For the two seasons previously to this season just gone, midfield enforcer Cheick Tiote was arguably Newcastle’s best and most consistent performer. Forming key partnerships with his more attack minded colleagues Kevin Nolan and then Yohan Cabaye. When former captain Nolan was sold to West Ham a lot of eyebrows were raised as to why Newcastle were selling their main goalscorer just months after the departure of number nine Andy Carroll, who coincidentally spent this season with Nolan at West Ham, reuniting their partnership from their days in the North East.
Cabaye, however came in and excelled from the off and he was only pipped to signing of the season by the free transfer of that season’s top scorer Demba Ba after his release from West Ham following their relegation.
Cabaye brought with him an excellent range of passing along with his tenacious nature and sometimes questionable temperament. He was superb alongside Tiote, so much so that the pair of them were linked with big money moves away from the club however they both stayed put.
This season both started Newcastle’s first game against Tottenham at home, in a two – one home win, with goals from Ba and then a Hatem Ben Arfa penalty. Before Newcastle traveled to Chelsea key man Tiote picked up an injury and was ruled out of the game, he would go on to miss a number of games throughout the season. When Tiote returned it was Cabaye who began to miss games through injury and the team was beginning to struggle. Tiote returned in body only at first, looking a shadow of the man who had attracted interest from some elite clubs. He struggled to get his own passing game going and looked tired for pretty much the whole campaign, possibly the two International tournaments in two years had taken its toll on the midfield dynamo.
Some fans have now labeled Tiote a liability. How can this be the case? How can the man who has been exceptional for two years be a liability? Tiote has struggled to replicate his best form this season, but he will be back. I have no doubt about it. Yohan Cabaye has struggled through this campaign for most of it, while the influential Frenchman has shown flashes of brilliance and his six goal return is not the worst, he has failed to produce what he is capable of. Next season it is imperative that both Tiote and Cabaye return to their best form and our fans must be more tolerant of bad performances, remember that before this season they were two of our best players.