After having enjoyed a breathtaking first season in the Barclays Premier league with both the quality and the quantity of goals, this season, if anything, has been a reality check for the Toon no 9 Papiss Cisse.
Newcastle United this term have played 42 competitive games and Cisse has been a starter in the majority of the line ups selected by Alan Pardew. However with a goal return of just 8 (6*PL, 1*Europa and 1*Capital One cup), he has failed to recapture the blistering form he showed last season.
Yes, one could argue that throughout the season, Cisse has had to play wide on the right, being used more as a provider of chances rather than a finisher. Furthermore, he has been in a side that, in addition to being too thin, has also unfortunatley been ravaged by injuries.
The fact remains, however, that Cisse has missed some gilt-edged chances and for a striker that evidently does have the calibre to finish, it is disappointing to say the least.
The two that immediately spring to mind are the header at home against Manchester United and one at home to Chelsea; these are two of many that should have been buried. Everyone loves a screamer but it is the bread and butter strikes that garner the bulk of the points.
The lack of goals from Cisse is a surprise to many, including me, as the striker has never endured such a dry spell in his career. He has been a regular goal scorer at both domestic and international level. At SC Freiburg he had a great record goal scoring record (37 in 65 games), especially keeping in mind he was playing for a side that would find itself close to the foot of the table. It was this form that prompted Mike Ashley to shell out close to £10 million to land their man.
Goal scoring is not the only thing that the striker has been poor with; many fans have been disappointed with his hold up play and failing to bring teammates into play. In addition to all of this, he currently has just 1 assist in the premier league, the penalty that he earned against Wigan Athletic.
In 26 games he has been caught offside 25 times and has been poor with his heading ability. It could just be a confidence thing; a hurdle that near-on every player experiences at least once in their career; you just have to hope that this is just one of those things and not a sign of things to come.
Newcastle United are currently 15th in the league table having accumulated 30 points from 28 games. Although the threat of relegation should not be a concern, a few good results are still needed to put away any lingering doubts that some of the supporters may have. The Europa league, I believe, has been a priority for the club throughout the season and something which we are still in the running for – the possibility of a first trophy since the Fairs Cup in 1969.
We hope there are more, but as things stand there are at least 12 games remaining for Newcastle and there remain targets that are still yet to be met by the club. We hope the club’s coaching staff and the player himself sort the whole thing out ASAP.
Newcastle now have a fully fit squad to choose from and Cisse as the senior central striker should have ample service to score a hatful of goals. It will be a real acid test for the striker and it could determine his future at the club – it could well shape the clubs transfer policy for the summer.
Of course, there have been some signs of improvement since the departure of Demba Ba, notably last week’s screamer against Southampton, but he is still no way near where the club and the supporters want him to be. One just has to hope that he pulls his socks up and brings about some much needed urgency in his play so he can start knocking them in from 5 as well as 35 yards.