Shola Ameobi has penned a new deal with Newcastle United that will see him extend his stay until 2014 and effectively end his career at the club where it all began.
The Fenham Eusebio is one of them “Marmite” characters as, quite simply, you either love or hate him – there is no middle ground.
At his best he can destroy teams, just ask Sunderland, although people will point out that he is far too often not at his best. Personally I have a soft spot for him. He frustrates the hell out of me, but at a time when loyalty and commitment are rare commodities we have a player who displays just that.
Shola is quite understandably delighted that he has managed to secure a contract extension, especially when you consider that discussions had reached an impasse not so long back. In quotes I took from the Shields Gazette, Shola had this to say:
“All I’ve ever wanted is to play for Newcastle United, and it is a really happy day for me. Newcastle is, and always will be, my club, and I’m looking forward immensely to the next three years, beginning this Saturday with the new season opener against Arsenal.”
“I would also like to thank the board and the manager for their continued support, which is very much appreciated.”
It’s hard to grasp that Shola made his debut way back in 2000. Mental. I’ve always thought that he has all the physical attributes needed to be a cracking striker but injuries and sometimes a seeming lack of application have got in the way. Remember he played second fiddle to great strikers like Shearer and Bellamy and, ahem, Owen and Martins, with the first two being at the club during the most important formative years of his career.
Still, Shola sticking around will give the bashers something to have a go at for a bit longer anyway although I have a sneaking suspicion that Shola will see less time on the pitch than some think. Basically just think of Alan Smith – great to have around the place albeit very expensive. I reckon Shola will be our new Smith going by what Alan Pardew had to say.
“We are delighted to have confirmed Shola’s new contract,” said Pardew. “He has done a terrific job for me since I’ve been at the club and he is also a great character to have around the place. It is important to have continuity, and keeping Shola on board helps us achieve that aim.”
“It is also great for the club that his younger brother Sammy is developing well and we hope he can go on to have a successful career at Newcastle.”
Great to have around… Great character…. Continuity…. Cheerleader. You get my point. I mean who else is there at the club currently that knows the passion of the fans, the area, what hat to wear…
So with Shola signed on it means that Alan Pardew can concentrate on bringing in a striker to bolster our attack. Pardew insists that the hunt is still on and that there is a space in the squad ready to be filled.
“We still need another striker and we’re still pursuing that, and if we lose a player we’re going to replace him,” Pardew told the Northern Echo.
“Within the squad at the minute there’s one place available for a striker and that search is ongoing until such time as we get the right player in. I’d be surprised if it goes down to the wire, I will be, but it might do.”
So from that it looks as though we are going to go with what we have with just the addition of a striker to the squad. Fair enough, especially when you consider that the club are apparently going to replace any players who leave (like Jose Enrique for example) although I would like another defender in as I feel we are a bit short at the back in terms of cover.
Well done Shola, I guess, and hopefully he’ll have a new striking team-mate to show around his crib and make feel welcome.