For the life of me I cannot understand why Newcastle United and manager Alan Pardew refuse to play, undoubtedly the clubs most gifted player, Hatem Ben Arfa.
At a time when the team is struggling for goals, creativity, attacking influence and a player the fans can look forward to going to see we seem intent on benching him.
When attending matches I often hear fans voicing their frustration at Ben Arfa when he is given game time berating him for being lazy, trying to do everything on his own, not passing the ball and not tracking back or tackling. However, I ask these fans, many of whom attended, like I did, the midweek game against Everton “How often did you see Deulofeu doing exactly what it is you crave Ben Arfa to do?” and similar could be said of Messrs Silva, Hazard, Mata and further afield Messi and Ronaldo . The answer would be very rarely if at all. I am by no means putting Ben Arfa in that bracket of world class talent but surely the reason Deulofeu plays is for what he can do in an attacking sense. He was a constant thorn in Newcastle’s side, hugging the touchline on the right wing and dribbling at pace towards goal. I certainly don’t hear many giving Ben Arfa stick when he assists a goal, creates a chance or makes 1 or 2 defenders look like amateurs.
Everton’s philosophy, being far different to that of the home side regarding a talented and gifted player, was to ensure he was given space and time to be one on one with Newcastle’s left back. Long diagonal balls were played frequently to Deulofeu who was given freedom from the shackles of defensive duties to just go and do what he does best…attack. Perhaps Pardew’s tactical limitations or inability to get the best out of Ben Arfa is the reason we are seldom able to witness his talents or see his potential truly fulfilled.
In a drab game against a Crystal Palace side that played 10 behind the ball for the majority of the game the spark needed to win the game came from Ben Arfa. In the closing stages against Everton a piece of Ben Arfa brilliance in the box presented Anita with a golden opportunity.
Can any Newcastle fan remember Keegan or Robson dropping the likes of Ginola, Asprilla, Fox and Robert for not tracking back? I doubt it! These were talented players allowed to express themselves on the football pitch and ultimately allowed to entertain. Players who cover the whole pitch, track back, close down and get stuck in are ten a penny. The premier league is littered with them but how many clubs have a player of Ben Arfa’s ability other than the obvious top 6.
I fear we may not see Ben Arfa in the black and white next season due to the mind set of our current management and I for one will be bitterly disappointed. Should we really be accepting players like De Jong, Cisse, Gouffran and Anita getting more game time than a player who has more talent than all of them?