Friday, March 11, 2011

Unfit for purpose

What odds Shefki Kuqi getting more game time for us this season than much more vaunted signings Stephen Ireland, Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling? Short and getting shorter by the day.

Alan Pardew suggested yesterday that we're keen on securing Ireland's services on a permanent basis - though, of course, he's got to make it off the treatment table and onto the pitch in Toon colours first. That long-awaited first appearance looks to have been deferred again with the news that he's now picked up a thigh strain - partly the result, Pardew conceded, of our eagerness to rush him back: "I think we're at fault a little bit". Just another instance of self-inflicted damage, given that exactly the same fate befell Gosling - ten minutes as a substitute at the Stadium of Shite and he's not been seen since.

But might we actually be learning from our mistakes? Pardew has also dampened optimism that Ben Arfa might make a return to action before the end of the current campaign, arguing that "the most important thing is Hatem is 100% when he plays". A case of the stable door being bolted long after at least a couple of horses have galloped off into the distance, but hopefully it might mark the advent of a new pragmatic caution with regard to rehabilitation.

In fairness to Pardew, though, you can understand his desperation to get players back. We're likely to be without all of the above trio for the trip to Stoke, plus ASBO, possibly Spidermag and the suspended Ryan Taylor. Presumably there's no recall clause in the loan deal that took Wayne Routledge to QPR, or else we would have exacerbated their woes and brought him back to Tyneside by now. A shame, as he's rediscovered his mojo back at his old Loftus Road stamping ground and could have been a useful asset in our hour of need.

(Incidentally, also of interest among Pardew's comments about Ireland was the claim that "he needs to know he is important and he could be here. If he doesn't feel important he doesn't play his best." Arrogance is one thing, but a lack of self-confidence and an ego in constant need of flattery is arguably a more worrying trait in a player.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to hear Ireland is lined up to replace Joey Barton. Watching clips of NUFC play, it is Barton who is so often making the perfect pass to spring a player free. Until Barton loses that skill, he should be an integral part of the squad. Until Ireland shows me the level of passing skill Barton has, I'd keep him under the care of Dr. Freud.

12:13 pm  

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