Sissoko and Coke

Key this season

Key this season

Hope you all got that pun, otherwise that headline just looks silly.

As you all know, I’m a little bit hard on Alan Pardew. It’s not because I don’t like him on a personal level (I don’t like him in case you were wondering) it’s simply because he has a habit of doing everything wrong.

Moussa Sissoko is a perfect example of how Pardew can get it so horrifically wrong at times that one could only liken it to car-crash management. What do you think of when someone mentions a #10? Personally I think of a crafty, fleet-footed attacking midfield player. Someone who can drop in between the lines, pick up the ball and deliver a wicked through ball that no one else could have spotted. I think of someone like Chelsea’s Oscar, or Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla. Ask Alan Pardew the exact same question? His answer is Moussa Sissoko. Sissoko is many things, but he is certainly not a #10.

I’ve heard some ridiculous criticisms of Sissoko such as he can’t pass a ball, or that his vision is not good enough. I’ve also heard someone saying that his performances slipped somewhat after his fantastic performances in the wins away to Villa and home to Chelsea. However, one only has to look towards Alan Pardew in trying to explain why his spark faded slightly towards the end of last season. In Sissoko’s first few games he was used as a deep box-to-box midfield player, a role that suits his natural ability. Needless to say he shone in those games and played a massive part in those aforementioned victories. In a lot of the games that followed Pardew tended to use him, either as a second striker/#10 or as a right-winger, neither role of which suits his abilities so a dip in form was to be expected. It is also no coincidence that Sissoko’s impressive performance against Fulham came from his more customary midfield position.

Just as I feel that Anita is key to any success we may have this season, so too, do I think Sissoko is important. As long as Pardew plays these two players in the correct fashion in a 4-3-3 formation, then Anita and Sissoko, along with Cabaye, could form a formidable midfield trio.

The key to playing decent football sounds so simple – that’s because it is! Play your best players, in a formation that best suits their respective abilities, in individual roles that will get the best from them. For Sissoko this means allowing him to carry the ball from deep, giving him free rein to go up and down the field, and having plenty of pace and movement up front so he has someone to collect the ball from him.

For large parts of last season we were simply too static up front. By playing Sissoko further up the field this only served to make the problem worse as Sissoko is one of the few players we have in the squad capable of injecting a bit of energy into the side.

Alan, you have plenty of good players available to you. Unleash them and let them play some football, and then I can get back to finally feeling good about the on-field product. That would only leave the off-field nonsense to be addressed…the trials and tribulations of being a Newcastle United supporter eh?

What do you think? Do you agree that Sissoko will be an important player this season? Or do you think there are better options in the squad? Let me know your views.




  1. Sissoko should be used in the exact same way as Diame at West Ham or Toure at City. Personally I think Sissoko is similar in style to those two and somewhere in the middle quality wise. Love his powerful runs from deep. He also has the strength and power to cut out attacks and win the ball back when required.


    1. I completely agree.

      What is that Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree it will spend its life believing that it is stupid”

      If we insist on playing Sissoko on the right wing, or as a second striker, then the fans will believe him to be a poor player. But if we play him in that box-to-box role then he will flourish.

      How can everyone but Pardew see this?


      1. Nice quote, hadn’t heard that before!
        It’s hard to believe Pardew sometimes. To be fair Moussa did play well in the number 10 role in his first two games, but I suspect that was mainly from the extra adrenaline from being at a new club. After the rest of his games you could clearly see he was more suited to playing deeper.
        But that should have been spotted ages before now anyway, we were surely watching him play for months prior to signing him.
        It’s a mystery haha!


        1. In his first few games he was playing a deeper role, it was only in the games after that that he was pushed further and further up field. I remember against Chelsea that he ran from deep in a CDM role for his first goal but think he was a bit further forward for his second goal.

          As for scouting him, sure Toulouse apparently played him on the right wing too! Madness! haha Needless to say, he should be playing from deep. In the PL you can’t be a top player being a “jack of all trades, master of none” type player.


  2. Dam do I feel stupid now! Haha!
    Seriously, he played RW for Toulouse?! That really is madness. He could turn into a World Class CM if he is coached right, he has pace to burn and is a real powerhouse.


    1. If only we were coaching him eh? Haha

      Think it’s clear, with his ability, he is best suited to the middle of the park as a powerful runner with the ball.

      In a midfield 3 with Anita and Cabaye, that could be devastating!


      1. I posted this team on Eds blog after we signed Remy,


        Wrote a big section on how it should be flexible etc, Debuch and Santoon taking turns at bombing down wings, Remy and HBA hitting the back post when the other has it on the wing, Cabs, Anita and Moussa taking turns at sitting back/going forwards…. But I really can’t be bothered to right it all out again right now.

        Got overlooked by most posters, as do most line ups, but it looks like I have predicted most peoples current starting 11 ;)….

        SIGN ME UP!!!


        1. That actually is pretty close to what I would pick, if Cisse was on form. I know Gouffran isn’t clinical but he’s more versatile than Cisse so I would put HBA, Remy and Gouffran up front and let them drift, and have Cisse on the bench.


        2. Give Cisse a couple of games with Remy that team/formation to see how he goes. If it doesn’t work for him, bring in Gouf


        3. In my mind, for 4-3-3 to work, you can’t have a rigid centre forward in there, which is what Cisse is. Look at how Sturridge plays it for Liverpool, very fluid, coming down the channels to pick up the ball and allowing someone else to occupy the middle space in his absence. Cisse cannot do that because he is useless with a ball at his feet.

          Unless he’s taking one touch to shoot the ball towards goal he’s as useful as a chocolate teapot. I say stick in Gouffran and be done with it. At the very least it will sharpen Cisse.


  3. Yeah maybe you’re right. However I prefer to play with a target man in the central 3, however we only have Shola, so that aint an option. Maybe Gouffran is the way to go. I have a funny feeling Cisse is going to score a couple against the Villains though. Could well be a highscoring game.


    1. If we set up the right way and shake off this fear of losing then we could well see an entertaining game against an ever improving Aston Villa side. If we set up the way Pardew usually does away from home I think we’re in for a bore 0-0 or a defeat.


  4. Personally i think Pardew plays Moussa so far up the pitch because of a lack of confidence in Cisse. He provides another “big” man further up the pitch… completely agree he needs to be played deeper by the way and we can only hope for a high scoring match


    1. Good to have you aboard Ben. I agree with your assessment that Pardew is probably worried about isolating Cisse so he shoves Sissoko up the field for support, but this is taking away from Sissoko’s natural game and stopping him from truly effecting the game.

      Personally, I would like to see a 4-3-3 (I’m going on and on and on about it) with Sissoko deep and Cisse on the bench leaving us with an interchangeable front three of Remy, Gouffran and Ben Arfa.

      We might not see it tomorrow but I’d like to see it happen at some stage, especially if Cisse isn’t scoring. He cannot think he is automatic starter any more.


  5. But the thing is, Cabaye has a natural tendency these days to drop down to the halfwayline and collect the ball from the centre halfs.. something mirrored by Anita. Now if we want Sissoko to be box to box, doesn’t it overpopulate the CDM area. It can be argued that Cabaye should be the furthest forward of our midfield 3, and we have seen that t was a success in 2011/12. However you would note that he likes to come deep to pick out the long fwd pass(to Debuchy mostly 🙂 most of the time these days.

    So the problem is: a gap between the mid 3 and the attacking 3(Cisse, Remy, Benny). How do we solve that? Can we not play
    Ben Arfa–Marveaux–Gouffran


    1. Well I would like to see Cabaye not pushed very far forward but drifting forward and back, trying to strike a balance. Anita is also versatile enough that he is comfortable enough playing a little bit further up the field too due to his great passing ability so if they can form a decent partnership and communicate well there wouldn’t necessarily have to be any form of congestion. Sissoko wouldn’t really be stopping in any position, he’d be running up and down the field constantly.

      I don’t have any faith in the 4-2-3-1 formation, not because it doesn’t work, because Chelsea have proved it does work. But because of the way Pardew plays it. He plays it with defensive wingers who leave the striker isolated, whereas it is a predominantly attack minded formation.

      As far as I’m concerned, it’s a midfield 3 or nothing.


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