Forgotten man Chancel Mbemba is refusing to give up on his Newcastle United career, as he sends powerful message to the fans, signalling his intentions to fight his way back into Rafa Benitez’s plans.
“Despite my minimal playing time this season I am here and not giving up.
“I continue to train ardently and seriously and I will not give up until I find my place in the team.
“My wish is to come back stronger than ever and satisfy you, my fans, as I was able to do last season in the Premier League.”
It is great to see a talented young player fighting for his place at Newcastle, refusing to give up when others may have sulked and accept their fate.
It is worth noting that the picture used in his Instagram post (see above) shows him kissing the Newcastle United badge. Considering the centre-back has made just 8 appearances all season for Newcastle, it showed a touch of class from the determined Mbemba.
Signed from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015, the £8m centre-back made an impressive start to life at St.James’ Park under Steve McClaren. He showed considerable athleticism and appeared comfortable on the ball, quickly adapting to the demands of English football & the Premier League. He was one of Newcastle’s stand out players that season, made all the more admirable as a defender in such a struggling team.
Newcastle fans were therefore grateful to see the Congolese defender remain at the club following relegation. While Mbemba started six of the first seven league games this season, he has since fallen out of favour with Rafa Benitez.
It is understood that September’s home defeat to Wolves was the turning point. The Chronicle reported that it was in this game Benitez lost patience with the defender, who showed an apparent inability to follow instructions and Rafa’s precise tactical plan. After a nervy start he scored an own-goal to gift Wolves the lead and in truth, never recovered.
Since that disastrous afternoon at SJP earlier in the season, the 22 year-old has started just one league game, being the 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn in November – Mbemba’s last appearance to date!
In yesterday’s pre-match presser, Benitez was asked about Mbemba’s availability, who could be recalled to the side to face Birmingham today after Ciaran Clark was ruled out through injury:
“He has been training well, yes,” Benitez replied when asked if Mbemba had a chance of starting against Birmingham.
“When he came back from the Africa Cup of Nations he missed a couple of games because he had some little problems and the team was doing well.
“Hanley was training really well. When you have to pick the 18 players, sometimes you say: ‘I don’t need another one.’
“You pick a midfielder or a full-back or a striker.
“Now he’s training well. I’m happy with that. We will see if we need him or not.
“If the others are doing well and the team is strong in defence, you don’t want to change too many.
“Then, when you have to put players in the squad, you have to pick players you will need during the game.”
Mbemba impressed on international duty in January’s African Cup of Nations, playing in a central-midfield role for DR Congo. Benitez commented on this yesterday, admitting he is “an option” in the defensive-midfield role going forward:
“He played in a 4-3-3 as a holding-midfielder for one game and two as a midfielder inside.
“I was watching the games. He was fine.
“The tempo of the games was not the best, but he was fine. He’s an option.
Time will tell if Mbemba can force his way back into Benitez’s plans, but yesterday’s announcement provided a powerful statement that the talented defender won’t go down without a fight – & good luck to him!