Newcastle’s January splurge into the transfer market has certainly strengthened their squad, especially after the gap Demba Ba left upon moving to Chelsea.
The addition of Gouffran to complement Cisse as Newcastle’s main striker could however, have adverse ramifications for Newcastle’s long serving marksman Shola Ameobi. Ameobi, now 31, has been at the club ever since his teenage years and has provided many years of dedicated service, but does he still have a role to play at St James’ Park?
This year Alan Pardew has often favoured playing Amoebi on the right hand side of a 4-2-3-1 formation, and he has only appeared as a centre forward in the cup competitions where weakened sides have been played.
While he has hardly ever been prolific (his best season only yielded 10 league goals and that was in the Championship) he has scored vitally important goals throughout his career. Yet, in this wider role this campaign he has really struggled, and in the last home game against Reading the fans were quick to jump on his back whenever he touched the ball.
In all honesty, he had a terrible game and this is sadly not the first time he’s been below par in the 2012/13 season. 3 goals in his last 42 Premiership games is simply not good enough, and it does raise the question of whether he is needed at Newcastle any more, especially given his advancing years. He simply isn’t a right winger, and playing him there is not only hurting his reputation amongst the Newcastle fans who just adore him for his ‘Mackem slaying’ past, but also the team. In the current situation, the team cannot afford to carry players.
With Cisse and Gouffran expected to be significantly higher than him in the pecking order, Amoebi could well find first team opportunities limited in the run in, especially with Newcastle exiting the FA Cup so early (where Ameobi earned himself a red card). There is also the interesting prospect of Adam Campbell, who appears to be highly rated by the backroom staff at Newcastle.
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin of Shola Ameobi could be the reported interest from Newcastle to sign a new striker. Amid rumours of a bid for Wilfried Bony, there’s no doubt that the club want to bring in a prolific replacement for Demba Ba.
The Daily Mail reported towards the end of last week that the club had made an offer in the region of £12 million, and even if though the deal has since been denied, I fully expect the club to follow up their interest in the Summer for the Ivorian. Either way, it’s already looking bleak for Ameobi and could get worse.
There’s unlikely to be a clamor of top-flight clubs wanting Ameobi’s signature, and if Newcastle do deem him surplus to requirements he may well have to drop down to the Championship or head abroad.
However, what must be remembered is that the man who once jested about how the great Sir Bobby Robson used to call him Carl Cort accidentally has been a great servant to the club over the years. Nobody in the North East will forget his goals against the great enemy, and even earlier this season he delivered a crucial late winner against QPR.
If this does prove to be his final season, he can leave with his head held high. Yet, it might be best he does exit soon to avoid tarnishing his reputation further.
Do you think Shola Ameobi can still offer something for Newcastle, or should he be offloaded? What’s your favourite memory of Ameobi playing for the Magpies? Get in touch on the site through the comments section, or join the debate on Twitter.
By Harry Aitkenhead