I have some very strong views about International football – it’s pointless – but that is not what I want to talk about. France have overhauled a 2-0 deficit to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and all Newcastle United fans are delighted for the French contingent that we have playing for the Toon. That seems to make sense. Are we happy because we get to see some of our players on the top stage of world football? Are we happy for them personally? Perhaps to an extent, but the overriding feeling seems to be that we are happy France have qualified because of a fear that these French players would not have been motivated to play for Newcastle United otherwise.
I actually happen to agree that that would have been the case had France not qualified and it makes me sick to my stomach even considering that possibility, never mind actually agreeing with the concept. Any player, regardless of nationality, inclusion in their national set up or qualification for an international tournament should be 100% motivated to play for Newcastle United 100% of the time. Players like Gary Speed never played in a World Cup yet he always gave his all. Nobby Solano was the 1st name selected for Peru yet he always fought for the black and white stripes. Shay Given was Ireland’s No 1 goalkeeper and only ever got to 1 international tournament yet his mind was never primarily focused on Ireland. I could name many more in years gone by whose focus was always on the black and white stripes of Newcastle, yet it would appear that the fans no longer have faith in some of our players to motivate themselves to play for us, and that tells a sad tale in itself.
Which leads me to my next question ‘why do fans think our players have a hard time motivating themselves to play for us?’ The answer to that question is a very straightforward one. Why would top players like Yohan Cabaye, Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy have any reason to give 100% for a club who wishes to achieve nothing more than mid-table for the foreseeable future? Why should they give everything they have when they get little in return ? Without a World Cup to play towards, I would have foreseen some grumblings from a certain Mr Cabaye in the January transfer window, luckily any such requests will probably wait until he has returned from his World Cup exploits.
Are we to blame these players for this? Well they have responsibility to give their all for the club that pays their wages regardless of said club’s ambitions, but I can certainly understand why they may not have. Instead of blaming Cabaye for wanting to leave, instead of cursing Remy for leaving us next summer (most likely) and instead of begrudging any player in this current set-up who is not giving his all for this team, perhaps we should be asking the question “why?”. If you do that then I think we all know that the club has more to answer for than any of these players do.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all of our French contingent for qualifying for the World Cup, you have probably saved us from an embarrassing January. Hope you all perform well in the shop window…I mean World Cup.