By St1pe from nufc-forum.com
The signing of Obertan came as quite a surprise to most Newcastle fans because it arrived at a time when we were faced with the prospect of losing some of our then bigger stars such as Enrique and Barton. Also unlike most of our dealings towards the end of the summer, this transfer was concluded within a matter of days from the initial rumour hitting the press. But the prospect of signing Obertan was met with a fairly mixed bag of opinions. The usual comment reared its head, (one I particularly dislike) that seems to always appear in dealings with a Manchester United player, that Alex Ferguson would never sell a good player. Yet more positively, a lot of fans recognised it was an opportunity for someone who clearly has talent to play for a mid-table Premiership team such as ourselves and fine tune his talents in the Premiership, as opposed to being limited to brief appearances. For the transfer fee it was a risk worth taking.
Like him signing for Newcastle, the start to his career here has also been met with mixed receptions but overall you could probably rate it as a fairly average start or a 6 out of 10 if you will. There are moments where he looks as if he has the ability to turn the whole game on its head into our favour but then there are times when a 5 yard pass seems beyond his capabilities. The genius moments have been fewer than the potential suggest but the mistakes also are not so common, so far he has been a player seemingly content to just do enough to get by. A problem which seems to be wholly down to confidence, at times he will attempt a safer pass rather than trying something he is more than capable of, maybe in fear of losing the ball? A small percentage of fans are increasingly becoming frustrated with him but given our incredible start to the season certain supporters always need to be complaining about something, at the minute his average start is the closest thing we have to a negative for some people.
That said, the positives of having Obertan in our side far out way negatives. I’m not sure how familiar some Man United supporters will be with goings on at Tyneside but we have played without a right winger for two seasons now. In the Championship we played for the most part with Guthrie, a centre midfielder, out wide and then in our first season back to the Premiership we played Joey Barton in that position. This made our attacking heavily dependent on left side of midfield with Enrique and Jonas, it didn’t take the opposition too long to figure that out so we were increasingly quelled and then bombarded down our weaker right flank. Since Obertan has come into the side we finally have a balance in our attacking play with more than one option, which has helped immensely going forward as well as defending.
The strengths we’ve seen so far from Obertan are something most of you will already be familiar with. Above all else he is stupidly fast and if he can harness this correctly with his direct running he will tear apart pretty much every side outside of the top four or five. Also with him, Ben Arfa and Jonas playing across the midfield we could become a very dangerous side on the counter attack just with the sheer amount of pace we have at our disposal. His defensive work rate has also been impressive for most of the games he has played; he has tracked back well and really helped out Danny Simpson particularly when trying to stop Gareth Bale against Spurs last week.
Almost all of his weaknesses, in my opinion, come down solely to an issue of confidence. Fair enough people can argue his final ball is poor but something like that should improve over time and training with the coaches. The way he always attempts a safe pass rather than running at his man or how he doesn’t fully commit himself to taking on a defender in what seems to be a fear of losing the ball or making a mistake. The perfect example of this was in our recent game against Spurs, he was played the ball just inside their half he had the whole pitch with a 1v1 against Assou Ekotto (someone I regard as a fairly average defender) yet he never fully attacked him and eventually the move broke down without ever really getting started.
I’m hoping with a regular place in our starting line-up he will begin to start exploring his potential that he showed while playing for Bordeaux albeit playing on the left of midfield. With no real competition for places in that position in our squad he will certainly get the games to do it. My only concern is that if it doesn’t happen sooner rather than later more fans will become frustrated with him and with a player clearly already low on confidence I doubt it will do him or us any benefit. That said, I’m confident he will come good and I’m definitely pleased we managed to sign him. It could become one of those “I can’t believe he only cost that much” dealings.
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