Monday, February 28, 2011

The quiet life

Jermaine Jenas may have famously fled the "goldfish bowl", swapping Newcastle for London to escape the close scrutiny of the local media and fans, but speaking to the Daily Heil Cheik Tiote has claimed he decided to stay put for exactly the opposite reason. Far from finding Tyneside an unbearable pressure cooker atmosphere, he sees it as somewhere for a quiet life - unlike the capital: "Newcastle life is good for me. It is not like London - London is too busy, there are too many people. Newcastle is not so busy. That makes it easier to focus on your job. For me it is important."

Of course, the real revelation of the interview is the fact that there was a genuine approach for Tiote on transfer deadline day, from Chelsea, and that we were able to cling on to him. No doubt that prompted his new six-and-a-half-year contract - though, as the Journal's Stuart Rayner pointed out, the deal "is less a financial arrangement between club and midfielder, more a series of statements of intent".

Some, Rayner notes, may perceive the deal as arguably being "naively romantic" - but, on the contrary, it may actually be hard-nosed pragmatism. Perhaps we're resigned to losing the Ivorian in the summer and Jabba's determined to ensure he reaps maximum profit. Rocky all over again, in other words.

Ultimately, though, could we see Tiote being good enough to play for one of the sides in contention to qualify for next season's Champions League? The answer has to be yes - and, as painful and damaging as his loss would undoubtedly be, we couldn't really begrudge him that opportunity given the immense contribution he's already made to our season.




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