In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle, Seydou Doumbia has revealed that a lack of match fitness and Steve McClaren’s sacking contributed to his downfall during his disastrous loan spell at Newcastle United.
The Ivory Coast international arrived on loan from AS Roma as a highly-rated goalscorer in January 2016, with his 118 goals in 185 games in Switzerland, Russia and Italy suggesting he had the ability to fire us to safety.
To say things didn’t go to plan would be an understatement, however. Steve McClaren – who described him as a ‘natural goalscorer’
Here’s what the 31-year-old, now playing with FC Sion, told the Chronicle when asked about his six-month stint at St James’ Park, revealing how he wasn’t ‘100%’ when he arrived:
“I was confident because looking back at the seasons before, I used to scored goals. However when I arrived at Newcastle, I was not 100%.
“The transfer had been done at the end of the transfer window like always in England.
“I heard about the interest from the club and Steve McClaren, and I instantly accepted the challenge because the Premier League is one of the best in the world.
“I was happy to sign! Even if it didn’t work very well after.”
When asked why things didn’t work out, he points towards the sacking of Steve McClaren, as well as the fact he was not fully fit when he arrived, having not played since December 12th (2015) due to Serie A’s winter break:
“Because the coach changed quickly, simply because of that,”
“It was a pleasure to work with Steve everyday, I got a lot of joy from it but unfortunately he left us quickly.
“Like I say, I was not 100% when I arrived at Newcastle, and the fact that the coach changed very soon didn’t help me.”
Finally, the former Young Boys star told the Chronicle about his relationship with Rafa Benitez, with the Spaniard giving him just 3 minutes of action during our final 10 games of the 2016/17 season:
“It was a professional relation,”
“I had no problem with him.
“When he arrived I was still on a preparation time.
“If I didn’t play it was just a question of choice and I respected it.”
It seems a lack of sharpness cost him during his brief spell working under McClaren, while his lack of game time under the Rafa suggested he really wasn’t a ‘Benitez player’ – and poor fitness levels will have only contributed to this.
He’s scored goals almost everywhere he’s been, bagging 21 times with Basel the season after his spell on Tyneside, but with no goals and just 29 minutes of action in a black and white shirt, it’s fair to say he’ll go down as one of our biggest loan flops we’ve seen over the past decade.