Newcastle United’s performance on Saturday was a joy to watch with some superb individual performances, a generally good team display, as well as seeing some players who had previously struggled, step up to the mark and have a decent game.
Without trying to make any player a scapegoat, there was one player’s performance that really disappointed me, and he has been disappointing me for well over 12 months now. That player is, of course, Papiss Cisse. The once prolific striker failed to find the back of the net once more (or even come close to it) and has now went 10 league games without scoring – his last coming in the dramatic last minute winner he scored at home to Fulham on 7th April.
I don’t know about you, but I find it wholly unacceptable for a striker to go 10 games in this league without scoring, and this is something that must be addressed. While I accept that, at times, due to formations and playing in a role that did not best suit his talents, Papiss was isolated, and therefore never likely to score goals, I personally feel that his all round game is not good enough, and he is not versatile enough to consistently provide for this team. While we may not exactly be flush with options in this area of the field, it would appear that, while using 4-3-3, Alan Pardew has an opportunity to bench Papiss Cisse – an option the Newcastle United manager must avail of.
The time has come to really test Pardew’s ambition for this team. The time has come for him to really show the Newcastle United fans that he truly is ready to make the most of what limited resources he has. If I was Alan Pardew, I would use our upcoming home game to newly promoted Hull as an opportunity to try a front three of Remy down the middle, with Gouffran and Ben Arfa either side of him. Gouffran has come in for some criticism this season for some relatively easy misses in previous games, but he has, at the very least, been getting into goal scoring positions, something which Cisse has not been doing. In our win against Villa on Saturday, Gouffran looked very good in his cameo from the bench, and in the 30 mins he was on the field he managed to do something that Cisse has not managed to do in just shy of 900 minutes – score a goal!
If you combine this with Gouffran’s ability to run the channels well and his willingness to work hard for the team, then surely there is a strong case to be made that Gouffran should definitely be starting ahead of Cisse.
As for playing Remy down the middle? While some fans may be sceptical of doing this, given how good he has looked in the few times we have seen him down the left wing, it is important to note that Remy himself sees his natural position as playing centrally. The fact that he scored 6 goals in 14 games for QPR, a side that fought (and ultimately lost) a battle against relegation, it would seem that playing Remy down the middle in a side playing with increasing confidence, could pay dividends.
Last week I laid down a gauntlet for Pardew – play 4-3-3. To be fair to the Newcastle United manager, he responded in kind. This week, I am laying down a new gauntlet – bench Papiss Cisse. However, if the Newcastle United manager does not respond in kind this time around, I will be decidedly less harsh on him. The gradual return to full fitness of loan signing Loic Remy, as well as the hope that, in this new 4-3-3, Papiss Cisse will rekindle the kind of form he showed when he first signed for Newcastle United, could well see Pardew stick with Cisse, for now. However, it will be interesting to see what the manager does if Cisse doesn’t start finding the back of the net, and soon.
What do you think? Are you in team Gouffran, or team Cisse? Which player better suits playing in the 4-3-3 that seems to be clicking? Does Cisse deserve more time or have you had enough of him? I’d love to hear your views.