Going through my daily routine of gobbling up the morsels of Newcastle United related news has become part of my daily ritual. Sometimes you come across reports that infuriate, interest and bore you, all in the same article. Don’t worry folks, I’m only aiming for the first two!
However, there are also times when you stumble across an article that is simply not true. Usually these articles come under the headlines of ‘Mike Ashley has ambition for Newcastle United’ or ‘Pardew believe Newcastle can finish top 6’ or ‘Toon to sign a striker this summer’ et al. In my trawling of the inter-web, I stumbled across an article entitled ‘Ben Arfa is a team player’ and I nearly spat my coffee all over myself.
Here is what wor Hatem had to say today,
“I’ll play anywhere on the pitch if the gaffer thinks it’s best for the team.
“I’ll give 100 per cent anywhere he puts me.
“I’m a professional football player – I have to give everything on the pitch. It is the same for all the players.
“I’ll play anywhere – just not goalkeeper!”
When Ben Arfa is on form, he is unplayable. He is beautiful with a ball at his feet and on his day he can rival some of the very best in the league. However, despite the fact that he is not consistently on his game enough to be a regular asset to the team, my other major gripe is that he is single-handedly one of the laziest players I have ever had the displeasure of watching. Let me make this abundantly clear – He is a fantastic footballer. When he is good, he is brilliant. However, when he is off the boil (which is more often than not) the man is an absolute liability so much so that even Ameobi would be more useful.
Ben Arfa does not even give 100% in his regular position, so how the hell are we to believe that he will give 100% if he was played in a position that was unfamiliar and uncomfortable for him?
It would serve HBA well to look at the performances of one Yoan Gouffran and take a leaf out of his book. Gouffran is nowhere near as technically gifted as Ben Arfa, but the man is full of heart and spirit. He runs the channels and does the leg work that you would never ever see Ben Arfa do. He covers for his full back when he is away for a wander, he threatens the opposition full back with his own incisive running, and as his assist for Remy’s goal against Spurs showed, he can actually be pretty handy with the ball.
I’m not asking for 100% from Ben Arfa because we will never get that from him (part of the reason why I think we should cut our losses and move him on) but if he were to even give 75% effort, and try to become more consistent, then I would think a lot more of him.
So to summaries. Yes, he is a fantastic footballer. Yes, there are worse players than him. No, I do not think he is world-class. Yes, I do think we would be a more rounded team without him. Yes, I do think we should sell him. No, his ability is not once in a generation, and if Newcastle United were run properly we would be seeing players of his ilk coming into this club on a regular basis.