The curious case of Cheick Tiote

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United/Getty ImagesThe same Cheick Tiote that dominated last season versus Manchester United has gone missing this season at Newcastle.

If you went back a year or two and asked Newcastle fans their opinion of Cheick Tiote, the overwhelming majority would have been incredibly positive. He was a hero. A warrior in midfield capable of taking on and dominating some of the finest footballers in the league (more on that later). He'd win the ball and play it simple -- and he'd do it incredibly effectively though he picked up an awful lot of yellow cards along the way.

- Pardew hurt by criticism of players

If you asked the same people now they'd tell you that he should be nowhere near the first team and should be sold at the first opportunity. His market value has plummeted -- talk of £20million moves to Chelsea or Manchester United were obviously exaggerated, but if the club had sold him for £15million back then, the supporters would have been in uproar. Newcastle wouldn't receive half of that if they sold him now.

So where has it all gone wrong?

One theory is that Tiote's red card away to Sunderland earlier this season left him reluctant to challenge as he once did. It's important not to forget that the red card dished out by Martin Atkinson was the very first Tiote had received in his Premier League career -- hardly the red-card collection of Patrick Vieira for instance. It does look like Tiote's 'edge' has gone and he's a poorer player for it. Alan Pardew commented:

"It's not a laughing matter because he's one of our big players and I can't have him not playing. It could be costly and he needs to understand that."

Perhaps Tiote was never as good as we thought. There is no doubt that Newcastle fans, like fans of all other clubs, can be guilty of building up their players to a perceived level that is way above the reality. Is this the case with Tiote? I don't think so.

There is absolutely no way an average footballer could put in the level of performance that Tiote did in Newcastle's 3-0 win over Manchester United last season.

After that particular game, The Guardian wrote:

Tiote is very much the type of Roy Keane midfield enforcer Ferguson could desperately do with

That game was only 16 months ago!

The reason for Tiote's alarming dip in form is obvious. Speaking in The Sun newspaper back in 2011, Pardew commented:

"There is so much more to come from him if we can get him out of just popping it off safely. When he attacks teams and runs at them, he could be as effective for us as Essien is for Chelsea."

Clearly Tiote is trying his best to live up to his manager’s demands that he shouldn't 'pop it off safely'. Yes, the Pardew interview was in 2011 -- but he's been working with Tiote almost every day since then and we have watched Tiote time and time again hang on to the ball or try the occasional ludicrous 40 yard pass. When he 'attacks teams and runs at them' it usually ends with the Gallowgate End shouting SHOOOOOT, Tiote obliging, miscuing his shot and the same supporters then groaning about him shooting!

Please Cheick, I am not a footballer manager and never will be, but get back to basics and start to 'pop it off safely' again!

As for his role in the remaining three games of this season, he probably has to be left out. His recent form has been absolutely appalling and he can be a liability. Such a waste.

If Newcastle sell him in the summer and the right manager gets hold of him, we will see the re-emergence of Tiote and Newcastle will have lost out on a prized asset.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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