Fringe Player Focus – Foluwashola “Shola” Ameobi

The Shola debate
Today this series steps away from focusing on youth and instead, controversially perhaps, turns to one of our senior professionals.

Shola is a ‘Marmite’ kind of player and has always been the source of much debate when it comes to how much he contributes to the team. Yes, he is an established squad member and has been for a very long time so some of you may question why I consider him to be in this bracket. Fringe player refers to anybody who is not a first-team regular.

Shola is our third choice striker behind Demba Ba and Leon Best. When the new striker arrives in January, it is understandable perhaps to assume that our Nigerian born Geordie will slip further down the pecking order. With Alan Pardew seemingly favouring a mixture of 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 formations at the minute – utilising Hatem Ben Arfa between Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye – one has to question when Ameobi senior is actually likely to get a decent run in the starting line up?

Standing at 6’2″ tall and not exactly being a bean pole, the lad should be more than able to hold his own up front. Sometimes he does. However more often than not in years gone by he has been bounced off defenders faster than I’ve been bounced off my wife when I’ve got all suggestive!

This has seen some sections of our supporters refer to him as ‘Bambi’. Cruelly in my opinion as he is in love with this club and desperate to do well for it. That said, it is easy to see how the comparison is made.

Shola moved to Newcastle in 1985 aged 5 years old. Walker Central Boys Club picked him up before our very own Academy snapped him up. He signed a pre-contract in 1997, made his reserve debut against Sunderland in 1998 and his 1st team bow against Chelsea in 2000. He has scored 71 goals in 316 appearances (about 1 in 4 and half appearances), but 102 of those were off the bench invariably in the last 30 minutes. That works out as a goal every 3 and half full games. Not a bad return for a bloke who rarely gets a proper run in the side. A history of knee and hip problems have not particularly helped his cause.

He has played for the England U-21 side and scored five goals against the Mackems in our colours. The mighty Barcelona have also fallen victim to his striking skills. Not in a friendly either. It was an authentic European clash! This year he signed a contract extension keeping him here until the summer of 2014. More recently he scored two in the win that dumped Chelsea out of the League Cup and grabbed the equaliser against Spurs at St James’ Park this season. Apart from a short loan spell with Stoke City, he has spent his entire career with Newcastle and is now officially registered with FIFA to represent Nigeria.

Shola has the ability to unleash a ferocious shot and his penalty taking skills are actually very good. He is not bad in the air, but could and should be a lot better in fairness. Too easily brushed off the ball, he seems to lack the killer instinct and drive to really stick it in the opposition. Is he just too nice a guy? He gets a lot of stick for drifting out of games and appearing to lack effort. Watching him sometimes it is not hard to see how people draw these conclusions.

It is easy to think these things, but when I actually stop to think about it the truth is obvious. Shola lacks stamina. That is why he often starts from the bench and when he starts, he is usually subbed. He drifts out of games because there is nothing left in the tank. Does he work hard enough on his fitness off the pitch? Who knows. The management will do!

Other factors are lack of pace, lack of fight and lack of bite. He cannot tackle. What he can do however, is put himself on the right positions in and around the box.

What Alan Pardew has worked out, is that given the odd 20 minute cameo at the end of a game Shola is as strong as anybody and makes life very difficult for opposition defenders in their own area as they are ground down a bit by then (thanks to the relentless work of Leon Best who usually makes way). Could it be that a Toon manager has finally found a role that Ameobi can perform consistently well to a high standard?

At 30 years old, wor Shola is heading for his twilight years. He is at a stage where he should be looking to play regular football for the full 90 minutes, but his love for this club, his role as a senior player and the responsibility of guiding his ever impressive little brother Sammy (Tomi is plying his trade in Iceland) probably means he will want to stick around as long as possible.

With a new striker likely to come in this January, will Shola keep his place on the bench? If not, what will he actually contribute to the team considering he is reported to earn £25k a week? Would the role of fourth choice striker be better placed in the hands of one of the up and coming lads like JJ Hooper and Adam Campbell who would be less of a financial drain and worth more to us in the long run with the experience they would gain?

The vote on wor Shola is not about the long term this time, just the short term, so vote now and have your say.

[poll id=”53″]

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

64 thoughts on “Fringe Player Focus – Foluwashola “Shola” Ameobi

  1. For me Shola is a bit of a legend. Vastly under-rated and given far too hard a time by the fans. I remember a match when he scored twice and walking out of the ground he was getting slagged off and had apparently played crap. If a certain Mr Shearer had a crap game and scored thats apparently the mark of a great player.

    You asked if he was too nice a guy? I think he is, a bit like Frank Bruno was in boxing, he had the skills but not the venom of a Tyson or whoever.

    I hope he sticks around, he’s a good player to come off the bench at the very least.


  2. Personally I believe we should keep him but what ever I think we know he’s going to stay. Shola’s happy to be a squad player and Pardew loves him.

    Like I said in my Maiga article that with Ba, Best, Maiga/new striker and Shola with Ben Arfa flitting around them we have a good strike force to move forward with.


  3. Shola is ok as backup and good in the change room, but I certainly wouldn’t want him to hold back any talented young players coming through.


  4. He’s got a contract and isn’t going anywhere.

    He picks up too many injuries.
    He’s the only player I criticise, just because he doesn’t always give 100%.
    He switches off and strolls around. He doesn’t run back from offside positions. He runs out of steam around 60-70 minutes.

    When he tries and is up for it, he can be lethal.
    A great finisher, holds the ball up well, a real handful.

    He’s so infuriating.
    Possibly a great super-sub over the next couple of seasons?


  5. Howay!! Shola will never be remembered as on of the greats but you can’t help but love the bugger! Comitted to the toon (although doesn’t always ‘put a shift in’), I’ve lost count of the time I’ve been sat in the pub or at the match moaning about how **** Shola is only for my mates to watch me wind my neck in when he sends in a screamer (Spurs at home this season anyone???)

    OOOOOHHHH SHOLA AMEOBI!!!!!!!!!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


  6. It would be strange seeing him play anywhere else at this point.

    And in those last 20 or so minutes, he threatens defenses with his surprising dribbling skills.


  7. He’s just signed a new contract. He is at the very least able, experienced squad cover – coming off the bench a la spurs.

    I personally put him above Best in the pecking order; less tenacious but he has more to his all round game, and also capable of moments of magic.

    Gotta love a bit of Shoooola.


  8. As Palace have drawn Cardiff in the Carling Cup, one of them will take a Europa League spot if Liverpool & Man City qualify for the CL.

    I think that’s right?

    If Liverpool win the Carling Cup but finish 5th, I think they qualify via the cup and another league team (6th) get the spot?


  9. Think you right that AP has figured shoals great impact sub for last 20 mins ….. Whenthinkof him like that he makes sense ( just) to keep him …… On anoth note sorry for wrong subject on this thread but previously sort of thought that barton had some redeeming featuresbut now I just think he is a f u kin pr ck f uck off and stop trying to destabilise our club you a r SE hole – apologies for swearing but relly has boiled my we are in the best form in 15 years and club in best shape for years and years and f he ruin it or ontibutes to it being ruined I will be really really gggrrrrrrrrraaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


  10. Geoff, I think how it works is you have to win the Carling Cup in order to qualify for Europe so if Man City win it then the Europa League slot goes down to 6th.

    Where as in the FA Cup you just have to get in the final to guarantee a Europa Place but if the final is say Man City vs Spurs then it will go down to 7th – Providing Man City and Spurs finish in the top five.

    I think! 😆


  11. hmmm I remember another player who was always on the verge of playing each weekend but then never quite made it, what happened to him …. oh yeah we sold him to Liverpool for 35 mill and he didn’t play for about 2 months

    Dont think theres a conspiracy, he really is injured – wish they would just come out and say he’ll be back in Jan or whenever


  12. Guti and Tiote out – terrible news. no marveaux either. patched up side.. I would play 2 up front and benny on the wing…


  13. Jesus – how did we go from a positive discussion of Big Lad to conspiracy theories and doom-mongering about Tiote?

    He’s injured. It’s not getting better the way they’d expected. It’s bad. End of.

    More important is whether Guthrie’s shaken off his injury. He’ll be brilliant against Chelski. Also, does the thought of Benny up against Terry make others laugh out loud, or is it just me? 😆


  14. If it was my choice i honestly could not let him go. He has only ever shown love and respect to the Newcastle fans and im sure someone mentioned it a while back, getting rid of him would be like shooting Bambi.


  15. On the topic of this weekend’s lineup, I think we’ve already seen evidence of Pardew’s line of thinking and Sammy will line up on the left wing. I hope Guthrie is ready to go, but if not then we may see Gosling. I don’t see Ben Arfa partnering Cabaye in the middle of a 4-4-2.


  16. Aye Tooneye, Gav…. Cheick’s recent period of absence has got me smelling a rat…… it smells a wee bit like Jose’s departure and prior to that, Carroll.

    Of course Carroll was injured when he went to Slaverpool

    Hope I’m wrong but if not, we’re used to it by now.
    🙁 !


  17. I think Shola should get 20 minutes at the end tomorrow. He baffles defences so well, and after an hour or so I think theirs will be utterly knackered. Shola also has a habit of doing well against certain teams, and Chelski is one of them.

    Gwaaarn, Big Lad!

    3-1 the Toon!


  18. I vaguely remember getting a hammering for daring to suggest there was a rabbit away with Tiote last week 😯

    If he is injured then fair enough, but I expect him to not go to the ACoN. Not fit for Newcastle? Not fit for Ivory Coast…

    On Shola, he is here to stay. Tge mist frustrating player but deadly on his day. Loves the toon, comitted, what more do you want? 🙂


  19. Toonsy… I think the “hammering” if that’s what you want to call it was for comparing it to Carroll, he was actually injured so there was no conspiracy there.
    Jose was in his last year and wanted to go, also no similarity there. If people are saying there is something fishy then they are saying Tiote is feigning injury and if that’s true then nobody should be wanting him to stay anyway surely?


  20. Anyone remember the interview a couple weeks ago he (Mr T) said he was ready to come back in and just didn’t end up in the squad? Now he’s gonna miss Chelsea and Norwich letting both teams know they won’t face him. Guthrie has done excellent so it isn’t that much of a blow but with the Guti out too we are not going to have as much in midfield


  21. Feigning injury or being carefully looked after so as not to get injured and scupper ant deal in the pipeline 😉


  22. Toonsy…..No difference. He’s injured or he’s not, If the club are “looking after him” so as not to scupper any deal and he’s going along with it then I wouldn’t want to see him play for us again.
    If he’s injured( I think he is) and was reading that his own fans think he’s going along with some club conspiracy/feigning injury, then he probably wouldn’t want to play for us anyway, I wouldn’t.


  23. Why do people keep bringin Judas into it, he was injured prior the sale, injured during it and injured for 6 weeks after it 🙄


  24. That would be good @29 Wolfie because his and Raylor’s right foot would help combat Sturridge cutting inside if he plays right side of their front 3. But not sure Pards will put Santon in


  25. “I vaguely remember getting a hammering for daring to suggest there was a rabbit away with Tiote last week”

    Now it all makes sense 🙄 How come theres none of the conspiracy talk with Williamson who was due back ages ago and is now pencilled in before crimbo, I did hear barcelona were looking to replace puyol long term…


  26. Toonsy, you could be right, stranger things have happened.

    It’s all hypothetical and speculation at the minute by us all but maybe Chelsea have said, “look Mike, we will give you 67 squillion Brazillion quid if you make sure we get Tiote uninjured because we need him to walk straight in , in January.”

    Equally, Tiote has had his head turned and said, “look Alan, I want to play for Chelsea and my minds just not right boss” and Pardew’s said, “well we just here gonna have to get your mind right boy” but Tiote is having none of it and starts crying.

    Or… He really is injured and is stepping up training but cautiously.

    Or..Pardew has got fed up of listening to Tiote in training shouting, ” and it’s Essien, running towards goal and he hits one yessssssssssss” and tells him to stop acting like he’s Essien.

    Or.. Tiote has been nipping to the corner shop for loads of sweets and pop and came back 3 stone over weight and Pardew’s not happy.

    Or..Tiote slipped on a stray strand of boiled spaghetti that fell out the pan and he’s aggravated his injury and is wearing a tube bandage that resembles macaroni.

    Or.. He’s had a big fight with a player and the club are keeping it under wraps because Tiote has a fractured cheekbone.

    Just a few guesses there like lads 😀


  27. Shola is impossible to predict or describe completely. A true enigma. Sudden bursts of brilliance but it never lasts long. No consistency at all. Often injured. Very committed to the club but not enough fire in his belly. All these descriptions apply. Looks like we will keep him around for those rare brilliant moments (and the fact he is fairly cheap). As for Tiote getting more and more puzzled. Why don’t the club tell us what is going on as far as the injury is concerned? Marveaux was sent off to America for an operation, we were told about it right away and we know he will be out quite a while. Why the air of mystery surrounding Tiote if nothing is going on? Is he complaining about his contract and wanting to renegotiate? This is starting to smell like a big problem.


  28. Personally like Ameobi, yeah I know he doesn’t always seem to put a shift in and he can go from sublime to substandard in the same game but he’s played through many an injury and has a decent strike record.
    Gets a lot of unwarranted stick, whereas someone like Martins whohas a similiar goals record seemed to be a crowd favourite….. go figure
    Would keep him although poss as a 3rd / 4th choice striker


  29. Geordietwo, if the worst case scenario happens then I’m more than sure we will deal with it in January.
    I’m happy with Guthers.
    If Tiote has a 1% desire to leave, he can **** right off to be fair, if that is the case mind.
    Tiote is a very good player but he isn’t god and can be replaced with better.

    He’s a good warrior for us and has a great engine but I’ve seen better from Guthrie to be honest.


  30. There’s no conspiracy talk about Williamson because nobody would want him CC. I think you know that. We only have two decent centre backs so barring a miracle in January (the miracle of Ashley opening his wallet) we are as thin as possible back there. With Tiote out apparently indefinitely, Guthrie carrying a knock, Abeid away, Marveaux injured, and Jonas possibly injured we’re not exactly deep in midfield anymore either. All it would take would be Ba’s knee to act up and we would have a problem requiring the owner to actually spend on his squad at more than one or two positions. Don’t believe we will buy a centre back in January by the way. We will go through the motions (Llambias’s job) and then claim we ran out of time and the price tags were too big.


  31. Shola is one of those life players that all clubs have..
    His heart and soul is Newcastle United and to be fair, I think keeping him is a clever little double reason for the club..

    1., it shows the club can show loyalty to a player that also shows it.

    2. He is a role model for his own brother who will feel ultra confident with him being around .

    Sammi looks like a confidence player and if that confidence can be instilled into him, we will benefit from it regularly on the pitch when he’s afforded his opportunities.

    Shola has this ability to be either unreal or dire and can look like a right Donkey at times but he does have the knack of popping up at the right times to win us games we didn’t think were possible.

    For me, he is a one half player , preferably second half sub where he can play against tiring players to make more impact.


  32. Shola reminds me of two players. Ronaldo, (the real brazilian one) when he’s on fire. Power strength, finishing. :mrgreen: & Hesky who also has failed big time to maximise his potential. 👿


  33. Don’t remember that many people on here saying Guthrie was as good as Tiote Wolfie. I would say definitely not myself but if he is acting up then we had better sell him on as long as we spend the money on players (where have I heard that one before?). My guess is Chelsea or ManU are turning his head and he realizes he can double his salary elsewhere. Hope I am wrong and it is just an injury. We haven’t seen nearly enough of him in black and white. 😉


  34. You do have to wonder if now, even if a player is more about money than loyalty (e.g. Drog*******), Chelski is really a more attractive proposition than Newcastle right now. They look like going through a couple of rough years to me. And surely the outcomes of the Carroll and Torres moves have made such players think twice? The better we do this season, the lower the risk of losing top players.

    Talking of which…. if Judas continues to put the banjo in a different postcode from the cow’s arse for another two months, it’ll be hilarious. Pretty sure our centre-backs are out-scoring him this season.

    Sorry, Judas, but it’s pretty clear that you can only score in black and white…


  35. Whumpie….to be fair to Torres, before the move he was doing sh!t in Liverpool, now he’s doing sh!t in London, where do you think he’d prefer to be doing sh!t?…… he’ll have a hefty rise 😉


  36. Geordietwo, Tiote has a better engine than Guthrie and is better at harrassing the ball bit I think Guthrie is showing the promise that we all thought had vanished and is a bigger threat forward wise as he is getting his passing game together and also his vision and isn’t to shabby in the harrassing stakes himself.

    I wouldn’t say he’s better but I will say , it makes our lives easier when we know he can step up to the mark, all I’m saying is, I have seen better play from Guthrie over the few games he’s had.


  37. Shola is handy to have on the bench but thats it for me, I can never understand how people say he gives his all to the Toon, because I have only ever seen him give 100% a few times.
    He needs to look at a few of the other players like Jonas etc and ask himself do I try as hard as them ?
    As for Tiote I don’t believe any of the BS about him or the club holding him back incase of injury.
    If he was part of that I wouldn’t want him here.


  38. Geordietwo: I’ve said Guthrie is better than Tiote…. against certain opposition. He’s not as solid in defence but I think much better and quicker at triggering attacks when he gets the ball.

    That said, the last time Tiote played, he had a superb attacking game, so who knows?

    Anyway – I hope it is just the club easing him in, as you’d hope with a knee injury and Guthrie doing such a good job. I don’t want him to leave; he’s already a bit of a legend. Who else is going to yell “stop your jibber-jabber, fool! Get some nuts!” at the opposition?


  39. Williamsons back in the fold but was due back ages ago yet nobody questioned that, yet when its Tiote in the same situation people fear the worst, That was the point i was trying to make in a ham fisted way.

    I think the club are getting tiote in top condition before playing him again and not rushing him back when theres no need because Guthries playing so well.


  40. Richie I agree 100% with you mate. 😉
    On Tiote again why would the club rush him back even if he was up to 99%, when young Guthrie has been more than patient waiting for his chance and when it came he grabed it with both hands , and been brilliant.?


  41. Dave.. 😉 .Aye, hopefully there just being careful with Tiote, when’s Pardew’s press conference? maybe we’ll learn more then.
    I’d be gutted if he was sold though, I was at Everton away last season and he was easily MoM for me, even with Benny’s goal and performance.


  42. What the hell is wrong with Tiote? What is his injury and what is the extent? The club haven’t come out and given ‘X’ amount of weeks for his return either.

    It has been confirmed now that he isn’t playing and will be doubtful for Norwich too.


  43. playing or not, he should be at the toon as long as he wants to be. might not always have been the brightest on the pitch, but i cant help but think he can only be a benefit to have him around, and he (as far as i can remember) as carried himself with class. always gonna come in handy for games agaisnt the unwashed too.


  44. I think in the right line up Guthrie is an adequate replacement for Tiote, at least for 60 minutes… After that Guthrie seems to run out of pace and stamina, as if he cannot last the full 90 minutes.. 🙁 When he is on his game, perhaps Guthrie has better ball playing skills, although you cannot compare the two when it comes to the defensive side of things.
    It’s a real pity that Tiote seems to be injured for the next few weeks. I would imagine he won’t be fit for the ANC either then….ahem…. 😳


  45. Norwich away will be just as tough as Chelsea at home. We need all of our best players back as soon as possible…


  46. Another well balanced article, have to admit though that I started to worry for shola as I nearer the end and when I popped a little dot in the yes option and pressed vote I feared I may have been in the minority.
    How can you not love shola?!
    Hell yes he has his faults but what you see with shola is what you get. He loves that shirt as much as any fan, he loves playing for Newcastle and he’s a mackem slayer.
    Yes he has no pace at all and I’ve see bin wagons turn quicker but defenders hate to play against him.
    All of us fans are managers in the waiting and we’ve all, at one time or another slated shola but the fact is during his long time at Newcastle, many many managers have come and gone and not one had a bad word to say about shola.
    You need people like shola at your club, not just for his footballing ability (coz he can be good) but also coz he’s a great lad who gets how priviledged he really is…. he’s a local hero.

    Forget his 25k salary, Alan Smith is on 60k and brings sweet FA to the club and keeping shola at the should not stop the young uns come through the ranks, quite the opposite, he should be used as an example and used to help the lads handle the pressures that reserve team and first team football brings… as I’m sure he’s doing with their kid at the mo.
    Plus I’m hoping he’ll do another cribs!!!


  47. Shola has to be kept. The man’s a legend, nuff said. A bloody frustrating legend at some points, but I think he’s a good squad player and should probably be used as an impact sub when possible. If it wasn’t for injuries this lad could have been a real great, and I think that has a crucial effect on his stamina. He also seems to be playing at 50/50 half the time, so its no wonder he doesn’t cover every blade of grass. Still, when he’s magical he’s magical. Keep him just for the mackem games! assuming they’re still in the league next year 😀


  48. Not good enough about 20 good games in over 200 apps and only those apps in over 13 years , he’s either lazy or lacks concentration either way not good enough . When we talk about keegan or ashley people say don’t get emotive about it well the same must apply to shola . Against mackems man of the match , against arsenal about 8 years ago man of the match infact unbelievably good so why not more , massively inconsistant or lazy .


  49. Off topic, it seems Yannick Djalo is now available on a free after his transfer from Sporting to Nice was deemed a bit suspect. Rumour is that Villa have agreed terms but we had a solid interest in this player last season so perhaps (fingers crossed) we can do a marveaux deal again and swipe from under the noses of our EPL rivals.


  50. I voted to keep him – Like some of you said, it’s all theoretical anyway as he has only just signed a new contract but it’s interesting to read people’s opinion on the lad.

    He is a good honest pro who loves the club and like many pointed out, he will be a good example and good company for the youngsters coming through. 🙂

    As an impact sub he seems to do a decent job and on his day he is good a finisher as anybody, so why not keep him on the books? 😎


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