Shola Ameobi is now 29 years old. What? When did that happen? Not being a Newcastle United fan, I’ve always been aware of Shola as a fresh exciting talent who was never quite capable of making the grade. It was always a case of “maybe this season”, but now, sadly, as he approaches his thirties, it seems more and more likely that we’ll have to add him to the list of footballers who failed to fulfil their full extent of their talent.
Over the last couple of seasons I’ve become more and more aware of just how frustrating a player Shola Ameobi is. Ameobi and consistency just don’t seem to go together.
I don’t know whether it’s an attitude problem or if he has problems maintaining his fitness, but his work rate often fails to cut the mustard. Ameobi may have impressed in the Championship last year, but in the Premier League, Shola has often looked out of place. Perhaps this is a result of his being somewhat injury prone, or his lacking in confidence, but Ameobi doesn’t seem to have the pace, the touch, or let’s face it, the general quality to be a regular for Newcastle United, week in, week out.
Perhaps there is a role for Ameobi at Newcastle as an impact substitute – a player who can come on in the late stages of a game and provide United with something a little different (In Shola’s case, power and height).
Ameobi’s fall from grace at Newcastle is somewhat shocking when you consider how easy it was for Carroll to rise through the ranks. Carroll, (like Ameobi) took a while to gel into the first team. He replaced the injured Ameobi last year and it took him a few games to grab his first Newcastle goal, but hasn’t looked back since. For Ameobi, however, it’s often a case of one step forward, two steps backwards.
Ameobi always had the potential to be great, but he has never quite managed to reach the top. Through his career, he has been a back-up man, be it for Shearer, Martins, Owen and now, it seems, Carroll. Ameobi will never be a leading man, because unlike these players, he doesn’t have the work ethic. He may be strong, he may be skilful and we all know he can finish, but what does that matter when he only turns up to 40-50% of his games?
I’d love to know how Alan Pardew views Shola Ameobi’s Newcastle future. In the long term, I can see Nile Ranger partnering Andy Carroll upfront and Ameobi being of some use as a supersub. Unfortunately for Shola, I think he has played himself out of contention for any role bigger than that.
What’s your take on Shola Ameobi? Feel free to leave a comment or to follow me on Twitter: @ThePerfectPass for more discussion and debate.