The 1-1 draw in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland yesterday was clearly hugely disappointing for Newcastle. Alan Pardew’s men seemed to be in full control as time ticked away and Sunderland hardly created any chances; that is until Steve Harper turned the ball into Asamoah Gyan’s path and the Ghanaian managed to divert the ball into the back of the net. The last gasp equaliser was cruel on Newcastle, who had defended admirably as a team for the rest of the match, and if one man’s performance deserved to earn a clean sheet, it was Fabricio Coloccini’s.
The Premier League match against Sunderland yesterday was arguably Coloccini’s best 90 minutes in a Newcastle shirt. The Argentina international showed just how well he reads the game, covering well for Mike Williamson on numerous occasions and carrying out his defensive duties with minimal fuss. As always Colo was calmness personified, and even nearly added to his goal tally with a crisply struck volley that was cleared off the line. But it is Coloccini’s defending that is winning him the plaudits and making him an indispensable member of the Newcastle starting eleven.
When Newcastle signed Fabricio Coloccini from Deportivo for a fee in the region of £10 million in the summer of 2008, quite a few eyebrows were raised in regards to the money spent by the magpies. It was questioned whether Coloccini could make the transition from La Liga to the Premier League, and in his first season with Newcastle he did little to dispel those questions. It would be fair to say that Coloccini struggled in his first year in English football, he wasn’t out of sorts, but that £10 million price tag was looking pretty hefty.
With Newcastle relegated, many people (me included) thought that would mark the end of the Argentinean’s time on Tyneside. But credit must be given to Coloccini; he stayed at St James’ and ensured that Newcastle’s stay in the Championship was a short one. The classy defender consistently showed that he was a level above most players in the division and was named in the Championship Team of the Year. Newcastle’s promotion gave Coloccini another opportunity to show those that watch the Premier League just how good he is and it’s one he’s taken.
This season Coloccini has hardly put a foot wrong. Apart from the heavy defeat at Bolton where the Argentinean defender was sent off for an elbow on Johan Elmander, something he quickly apologised for after the match, Coloccini has been a rock at the heart of Newcastle’s defence. A highlight for Colo will be the match against Wigan where he captained Newcastle and scored a late header to salvage a point for the Toon. But yesterday he was perhaps even better and definitely deserved to be on the winning side.
At 28 years of age, Fabricio Coloccini has plenty of his career ahead of him and is now showing the form that should ensure he adds to his 34 caps for Argentina to date. He has become invaluable for Newcastle, and whether he partners Williamson or Steven Taylor at the back, his experience and calmness can only help those around him. His commitment to Newcastle and his high level of performances are slowly proving that the £10 million Mike Ashley shelled out for Coloccini two-and-a-half years ago is money well spent. It may still be a big price for a defender, but Mr Reliable is showing he’s worth every penny.