ?, well mebee’s not.

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