Homesick Coloccini gives his best in draw

Posted by Marc Duffy

Jamie McDonald/Getty ImagesNewcastle's Fabricio Coloccini, right, gave a solid effort in the 0-0 draw at Norwich despite his recent pronouncement he wishes to return to Argentina

When the news broke late Thursday evening that Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini had asked the club if he could move back to Argentina during this transfer window, a club in trouble became even more at risk.

- Davitt: Norwich stop the rot in stalemate

I'm not going to get into the rumours and speculation surrounding his reasons for Colo wanting a move - you can find them on hundreds of different pages across the internet if that is your thing - but the fact is if Coloccini goes Newcastle are in greater danger of relegation.

For a few years Newcastle could have done with another centre half to play alongside Colo. Steven Taylor has played well there, but he struggles to play for any more than a few months at a time. No player has arrived but manager Alan Pardew suggested that could change in this window.

The departure of Colo would mean that two new central defenders were needed and I can't see that happening at all. If it did we'd still have the fact that two new players, probably new to the league, each other and all of their teammates, would have to settle immediately in.

Coloccini is the perfect example of how hard this is to do -- he struggled badly in his debut season. No, Coloccini leaving in January would be an absolutely huge blow.

The news hit the mainstream only 24 hours before Saturday's important game at Norwich City. Amongst all of the rumours and speculation was word that Coloccini would travel to Norwich and that he'd play. This decision was questioned by some -- was he in the right frame of mind to play?

More cynical observers asked if he deserved to play if he didn't want to be at the club anymore. With so few options at his disposal Pardew had to play him. Even if he had more options, the selection of Coloccini is vital.

Newcastle took the field at Carrow Road in the knowledge that Grant Holt had failed a late fitness test and was on the bench - although Coloccini is a vastly superior player to Holt this was good news. As you'd expect, the travelling Newcastle fans gave Coloccini a fantastic reception.

The 0-0 game was dire. Neither side managed to give the opposing keeper a difficult afternoon with an appalling lack of attacking quality evident.

Tim Krul barely touched the ball in the first half and although Norwich keeper Mark Bunn saved well from Gabriel Obertan, Newcastle lacked any sort of cutting edge. Time after time again the final ball was overhit across goal to no one or straight out for a goal kick.

At one point Vurnon Anita kicked a corner straight out of play for a goal kick - the worst corner I've seen in my entire life. The referee blew the halftime whistle on 45:02, presumably to stop the crowd from slipping into a coma.

On the plus side Krul had such a quiet time because his defence, including debutant Matthieu Debuchy, were very comfortable against their opposing players.

The second half wasn't much better. Sylvain Marveaux appears to have two modes - one, the most influential player on the park; and two, completely anonymous. Saturday afternoon was mode 2. Obertan was very lucky to start after his terrible performance at Brighton last week. He was very poor again - beat the man, pass to no one, jog about for a while.

He was taken off on 56 for the returning Yohan Cabaye and responded petulantly. Clearly the lad is delusional.

In the opening 20 minutes or so Newcastle played through the middle quite often, but as the game went on the 60-yard hoof became the tactic of choice. Everyone can see that Papiss Cisse struggles with this. Cisse is a goal poacher. A finisher. He's not the big, physical, aerially superior Demba Ba. Therefore Cisse, had no impact at all. Service to him was abysmal and Newcastle carried very little attacking threat.

Coloccini continued to glide through the game -- an interception here, taking the ball easily off his man there.

Norwich introduced Holt on 67 and began to apply more pressure. But the Newcaste defence and Krul stood firm to keep their first Premier League clean sheet away from home in eight months. If this is a distracted Coloccini, then long may he continue. I just hope that the club and their captain can come to an agreement that will allow Fabricio to play out the final 16 league games.

The stalemate, along with Southampton's win at Aston Villa, dropped Newcastle down one league place into 16th, two points above Villa who are in 18th. This was only Newcastle's fifth away point this season -- a record that must be improved if relegation is to be avoided.

Next Saturday is absolutely vital - Reading come to St James' Park and Newcastle must win. No excuses.

Oh Coloccini, if you stay until May and help us out of this hole, you can go to Argentina forever and you really will be a love of my life.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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