Sunday, 28 September 2014

Right Place, Right Time, Number Nine

Forgotten man Papiss Cisse saved Newcastle's blushes against Hull City last weekend. Sam Winter analyses the strikers time on Tyneside and his timely return to action

Always looking forward. A moving tribute to Jonas Gutierrez, a statement of intent from a returning Newcastle United hero.

Papiss Demba Cisse stepped off the substitutes bench as Newcastle United fell two goals behind against Hull City at St James' Park. Not deterred, the Senegalese forward rolled back a couple of years by confidently rescuing a point for the home side, and possibly rescuing his Managers' job - for now.

Always Looking Forward: Cisse is back and his timing couldn't be better

As Newcastle toiled once again in front of goal, and confidence levels threatened to plummet further, it was somewhat encouraging to see Cisse stripped and ready for action. A player short on confidence for some time, you'd have been forgiven for fearing disappointment. But Cisse was notably fired up, a far cry from the bit part figure that graced the same touchline last season. 

And boy did he deliver when he entered the fray. Such instinct. Right place, right time.

Few were aware of Papiss Demba Cisse when he arrived from Freiburg for a fee of £9 million in the January of 2012. But we were all well and truly aware of the newest Number 9 after he smashed home a memorable debut goal, assisted by his friend Jonas. Get well soon Spiderman.

Arrived: Cisse made an instant impact on Tyneside

Newcastle were moving along nicely at that point, but Cisse took them to another level. He scored 13 goals in his 14 games that season - goals with both feet, goals with his head, goals that defied physics.

Confidence oozed out of Cisse, he was unstoppable. The new Andy Cole they said. Would Newcastle be able to keep him? A move to Real Madrid was even rumoured. And why not, he just couldn't stop scoring. What a player to take into a full season. 

Defying logic: Cisse's jaw-dropping moment at Stamford Bridge

Or so we all thought.

One of my major gripes with Alan Pardew's tenure is his ill-fated attempt at keeping Demba Ba happy and on Tyneside as his £7 million release clause refused to go away. Pardew sacrificed the effectiveness of his team to appease one man. Newcastle were excellent with Ba wide-left of the lethal Cisse; with the former displaying his pace, skill, and technical qualities as the latter used his incredible goal-scoring instinct. 

Fatal changes: Pardew made Cisse move aside for Demba Ba in 2012 - it didn't work

Pardew shifted Cisse to wide-right in 2012/13 and to say he struggled is an understatement. Cisse is not a winger, he's not a Number 10. He is a goalscorer who must be the furthest forward central striker in the team if you want him to deliver. Newcastle toiled,  Cisse only had three league goals to his name by January. Demba Ba left for Chelsea.

Pardew's misuse and mistreatment of Papiss Cisse has been the driving force behind any lack of form from the striker. Goalscorers thrive on confidence, and when you are clearly viewed as second best in the eyes of your Manager each game gets harder and harder to score in. It happened again with Loic Remy last season, Cisse again left playing second fiddle to a man the club desperately wanted to convince to stay. 

Second best again: Cisse found himself behind Loic Remy in the pecking order last season

Newcastle were brilliant at Cardiff in a 4-3-3 with Remy showing his best coming in off the left flank. Cisse played through the middle, the ball just not dropping for him to get a goal. But his movement allowed his teammates to create openings for themselves. 

Cisse's goals would surely come but he wasn't given the chance. Newcastle went reserved with Remy leading the line alone, Cisse further ousted by Shola Ameobi - another dent in the confidence which was painfully visible as he tried so hard to score when given the rare chance.  

Despite a regular lack of faith shown in him, Cisse has never hidden on the pitch, never shied away from a goalscoring opportunity. Notable misses in games last season stick in the mind - a crucial miss against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup and a bit of a sitter at home to Spurs for example - but he will always come back and try again.

When Ba left Cisse's goals kept Newcastle in the Premier League. Stoppage time winners against Stoke and Fulham under extreme pressure, a goal at Villa Park in a rare away win. His European exploits took Newcastle to the fringes of the Europa League semi-finals. And he wasn't half unlucky at times - wrongly disallowed goals against Metalist, West Ham, and (fatally) Sunderland setting Newcastle back. 

Always on time: Cisse's late goals kept Newcastle in the big time in 2012/13

When Remy was injured last season and Newcastle in dreadful form he stepped up again. Another late winner at home to Crystal Palace when chance after chance went begging for him all game. He didn't stop believing, didn't throw in the towel. 

For too long Cisse has been second fiddle to somebody else. He has shown when given the consistent opportunity that he deserves to be the main man up front. Whenever he is called upon when Newcastle need him most he delivers. He is the most natural finisher the club has had since he joined, since Alan Shearer. He's taken United to Europe and kept them in the top flight. The man for all occasions. 

32 goals in 75 starts is a decent return for a Premier League striker in modern times. Papiss Cisse has nothing to prove as a goalscorer, he just needs to be given a run in the team and to be made to feel like a true Number 9 should feel - wanted, needed

Main man: Pardew must utilise Cisse to change Newcastle's fortunes.

Cisse's goalscoring return last weekend could be the lift Newcastle United need. They have the personnel to create more chances this season, they just need the right man on the end of them. Alan Pardew was right in saying that too much burden has been placed on Emmanual Riviere's shoulders.  Papiss Cisse can carry the burden, will carry the burden, and hopefully will fire Newcastle United back up the Premier League table. 

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