Newcastle desperately needed a striker.

Initially they delivered and scored big goals in crucial games. Michael Owen notched winning goals in the Tyne-Wear derby, a brace in a 2-0 victory at St James’ in April 2008 giving Paul McShane a nightmare of an afternoon.

Papiss Cisse turned games on their head in the last season, in the club’s European pursuit, which peaked with his two wonder strikes at Stamford Bridge again in a 2-0 victory.  On the flip side though, they both have now had spells of looking disinterested, injury and struggled to have an influence when it has really mattered for the team. The difference is though, Cisse has the chance and capability to turn around his misfortune on Tyneside.

Before we get carried away with this comparison, even if fans of Owen never want to admit it, he was in steady decline from the moment he left Anfield. When he returned to the Premier League, the expectation that the player should succeed was slightly misguided.  When Papiss Cisse arrived he was an unknown quantity, known for his ability to score goals. He managed to earn himself a reputation for being one of the Premier League’s finest finishers in just half a season.

While this season, Cisse looks like he would struggle to finish his dinner let alone a ball in the 6 yard box, it is not all his fault. As Newcastle put in one of their weakest displays yet at Southampton, my friend James was happy to vent his spleen at Cisse bewildered at the striker standing around with his hands on his hips waiting for a miracle chance to come to his feet. This is certainly an issue as this negative body language won’t warm him to the supporters, or help him regain his confidence but his team didn’t exactly help him.

I am not a great lover of the blanket argument which is used to defend so many mediocre strikers of ‘his midfield isn’t giving him the service’, but if Cisse were to argue this he would have a point.  The centre of the park at Newcastle has been lacklustre this season, they fail to produce any creativity or incision to cut open defences with a killer pass on the floor,  Hatem Ben Arfa aside, nor the poise to keep the ball and pass it around. I remember at under 13 level doing a training match with the conditions that no goal counted if 6 passes weren’t completed before you scored, maybe extending that to 10 passes in training sessions at Darsley Park wouldn’t go amiss.

Newcastle United so far this season play statistically the most long balls in the Premier League and while they finished 5th in these standings last season, the willingness for them to hoof it long is embarrassing.  This does not suit the natural game of Cisse or Ba, at St Mary’s watching Tim Krul booting goal kicks out to Cisse on the left wing for him to flick it onto to the sum total of nobody was infuriating for the fans.  Also watching Gutierrez trying to whip a low 30 yard past around the defence to Cisse is both ambitious and useless too. If Cisse is to flourish he needs to be given the ball to his feet and along the floor, dealing with neat intricate short passes, and opportunities to shoot in goalscoring positions with the ball on the deck.

There needs to be a greater understanding of the strengths of the Senegalese international, which is that he is a poacher, a finisher who can snatch at a ball in one swipe and watch the ball rustle the back of the net. He is an opportunist who is looking for a chance to unleash his deadly left foot.  It is clear that the player is capable of scoring goals but Newcastle United’s offensive play has to suit to his strengths if he is to succeed. Again don’t count this as a full defence of Cisse, because I think here we find a striker who is extremely limited in what he can do.

His aerial qualities will never strike fear into opposition defences when they see a cross coming in or have to deal with set pieces. Cisse’s pace is also questionable, with him having just about enough to get by; he dare not lose a yard or two. I don’t think this was lost upon the big clubs in Europe. It was barely a coincidence that there was hardly a whisper of any interest in the forward, when a player who scores 13 goals in 14 appearances would normally be the subject of all the newspaper gossip columns.

The comparison with Michael Owen again here becomes relevant with the loss of pace being one of the pivotal reasons for his downfall, but more importantly his finishing. A crucial thing Owen lost was the confidence to put a chance away. In April 2009 he had a glaringly obvious chance to bury Portsmouth with a one-on-one opportunity, late on in the game, and move Newcastle towards safety, and he meekly punted the ball into David James’ hands. Papiss Cisse has not had such a turning point yet, and while I am not amused at gestures such as laughing at missing a penalty as he did against Norwich, he needs to be given a chance.

If Newcastle plays to his strengths, I believe the talk of Ba and Cisse not being able to accommodate each other is nonsense. Ba has additional attributes to those Cisse has in that he can hold up the ball and has heading ability. This could mean Newcastle have a strike pairing that have the potential to wreak havoc and both score lots of goals.

However, they need to be provided service along the floor if they are able to flourish. If Cisse starts getting presented chances on the floor and missing them on a regular basis, then maybe we can start worrying that there is a Michael Owen in disguise on Tyneside.


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  • Harvey
    2 years ago

    im fairly sure cisse is right-footed…

    Reply
    • Grant-Miles
      2 years ago

      he is left footed unless my eyes deceive me

      Reply
      • Tom Jones
        2 years ago

        I would have said right

        Reply
  • eshdh
    2 years ago

    Cisse has nothing in common with Owen. Slow news day?

    Reply
    • Grant-Miles
      2 years ago

      I pointed out the similarities they have. Slow commenting day?

      Reply
  • Badger
    2 years ago

    What an unbelievably crass and stupid headline followed by an utterly ridiculous article. If you are describing yourself as a journalist of any kind you should be prosecuted under the Trades Descriptions Act

    Reply
    • Grant-Miles
      2 years ago

      Unfortunately I can’t be prosecuted under this act, because I am not selling this product or service. A snippet from the Act itself made on 30th May 1968
      “To prohibit false or misleading indications as to the price of goods.” You had the joy of reading it for free. Now that is what I call an utterly ridiculous comment.

      Reply
      • Grant-Miles
        2 years ago

        Also if we are to assess what a journalist does, they distribute facts and other information, in some shape or form. I think you will find facts embedded in this article. So I can’t be accused of misleading indications.

        Reply
        • Badger
          2 years ago

          Strike a nerve did we? You knew exactly what I meant.
          ‘Distributing facts and information’ laughable,an Andy Coulson devotee are you. Yes I concede you will make a great journalist. Of the sort the News Of the World employed.

          Reply
  • Chris
    2 years ago

    I’m sorry but there is almost no comparison to make between these two players; different abilities, different styles of play, different injury records, different ages etc etc. Cisse has been 100% fit during his entire time in England! Michael Owen was a declining, over paid , injury prone, headlining grabbing signing that made Freddy Shepherd millions in shirt sales. Cisse was an undiscovered Graham Carr gem who scored spectacular goals on instinct and this season is suffering from a massive loss of confidence. Strange, strange article

    Reply
  • JJ
    2 years ago

    My goodness, this is the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever read. Cisse is absolutely nothing like Michael Owen. Really shouldn’t have wasted your time writing this nonsense.

    Reply
  • Daniele
    2 years ago

    Do you classify the purchase of Cisse as a big money move? For Owen sure; for Cisse I think you’re pushing your luck especially when washed up strikers are being flogged for 50M

    Reply
  • oamcgoogalouv
    3 months ago

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    Reply