Date:Monday August 11 2014
Since scoring a thunderbolt of a winner at Goodison Park back in September 2010 and putting in the type of shift that is idolised by many, Hatem Ben Arfa has been adored up here on Tyneside.
He's not the every day type of player and possesses the unpredictable edge that seperates the normal from the world class with his nimble feet and ease at which he can pass a player. Although consistancy generally decides the cream of the crop over time but in his case, has he been the victim rather than the perpetrator?
Has he simply been too good for the set up around him where his brain is two steps ahead of the game or not suited to the hit and hope?
Has frustration got the better of him when really his talents have deserved a greater tactician or better platform?
Who can forget the moments of cliche when if a Messi, Ronaldo or Bale had done it, we'd hear about it repeated on the usual droning media outlets.
The FA Cup goal in which ITV tried their best to hide in a quick highlights slot although beating around seven players and raking a final minute shot in the roof of the net couldn't be ignored or the many twenty five or thirty yard efforts raked or bent superbly past outstretched keeper's hands, cue Aston Villa, Fulham and co.
The great team goals he's been part of and my personal favourite when he ran from his own half against Bolton which had current enemy Alan Pardew drooling and milking the crowds applause.
Now though, he's just banished. The reason has to be asked and answered.
It can't just be a simple case of an Oliver style falling out, the case of the boy who asked for more or a player craving food, glorious food although the stories eminated of him being overweight and fined.
All we know is that Pardew doesn't want the player around anymore and finds excuse after excuse as to what the problem is with the latest just being as hypocritical as they come from him as to him calling Ben Arfa unprofessional.
The amount of times that Ben Arfa was singled out for not tracking back or being subbed when not the worst player just smacks of desperation.
Ben Arfa is the scapegoat for Pardew's failings as a boss. A manager unable to find tactics that work so opts for his safety first approach which has a tendency to sit deep. This tactic shows the flaw in the attacking midfielders game and it's not in his instinct to do that, hence his frustration.
It's also speculated that Ben Arfa had the balls to speak up in the dressing room during a debate about why the team was doing so badly and he complained that the team was too reliant on long balls forward. he was speaking the truth but Pardew didn't like it.
Stories of unrest and other players not liking him have followed although there's no substance.
It's plainly obvious that a Bobby Robson or a Kevin Keegan type figure would get the best out of Hatem Ben Arfa and not let him rot away in a book shop somewhere because that is nothing short of a disgrace.
However with Alan Pardew being allowed to get away with much under Mike Ashley's single handed assault on ruining the club and loading his pockets, I fear this will be hidden under piles of propaganda and replaced with the next victim in time.
Date:Monday August 11 2014
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