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Toon claim much-needed win

Newcastle Oct 18, 2014
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 By Lee Ryder
Jul 31, 2014

Ben Arfa's brilliance lacks consistency

Hatem Ben Arfa has fallen down the pecking order at Newcastle and is now training with the reserves.

They say there are two sides to every story. Today we received Hatem Ben Arfa's account of his situation at Newcastle, with his agent Michel Ouazine saying that the club's treatment of his client is unfair and humiliating.

"We don't know what the problem is," Ouazine said. "[Manager Alan] Pardew in the past has said Hatem was extraordinary. Hatem has done everything for Newcastle, every effort has been made to discuss the problem. We are in a situation where there doesn't seem to be a solution."

So what's the story here?

Ben Arfa has spent his Newcastle career pushing the envelope, but last season he talked himself into two heated exchanges with Pardew after humiliating losses to Manchester United and Stoke City. He hasn't kicked a ball with the first team since that awful 1-0 loss to the Potters.

Pardew appears to have lost patience with the Frenchman, and while fans chanted Ben Arfa's name during the win over Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night, there appears to be no way back to the first team for the midfielder.

On his day, he can look like a world-beater. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough of those days.

Some have argued that Pardew should do a better job of man-managing this special talent, but France managers Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc have had similar problems with the former Marseille man.

Of course, injuries have done more than their share in derailing Ben Arfa's career. There was the brutal double break at the hands of Nigel de Jong during the Chris Hughton era that ruled Ben Arfa out for the season.

Ironically, it was Pardew who signed then-loanee Ben Arfa just days after being appointed manager. It would have been easy to wait and see if the Frenchman would recover properly before turning a loan into a permanent deal.

Instead, Pardew put faith in the player and hoped he would blossom into a real star. He did, but only now and again, and only when the mood took him.

So now Ben Arfa finds himself training under the guidance of someone who demonstrated just as much talent on the field during his own career. Ben Arfa has drooled over the skills of Peter Beardsley, Newcastle's reserves coach, who can't get through a day without signing an autograph on Tyneside. And it's with Beardsley and the reserves that Ben Arfa will stay, by the look of it.

Ben Arfa's options are straightforward: Either he can sit it out in the reserves and hope there is a change in manager in the near future, or he can move on to pastures new.

However, there doesn't seem to be much of a queue of interested clubs from the bright lights of Europe. There are rumours of a move to the Middle East, a reported bid from an unnamed Ukrainian club, and supposed interest from AC Milan.

But at the moment, there's nothing but rumours and reports -- nothing concrete.

Until somebody is brave enough to show their hand and save Ben Arfa from a season playing against kids from under-21 teams up and down the land, this is a career that failed to grow into anything other than potential and hope.

Lee Ryder

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