Can Ben Arfa be our creative saviour?

Players are ready to fight, says Tiote

The pressure of expectation. Much expectation has been laid on the shoulders of a certain Hatem Ben Arfa, who is expected to make his competitive return from injury against Nottingham Forrest in the Carling Cup next week

This is seen as great news for some of our fans and I believe it is… but is he that good?

Some say he is going to work the wonders in our team by converting our now seemingly impotent attacking play into something that can scare and truly threaten opposition defences. Just ONE player?

Despite our supposed quality and strength being in the midfield area, our players have shown very little creativity and fluidity in the midfield area so far this season. Fans and the manager have both mentioned the importance of Ben Arfa’s return to the team because of his special ability to create a goal or chance out of nothing – but are we putting to much expectation and pressure on a player who has been out of the game for over a year?

While Ben Arfa on his day is certainly a special talent, he is by no means proven in terms of consistency or goalscoring prowess.

Now 24-years-old, Ben Arfa has been on the scene since 2004, where his record at his previous club’s goes as follows:

Year Club Appearances Goals
2004-2008 Lyon 64 7
2008-2010 Marseille 63 9
Newcastle 2010-Present 4 1

Now, while there is no doubt the our number 10 has the potential to become a Newcastle United great, for me personally, he still has a lot to prove and should be given the time prove it.

One goal every 8 games in his career so far also indicates that perhaps we shouldn’t be relying on him to be the man who is going to bring the goals we have been lacking so far this season.

I just feel that for a young man who has suffered two serious injuries in the past season and for someone who is barely blooded in the Premier League (despite the amount of time he has been here) fans need to be realistic.

The same hype was built up around Yohan Cabaye because of his pre-season performances and now some fans, incredibly, are criticising him because he hasn’t lit the Premier League alight in his first four games.

Ben Arfa himself has had one quality performance against Everton which saw him score a scorcher from outside the area but that doesn’t mean he is going to replicate that performance week in week out.

Sometimes as Toon supporters, I truly believe we are the masters of our own disappointments because we set our expectations of players and the team too high.

We had the same hype when signing Fabricio Coloccini, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique as they all came with big reputations. But they all delivered so little in their first season. It took a full season in the Championship, adjusting to the British style, for Coloccini and Enrique to shine and a season for Joey to get over his off the field issues and injury before he showed his ability.

If Cheik Tiote had been signed this season and put in the performances he has he would be getting torrents of abuse and he would be written off as a complete flop with fans criticising the board for buying cheap.

Yet we know what he is capable of, so we show patience.

As we have seen, there was an outcry and huge disappointment when these players moved on, yet had they been sold off after their first disappointing season, some fans would have
been delighted.

I think one of our biggest strengths after coming up from relegation was that it injected a bit of realism into our supporters who, for once, never had any expectations beyond the hope of survival and as a result – we over achieved.

Let’s continue to keep that realism. Let’s not expect too much from the likes of Cabaye and Ben Arfa until they’ve had that half a season of playing to settle down, learn the British game and gain some confidence. They certainly have the ability.

Half a season might seem a long time but its less time that some other former fan favourites like Nolan, Barton, Carroll and Enrique got.

I highlight Ben Arfa because he is not the one building himself up as our hero and superstar, that is the fans, so don’t get on his back if he doesn’t live up to your inflated expectations for some time to come.

About Moreno

Raised in Tyneside and now spreading the Gospel of Shola down in shandyland! Follow @MorenoToon on Twitter !

46 thoughts on “Can Ben Arfa be our creative saviour?

  1. Reading Leon Bests interview in the Journal today – comes across as a cracking down to earth focussed fella.

    Hope he gets a decent run – prefer one striker though – we’re getting overran in MF at the month and the front line is a bit too far upfield from the MF – probably because of the coverage they are having to provide to Raylor and obviously because of the positionally inept Saylor (its always his fault 😆 )


  2. I think stats on his assists would be helpful too- as I see this as where his greatest impact could be:
    2009/10 Marseille: 39 games (started 21 of these) – goals 7; assists 4.
    (not exaclty stunning reaidng)
    2008/9: Marseille: 49 games (starts 30) – goals 9; assists 7 – okay I guess.
    2007/8: Lyon: 41 Games (24 starts) – goals 9; assists 5 – again, average.

    From the limited amount I have seen, I am hopeful that he can be an extremley good player – but the jury does have to remain out (stats are facts!) – he’s either never been a nailed on number one choice at any of his clubs or he’s very injury prone – judging by the amount of times he’s been sub as opposed to starting.
    If he can keep fit and play every game then who knows? This may be exactly what he needs to really become a class player – ever hopeful and excited by hhis return – but don’t feel like he is a banker in terms of socring goals and creating by any means!
    Watch this space I guess!


  3. Nice one! people need to start being a bit more realistic. HBA probably reads these blogs and there is so much expectation he is probably scared to go on the pitch in-case he cant make the ball vanish into the oppositions net.
    Speaking of which, there was so much hype last time he came back,maybe he has a magic injury.
    Ease off the lad,(HE IS NOT GOD) give him time to settle and i’m sure we will have a legend on our hands. Good luck Hatem.


  4. Hatem needs time to play himself back to fitness without all this adulation as a “Saviour” thrust upon him.
    I just hope the guy doesn’t buckle under the pressure of trying to get fit AND be the Wonderboy the fans are expecting him to be.
    If he stays fit I think it will be NEXT season when we see the best of him.
    I just pray, however, he isn’t another Dyer.


  5. @stardust when hes in tup tup nightclub getting his six pack out he goes down in my opioion but thats all it is opinion

    ref articule i just hope hes given time hes been out a long time and he is still brand new to the premiership but i know i cant wait to see him back =)


  6. I am of the belief that he is being built up far too much.

    Yes we have seen glimpses of quality but as someone mentioned, the stats speak for themselves (in a weaker league IMO)

    Real quality is producing the goods week in week out.

    Seen posters mention that he is (in their opinion) the most talented player in the PL.

    A bit of realism, if that was the case he wouldn’t be with is and wouldn’t have cost what he did. Amazing our fans can see something that all the best scouts in the world can’t.

    Not trying to appear as if I am bashing him though as he is our best player


  7. for me, i have no idea how good he will be and i am scratching my head when people say things like ‘While Ben Arfa on his day is certainly a special talent’ and other similar comments….. well, er how do we actually know if he is or isnt? its all just hope and talk at best and there is zero to say he is anything amazing at all, he could be crap for all we know. dont get me wrong, i am not saying he is.. i am just saying.. that nothing can be known about him yet.. his stats indicate he was distinctly average before a double leg break in a weak league…hmmmmm


  8. Icepup – didn’t think the pic was outrageous – they said they were sober and having a laugh – I prefer well balanced personality than nondescript or at the opposite end Nile Ranger!


  9. moreno…. i dont think he is our best player at all, that is a bit of a bold statement off four games in his entire newcastle career. what about krul, colo and taylor? for me they are all better at this time, infact everyone other than strolelr his better than him at this time lol lol


  10. Don`t agree he is the most talented player in the PL, that`s just silly talk. Do agree he has to be given time, probably two months at least before judging consistency at all. I do however think we will see glimpses in the meantime and the importance of having him back, for me personally, is due to how it will have an impact on performances, as a team and individuals too. Won`t go into the why that is, will be a very long post!

    Also think Toonsy mentioned something yesterday that was a good point for those that think everything he touches will turn to gold. He is the type of player who will always take a risk to try and make something happen. Some of it comes off, some of it doesnt. He will frustrate at times so fans will have to be careful not to get on his back during games with such heightened expectancy.

    As for the fee we paid for him. The reason we got him for £6.5m has nothing to do with talent, actually would have cost us nearly double that if he had played over 25 games while on loan, think the fee was around £11m, which some would say probably would have meant we wouldnt have bought him at all.

    Finally, I think stats on certain players can be inaccurate and make them look less effective or consistent. Especially when it comes to just goalscoring stats on midfield players who have played most of their career as a winger or coming from the bench (which had nothing to do with injuries). The stats mentioned, in my opinion, don`t speak for themselves at all in this case, having watched him for three years previous to coming to England.

    Obviously i`m a big Ben Arfa fan and do think, given time, he will prove why the expectancy is there. Was raging I missed out on the discussion yesterday so there`s my two cents.


  11. Moreno – (7) I agree.
    Regrettably the boy could be one of the biggest stars this club has had or one of the biggest disappointments.
    Unfortunately we are only one horrendously timed challenge away from finding out.


  12. Really hope he is the creative spark we need. He has the talent, just needs to use it.

    Slightly off topic, but anyone got an opinion on Fabio Zamblera? Extremely bright prospect that we have let go? Huge shame IMO.


  13. Craig,

    I would say that ‘on paper’ he is our best player and would be interested to see if that shows on MarkToons ‘view from the away end’ articles.

    Obviously different players bring different things to the team but for footballing ability I would be surprised if we did a poll and he wasn’t classed as our best player ‘on paper’


  14. He’s mint. Clearly. That Everton performance…wow. Last NUFC player who had the ability to be that much better than everyone else on the pitch on a given day was Mr. Ginola

    Doesn’t mean he’s going to do it every game like… and I’m sure most people don’t expect him to

    Hopefully he can be injury-free from here on in…


  15. I do not believe he is one of the most talented players as that would imply he’s a quality all-round player. He’s not, he is however, very talented at dribbling and shooting which is something we’re craving in the middle of the park, even his acceleration is going to be massive.

    If he wasn’t a good player though Mancini wouldn’t have ordered De Jong to take him out as early as possible so it’s not just us who think he is a good player it’s there for all to see.

    I do believe that his goal v Everton was a one-off though, but it’s just exciting to see him back.


  16. moreno… loll oll ol lol ….. ronaldo comparion is prob the most outrageous one i have ever seen… perhaps that ronaldo scored 42 goals in first season in la liga and hold the record for most goals scored in history of it, plus doign it in the prem too… that is very funny mate.. nice one


  17. I think Ben Arfa is capable of getting us up off our feet, but pike I said tge other day he is equally as capable of frustrating, like all flair players. Im not judging him yet as he is essentially a new signing, but he could be great for us. A real maverick.


  18. Hopefully the injuries will be distant memory at the end of a really productive season for Ben Arfa and he realises his full potential in the black and White stripes of the toon.
    Putting a bet on for us to win by two clear goals the day. Cabaye will score our first mark my words. Toon Toon


  19. I could have used many players in the analogy.

    Point is, due to what you see or know, you can make an assumption that someone is the best in the team, without them kicking a ball.

    We are a very average side with some above average players. Ben Arfa is a class above and I know that with the 4 games last season or without them.


  20. I never saw him as a goals scorer but as somebody who could make goals, bring the ball forward into the final third and somebody occupy the thoughts of the opposition. We currently lack this.


  21. ok moreno… are you implying that arfa has been as huge a sucess at all his other clubs as ronaldo has been ??? please dont tell me you equate a total of 17 goals since 2004 to ……..

    154 goals in 261 games combinde for man utd and real in samer time frame… there is zero comparison…. plus breaking all the records in the books….. see below and then tell me they are the same and comparisons can be made..

    I admire your loyalty to arfa and nufc but arfa and ronaldo are light years appart.. sorry mate!

    Ronaldo was the first player to win all four main PFA and FWA awards, doing so in 2007. In 2008, Ronaldo won the Champions League with United, was named best forward and player of the tournament and was the competition’s top goalscorer as well as winning the European Golden Shoe, becoming the first winger to do so, and topping the Premier League Golden Boot award. He won three of the four main PFA and FWA trophies, only missing the PFA Young Player of the Year, and was named the FIFPro, World Soccer and Onze d’Or Footballer of the Year[6][7][8] and the FIFA World Player of the Year, in addition to becoming Manchester United’s first Ballon d’Or winner in 40 years.[9] Ronaldo holds the distinction of being the first player to win the FIFA Puskás Award, an honour handed by FIFA to the best goal of the year. He scored that goal from 40 yards out against FC Porto in a UEFA Champions League quarter-final match, while playing for Manchester United.[10] Three-time Ballon d’Or winner Johan Cruyff said in an interview on 2 April 2008, “Ronaldo is better than George Best and Denis Law, who were two brilliant and great players in the history of United.”[11]

    On 15 May 2011, Ronaldo became the highest goalscorer in a season in the history of Real Madrid with 51 goals, surpassing the club’s previous high of 49 by Ferenc Puskás. He would later finish the season with a total of 53 goals, making him the first Real Madrid player to ever reach and surpass 50 goals in a season. Six days later, Ronaldo broke the record of most goals ever scored in a season in La Liga with 40, surpassing Telmo Zarra’s mark established in 1951 and Hugo Sanchez’s mark matched in 1990. Ronaldo also broke Zarra’s record of most goals per minute, with a goal scored every 70.7 minutes. The newspaper Marca, the official deliverer of the Pichichi Trophy (the top La Liga goalscorer award), claimed that Ronaldo scored 41 goals. By doing so, he won the European Golden Shoe award once again, becoming the first player to win the trophy in two different championships


  22. Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best, Demba Ba
    Substitutes: Rob Elliot, James Perch, Danny Guthrie, Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi

    Shola dropped ba starts!



  23. looking at the bench not a lot to bring on if we want to change things. marveux and sammy positives the rest I will be pleased not to see


  24. Thought Guthrie conducted him self well at the end of last season!

    played great in the 0-0 against man u.

    wouldn’t be worried to see him come on.


  25. LST
    It is definitely a mystery that one. The ressies are playing free flowing football with loads of confidence and Gosling and the ressies playmaker Brad Inman who pulls all the strings never get a look in. Out of seven subs would it not be an idea to rotate bringing in one of the youngsters loke Inman, Richardson etc to get experience. I mean if we are having to resort to Guthrie and Lovenkrands the game is up


  26. I completely agree with the article… Too much expectation on Ben Arfa. 😉

    I still would have gone with the extra player in midfield. But maybe Pardew us trying to work out who his Best striker is when Ben Arfa gets back.


  27. craig are you actually mental?

    Point missed completely.

    I didn’t even read that essay you wrote as it’s totally irrelevant to what I was saying.


  28. moreno.. @17.. you likened arfa to ronaldo and implied that just cos afra has not kicked a ball he could be likend to ronaldo if barnsly signed him before he kicked a ball. not being funny mate but that is exactly what you implied.. why not just take it on the chin and admit that it was an unrealistic player to use as an example? 🙂


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