The Sho must go on...and so must the great Ameobi debate

By Lee Ryder on Aug 10, 11 09:29 AM

You haven't lived in Newcastle if you haven't been present or heard a debate about Shola Ameobi, well that debate will be going on until at least 2014.

They do occur randomly and are usually quite high up on the agenda of most Geordie fans and nothing quite splits supporters like a conversation about Shola.

The last one I encountered was in a taxi when the driver said: "What do people see in Shola man?"

Well, that's a big can of worms but since Ameobi made his debut for the first team 11 years ago, only Kevin Keegan took the plunge of trying to move the long-serving striker on.

Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Big Sam, Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew have all liked what Ameobi has to offer.

Alan Shearer didn't have enough time to make a decision on the player during his short stint in charge but having played alongside him - Shola set up his 201st record breaking goal - Big Al would know better than most what he brings to the table.

One thing that seems to be crystal clear and that is his attitude at the training ground is that of a model pro who loves the club.

Indeed, he's played through broken cheekbones, smashed teeth and a host of other injuries wearing gumshields and eye masks to boot - more than a host of overseas flops who simply only cared about the money.

There have been many talented players at Newcastle down the years but unless you can bring it all to the table on a daily basis at training, you may as well not turn up.

Managers enjoy working with Ameobi and feel he is a great leader.

My personal opinion is that Ameobi brings presence to the team in attack and can - on his day throw defenders around in the style of an Andy Carroll - but unfortunately that "day" does not come consistently enough in the eyes of his critics.

As sure as night follows day, an ordinary/poor performance will follow one of the players Super Shos!

Indeed when it comes to top notch performances, I think they only come once every four or five games.

At times he wastes the great opportunities and nets the difficult ones, but there have been plenty of players down the years capable of that.

Then there are the stats.

His 71 goals so far in black and white mean he could (arguably) at least achieve half of Shearer's record in the three years he has signed up for.

Ameobi is 26 behind Bryan Pop Robson in the all time scoring chart at NUFC and can go level in the top 10 in the latter years of his Toon career.

In the Premier League Ameobi is two shy of his 50th after 141 starts and 95 sub appearances.

Ameobi has three goals in nine starts in the FA Cup and three sub appearances.

He loves the League Cup with seven goals from eight starts and three sub appearances.

And in Europe he has 12 goals from 26 starts and 12 appearances.

They are just the straight stats and you can make your own mind up.

Yet there are those who genuinely do like Shola.

The Ameobi song will always be a big hit with fans and the fact that a local lad is playing for the team means a lot to many.

Sometimes Ameobi will pull off some raw skill and dance round defenders like Maradona but there are times when all that follows is a tame shot straight at the keeper.

But what you can't deny is, Ameobi has scored some BIG goals for Newcastle United.

Ask Sunderland for starters.

Ameobi has also bagged in the Champions League for the Toon and scored some great goals down the years for the Magpies.

So whatever you think, you can't say the Sunderland slayer has not provided you with some memories that will live forever.


Fergie said:

I used to have a love/hate relationship with Shola, like most people, but I'm not sure what has happened in the last few years that has made me eradicate the 'hate' part of said relationship. Everyone knows his biggest problem is consistency, or lack thereof. I would go as far as to say that Shola is nearly world-class (whatever that is) in about 3 games a season - usually the 2 mackems games plus 1 other (Wolves last season), where he is unbeatable in the air, silky on the ground, his first touch ensures the ball stays at his feet and he bags a couple of goals. Not to mention his incredible penalty-taking prowess. Perhaps it is the injuries he has played through and the fact that people became sick of seeing mercenaries less-deserving of a place in the team starting ahead of someone who cares... or maybe it's just that people are resigned to him staying forever and have accepted his weaknesses. I'm not sure, but I know that although he does have his doubters and always will, a lot of people have come to accept him for what he his. Love him or loathe him, he cares, which is a lot more than can be said of the team that took us down in 2009.

Steve Shear said:

Good article, and very good first comment from Fergie. I've got nothing against the bloke, and, as Fergie says, he cares. But, the truth is that he's just not a threat to Premier league defences, I always feel that the opposition feel better for him being on the field than do our supporters. I will be very disappointed if he starts against Arsenal on Saturday, especially if he starts at the expense of Lovenkrands, who is a far better player and goals per fame since joining Newcastle much better too. But, if he starts, it means we haven't signed a new striker before the season starts, tons of midfield players, but NO STRIKER!!!???

Relton said:

Lets look at thsi statement:
"One thing that seems to be crystal clear and that is his attitude at the training ground is that of a model pro who loves the club."

Yes - we've all seen him frustrate but the above is a vital criteria that we must cherish among theplaying staff. Nolan had it - I thought that Carrol had it - and Barton has it. Lets support Shola foir having it - despite teh stick he takes - his enthusiasm never wanes.

The lad loves the club - loves playing - to the extent where he actually wanted to stay on at Fulham with an injured face. Until he got injured inthe dark days of the CL - he was the one that got the ball rolling - so lets hear it for the sho.

NordicNinja said:

Interesting to see the list of managers to whom you refer to as "liked what Ameobi has to offer" Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Big Sam, Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew. I would suggest our beloved Sir Bobby could be erased from such a list on the basis that he introduced the clown to Premiership football obviously with the belief that he had potential to progress. The other jokers to whom you refer as liking him......well what can one say, I would probably equate their management skills to Ameobi’s football skills, hence of course they liked him. As we say, like attracts like. KK, apart from SBR, being the only decent manager we have had at the club in many a decade, made one of his first tasks back in charge to getting rid of Shola. Personally I think this speaks volumes.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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