The Ameobi argument – keep or sell?

Posted on January 26th, 2011 | 75 Comments |

Shola Ameobi, Newcastle United
Does he earn his pay packet?
Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi seems to divide opinion, with some fans eager to get shot of him at the first opportunity and with others jumping to his defence. This article looks at both sides of the argument.

I had an argument with my wife the other day. Having left our TomTom at home, it was one of those typical man and wife arguments about asking directions.

My wife wanted to stop and ask someone the way and I thought that was the most ludicrous idea I’d ever heard and refused to ask directions. She accused me of being a loser and I said that, being a Villa supporter, she’d know all about being a loser. Then I was given the silent treatment, which at least meant I could peacefully get on with following a car at random, which is my tactic in such circumstances.

Anyway, we got where we wanted to be and I was very smug. My wife said I was just lucky but I insisted the end result was what counts.

Which brings me to Shola Ameobi and the ‘end result’ that strikers must achieve to earn their pay packet.

The main purpose of a striker is surely to score goals. Yes, a good, ‘complete’ striker will have other attributes too, but if they don’t score goals they’re about as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking contest. Or, at least, they need significant additional attributes – such as setting up other strikers, match-winning goals, holding the ball up etc. – to make up for a poor strike rate.

Here’s a list of some of our Premiership strikers – past and present – and their strike rates while at Newcastle:

Andy Cole: played 70, scored 55, strike rate 79%
Les Ferdinand: played 68, scored 41, strike rate 60%
Alan Shearer: played 303, scored 148, strike rate 49%
Peter Beardsley: played 147, scored 61, strike rate 41%
Andy Carroll: played 80, scored 31, strike rate 39%
Michael Owen: played 71, scored 26, strike rate 37%
Peter Lovenkrands: played 51, scored 18, strike rate 35%
Obafemi Martins: played 88, scored 28, strike rate 32%
Craig Bellamy: played 93, scored 28, strike rate 30%
Shola Ameobi: played 226, scored 46, strike rate 20%
Mark Viduka: played 38, scored 7, strike rate 18%

It doesn’t bode well for Shola does it? He’s second bottom of that random list of strikers I chose and I had to hunt around quite a bit to find a forward with worse strike rate (thanks Mark Viduka!).

Does Shola have other attributes that make up for his rather disappointing strike rate? If the answer to that question is no then surely he’s a liability we need to replace with someone else. If the answer is yes, please tell me what those attributes are.

I would suggest that there’s also an argument for retaining Shola, though, and that’s as a squad player; a striker who is never intended to be a first choice but is used mainly as a substitute or a backup for when the other strikers are injured. It could be argued that Shola has been used this way throughout his career and it could also be argued that it is unrealistic to expect the same strike rate from a player used thusly.

What do you think?

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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75 Responses

  1. I’m guessing it’s a different story with a goals to minutes ratio like.
    Shola is 2nd highest euro scorer & 2nd highest v the mackems.
    That balances it up a little.

  2. Oh lor, Hugh… an argurment with your wife eh? I think I understand the root of your pen-name!!!

    Getting lost too….. tut, tut, tut….. oh dear, the sin of sins.

    Re Shola, let’s look at the debate as of now… unless we’ve someone better to take his place as a striker, we can’t afford to lose him. To buy a striker now would cost a fortune (eg Bent @ £18-£24mm.

    The short answer to the question must be he stays for the remainder of the season

  3. Keep him he looks slow & lazy but he has a lot of ability. I don’t think he will ever be #1 but he is a very good back up for the like of Carroll

  4. Take a different look at Shola’s stats and you will see that his strike rate per start is closer to 40%(69 goals from 175 starts), Lovenkrands is closer to 60%, Carroll’s is over 55%.

    Shola is the 2nd top scorer for NUFC in Europe, joint 5 highest goal tally in the last 50 years, and joint 9th since the war.

    There is good, and there is effective. (Thanks to the statto on for the stats).

    Who else will be a stand in striker with the same effectiveness for the price he would fetch?

  5. We all know he ain’t owt special, but who else could we buy with the 1.5m Birmingham offered?

    Personally, in this day and age with stupidly inflated transfer fees I’d keep him as decent cover for Carroll.

    I wouldn’t take any less than 5m for him, and you’d have to give me a Chinese burn to accept that.

  6. I’m for Strola to go because of his inability to score goal, even though he himself claims he’s a 20 goal a season striker.. yeah ok…

    But I also admit that I have applauded his efforts when I see fit, ie the Chelski league game, he played a blinder but apart from the form he showed then, he’s not reliable enough to play as a regular first team player, he can’t play the full 90 mins & this shows, he’s not too bad as an impact sub, say the last 30 mins or if started, the first 60 mins but not the whole game & I was shocked that Pardew left Strola on the pitch against the Spurts & replaced Best, who was playing very well… :0

    In some games Strola gets lost but then every now & then, he holds the ball up or wins a header for us but his overall work isn’t up to the standard we need at the club, he’s had 10 years in the 1st team & fails literally in every department ie scoring, ball control, passing, heading, hold up play etc…

    It’s time to let go, no matter if he’s become part of the furniture, we need to sell him while we can, now!!

  7. Aye lads,
    new striker in first before any sales.
    Btw Hugh,
    funny story mate & loved the way it all ties in with Shola in the end.

    Great vehicle.

  8. Regardless of what we think of him,
    other teams rate him as dangerous, he upsets defenders (a few fans too :) ).
    When he gets it right,
    he shoots early & beats the keeper, is tricky with ball to feet, somehow wriggles out of tackles & dishes a good assist, wins headers to runners, draws defenders &
    creates space. Oh yea, he takes a mean pen too.

  9. I must admit to being on the fence with this one myself. I simply don’t know.

    I don’t think we should sell him for a measly £1.5m though.

  10. got shot asap while the offer is there tryed twice to off-load him nobody would,if we have found a mug,mug em,
    hes fitness prone too,cash in

  11. for 1.5 mill were are we gonna find a premier league striker to replace him no thanks he does a job for us and has won us some games in the past

  12. Take the 1.5 mil and put it towards another striker. I’d have a crack at bendter from arsenal, loan with buy. Carroll, bendter, ranger 3 young hungry strikers for a cracking future!

  13. I say keep him. He may be inconsistent and injury prone, but he’s better quality than the average bench warmer. He’s delivered in some difficult situations and he’s black and white through and through. Also, I don’t think we’d get a better replacement for the money we’re likely to be offered for him.

    For all his faults, I still like the lad.

  14. I would have to say get rid,I dont feel he offers much for the team as a whole and is far too lazy for his own good. I think he is partly to blame for us losing four points as he had a fantastic chance against Sunderland and again two or three against spurs that a decent striker should be putting away. He’s been at the club for far too long now and I don’t understand what these managers see in him. He must be amazing I training,but training g is not a premier league match and he is playing against his own team mates. Time to go shola!!!!

  15. At long last he’s playing the best football of his career and as Andy Carroll has said he prefers playing up front with Shola. It’s a no brainer let these two play together regularly and let see if the sparks fly. It could be the perfect combination at last,or at least lets give it an extended run.In the majority of the games these two have started together we’ve had some terrific results.

  16. Unbelievable that some people think we should sell for £1.5M!! We are probably a striker short anyway, it would be madness to sell him now especially for that fee. We wouldn’t have enough time or money to replace him with someone better. If we got £3M – £4M for him and we could get Keanne in to replace him then that would be good business imo but I cant see that happening.

  17. Paying another club £1.5m to take Strola off our hands is a great deal,.. do it now… lol ;)

    Only kidding… but some people are seriousy kidding themselves if they think that Strola is worth anyting more than £2.5m max!!.. get a grip of reality will you, you’re all talking as if he’s a PL striker & he’s not.. the only time he’s scored double figure’s in a season was last season with 10.. he’s not worth much more than £1.5m, £2m at a stretch & if as reports are suggesting that the Brum are going to up their bid for £2.5m, then snatch their arm off & I’ll fly over from Cyprus to drive him to Brum myself.. lol :)

  18. He’s just unpredictable. Just simple like that. The bad thing thing is he miss more than hit.

    Sell him now ? I don’t think so. Buy new quality one and let him cover on the bench is better choice.

  19. Thanks Cyprus toon, I’m with you. Why not sell shoal to Birmingham for £1.5 million and get larsson thrown into the deal to take it up to £2 million. He isn’t worth much more than that.

  20. 46 goals in 10 seasons. Wow. – I don’t care if he has scored the 2nd most against Sunderland because frankly they’ve been a poor team barring last few seasons. The best goal he ever scored was against Barca at Camp Nou, 8 years ago. 2nd highest Euro Scorer? Does this include the Inter toto? You’ll never find a worse player for work ethic and ability to miss simple chances Sandra Redknapp would bury.

  21. sell him, dreadfully inconsistent, rarely has end product, not a game winner, he does disrupt defences however any big lad should be a handful. this will be the last chance of making some money on a player who has had 10 years at Newcastle and done nothing. If we had paid money for Shola and seen these preformances we would all want rid of him, it shouldn’t be a case of him playing just because he’s part of the furniture. I’d suggest cash (not a lot) and Seb Larsson for Ameobi.

  22. I’m not saying that he is worth between £3M – £4M but that doesn’t matter, I’m saying sell for that because otherwise we’ll be a striker short and only getting a small fee. We are doing really well in the league so far with the players we already have, why rush through a sale and panic-buy a striker as a replacement? We can get rid (though for much less) in the summer but have more options available for a replacement.

  23. Sell sell sell sell for me, without being unkind or ungrateful to him for me his place in the squad stops the development of younger players, Ranger springs to mind plus we have young Airey coming through, these kids needs game time and bench time.

    Changing the subject ever so slightly, can anyone tell me why Vukic seems to have gone missing from the first team scene, surely he should be in at the moment in midfield

  24. There is no ways we can let Shola go for less than around 5mil… I would however like to see Best and Ranger starting upfront together for a game or 2 just to see how they work together, as long as Andy is injured in any case.

  25. Ok Boys,

    I carn’t understand why people are happy to sell Ameobi for a petty 1.5 million……

    He is in the mold of a target man, good in the air and good on the ground, holding the ball up & bringing team mates into play.

    The Sunderland games as an example, Sunderland were crying out for this type of player, In fact the premier leauge is crying out for these type of players.

    + Ameobi is a Geordie and is on a decent wage.

    His premier leauge goals ratio is not great however he is a target man how many players on that list are target men?

  26. this season ameobi has bagged more goals that the likes of wayne rooney FACT hahaha

  27. Saw Ameobi in his early days in the first team against Birmingham at home. We lost 2-1. At the time I said he should never wear a Newcastle shirt again. Since then, nothing has happened to make me change my mind.

  28. Antmanbee – Good point (Ha!).

    Just wondering who people expect to warm the bench until Carrol gets crocked again. Ranger? How many has he scored in the last two seasons?

    I think Lovenkrands will probably move on in the summer, if he isn’t getting first team chances, and Best is still very much an unknown quantity.

    Shola wants to play for the first team, but he’ll sit on the bench without complaining or unsettling any of the other players if he doesn’t a start.

    Bear in mind that, if goals are the currency of the striker’s success, this season, Shola’s value is greater than; Wayne Rooney, Nicklas Bendtner, Emannuel Adebayor, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nikola Zigic, Carlton Cole, Ricardo Fuller, Tuncay, Jermain Becford and many, many more.

    And that’s without taking cup goals into account.

  29. i would sell shola,but only if he was replaced by someone who is a step up from him.
    lets be honest,if birmingham want to pay the money for an injury prone player,who cost nothing,and at the age of 29,we should snap their hands off.
    it maybe the only chance to get a sell on fee for a player who’ll be thirty soon.
    any kind of sentiment should fall by the wayside,and the practicality of the situation should kick in.

  30. Pardew should start ranger more often instead of Ameobi. Ameobi is just ok. Maybe when he see’s ranger on the pitch instead of him he might feel the need to run and shoot more. All he is doing currently is keeping his head above water.

  31. If I were AP, I’d ask Shola to grow in his hair & see if it helps him control his headers.

    Like Jonas, Shola knows his team and his duties to it. That may not look pretty to some, but when you need form, it is priceless. Shola may not be dazzling creative when he gets the ball, but he does have moves and is two-footed as well. So to defenders, he is more of a challenge than a “one trick pony.” You have to admit, he is most often the winner on receiving long kicks.

    MA certainly does not need the 1.5 for Shola and the offer may explain the state of Brums finances. Keep him.

  32. This is a fascinating one: I don’t know why Shola inspires such selective memories in fans!

    (Well, apart from looking like he’s putting no effort in even when he is..)

    Hugh: those stats aren’t all that much use. What does tell a story is the recent (i.e. 1 – 2 seasons) strike rate per minute. That is the stat that shows the value of a striker in terms of goal scoring. On that basis last season I think Shola was ahead of AC up to the last few games.

    Those saying he’s useless in most games just aren’t remembering facts and need to trawl the player ratings for this season. He’s played several good games, a couple of blinders (AP’s MOTM on Saturday) and only a couple of poor ones – on days when frankly the whole team did.

    Bottom line: If you can’t replace a player with better for the money you get, and you don’t have surplus players, you’d mad to sell. (Routledge, anybody? What the hell are they at??(

    Someone happily chucked in the name Bentner. Probably not far off the price Bent got us. So well done; that £1.5M you got leaves us just the other £22.5m to find. Prat.

    So of course we should keep him. His strike rate hasn’t been great recently but it’s still 2nd best after AC, whether the Strolla-bashers like it or not. More to the point: when he plays we tend to score, because those 10 years have made him a hell of a handful for defences and he creates holes for other players to exploit.

    Those who only like strikers whose legs move really quickly will always hate Strolla. But I like the guy and I’m glad he’s keeping us in the race at the moment.

  33. Whumpie says: “Hugh: those stats aren’t all that much use.”


    Fair point. I picked one of many sets of stats I could have used and, let’s face it, it’s always possible to find a set of stats somewhere to justify any argument.

    In reality I tend to think that, whilst stats can sometimes be useful, there are also more subjective attributes that contribute to a player’s ‘worth’.

  34. Sell him and the £1.5m would cover the costs of:

    from 26 Jan 2011 08:33:47 Newcastle Rumours:

    “Ireland to defo joining on loan. Taarabt is top target, him and Ben Arfa would interchange from left wing and forward positions or new formation of 433 could come into play with free roles for Ben arfa and Taarabt either side of Carroll. Cleverley or Legear could also be future signings”

    [from: 26 Jan 2011 08:33:47 Newcastle Rumours]

    I wonder which planet this guy’s on?

  35. I think reading the comments I can see 2 things that say it all. We could only get 1.5 million for shola and we wouldn’t accept 5 or less? It doesn’t really say much for the bloke, you would think we were talking about a defender, nevermind a premier league striker. I won’t like his style of playing ever, I think it’s lazy and as for him being on the end of long balls, his 1st touch is complete rubarb and my heart sinks when I do see the ball heading in his direction, knowing not to expect much. I don’t want that in a striker, it’s not effective, it’s consistent, just what the opposition love.

  36. Hugh, more on the stats.

    It’s frequently the case that if you leave one or two factors out of statistics, they can be somewhat deceptive, and they are in Ameobi’s case. This is because many times in his Newcastle career, he has only made substitute appearences, only coming on for the last few minutes of a game. A far more accurate gauge of his goalscoring prowess would be to use the amount of minutes Ameobi has played between goals scored.

  37. Hugh: also, I doubt if the stat I suggested even exists, so nowt wrong with you putting the ones you did – decent bit of research!

    I think it does make a valid point that Shola’s not now going to blossom into another Shearer. But we don’t need another Shearer right now – we need cover/partner for AC to get us to the end of the season above 18th. Shola’s proven consistently that he can do that, while none of the others (except possibly Lovenkrands) can do that.

  38. After the vast amount of opportunity he has remained very ordinary a squad player at best.My main concern is he is restricting others the opportunity he has had.When AC is back he should be dropped down the pecking order allowing others more game time.

  39. Workyticket @ 40:

    Some good points, mate…(though the “us” after Bent got me furrowing me brow a bit…until I read 41 ;0) !

    Couldn’t agree more about Bentner…even at a fraction of that ridiculus price tag !

  40. Nugmag: If by “game time” you mean competitive league matches, that isn’t when you play about finding who may or may not be able to do more than Shola. They all get the chance to show their stuff in training; obviously Shola’s showing more and better stuff than the others, and the performances so far of Best, Lover, Ranger and Xisco have backed that up.

    Lover’s probably pretty close, Best has had one flash of brilliance among many dark days, Ranger is almost there but not quite. Xisco should be cleaning boots. Bottom line is: there’s quite a drop in quality once you’re past AC, but Shola’s just about the best of the group at the moment.

  41. Shot to goal ratio might be useful too:

    Shearer: 0.62
    Cole: 0.48
    Best: 0.33
    Viduka: 0.21
    Carroll: 0.17
    Lovenkrands: 0.17
    Shola: 0.12

    Anyway, enough stats, I’ve got work to do!

  42. Hugh/Worky:

    Why not compile two sets of stats, which can then both be compared to give a broader picture…Starts ( but may not necessarily mean 90 minutes ), and Sub appearences?

    Stats are mebbe’s only a guide at best, as they can be read selectively, or in isolation from other mitigating circumstantial factors. It all adds up to the big picture, though, but for me, I’d say Shola has been, is and can still continue to be a good player for us, and better than those stats reflect.

  43. ant, as I admitted earlier in the thread, I don’t think stats tell the full story and there will always be a subjective element.

    If, for example, we’re trying to assess the ‘worth’ of a striker then the stats in my article aren’t fair on strikers who regularly come on as subs or are substituted themselves.

    Goals to minute might give a better assessment of pure striking ability but when it comes to a striker’s total ‘worth’ we’d also have to ask why the striker isn’t good enough to be the first pick anyway.

    And it could go on and on and on.

  44. as its been said hes probably the most frustrating player with have, with him being so inconsistant. every player has their price, but 1.5M is not sholas.

  45. Magpie28 @50: And what if Ranger continues to draw blanks? We’re 8 points off the relly zone. Would you put Shola back in once we’d dropped 6, or 9…?

    You DON’T experiment at times like this. You use what works.

    Don’t get me wrong: I see Ranger as the perfect partner-in-training for AC. But if we got relegated because “he needed game time” I don’t think the decision would look so wise. This is a good example of why you don’t aim for 6th when you should be aiming for 17th. We ain’t broke, and don’t need fixing.

  46. Yeah, agreed Hugh. And so it goes on…goals/minutes on pitch would be a decent short stick to measure forwards by especially.

    I think if we are going to look at stats, though, then we should go the whole way. Is it Opta…not quite sure, but there are stats available, that reflect all aspects of each players game, pass/accurate pass ratio, shots/shots on target ratio, possession time, etc…in each game.

  47. Well, no doubt that link ice put up has helped to boost talksports website traffic. I’m convinced that the majority of rumours are just made up to get people visiting the site. We need to just do what Holloway has just done with Charlie Adam, stick on over inflated price tag on the player and if some mug pays it, fair enough. I think £35m should be about right for Enrique. Taking into account his age and potential.
    Along with the £30m we will get from spurs for Andy Carroll, that would give us a decen amount to get in a shed load of new players.

    Anyway back to Ameobi. Why sell and replace with someone the same, worse or no one at all?

    Also, the Ireland rumours are really hotting up. Shame bobby shinton no longer posts (not really) or he would have been able to tell us exactly who is coming in and when.
    We’ve also been warned off Tarbaat so I wouldn’t be surprised if we did sign him.

  48. icedog says:
    January 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    “ameobi i wish worky,its jose”

    Aye, Ice. I’d bet that some Geordie jaws would drop if Shola went to the San Siro!

  49. Micky – your grasp of the way the media works is spot on!

    “no doubt that link ice put up has helped to boost talksports website traffic”

    “We’ve also been warned off Tarbaat so I wouldn’t be surprised if we did sign him”

    That just about sums up how it works, I think. :)

  50. I would certainly take Shola before Owen, Martins or Viduka as I feel he has contributed more than any of them. He has also scored at least 2 goals worthy of goal of the month nomination this season but the MOTD sages felt otherwise (idiots).

    I still feel his first touch and dribbling skills kills too many promising moves for us and would like to see Ranger given a few full games as imo he is the better longer term option.

    Having said that £1.5 is a ludicrous price tag, I reckon there are a few Championship teams who would happily fork out twice that and still feel they were getting a bargain.

    Just as a matter of interest where does the 25 man squad rules figure in all of this. Could we really afford to let him go at present given our fit player total.

    By the way Hugh, the Shola angle is a real runner. ;)

  51. Aye grumpy,
    that volley v the mackems, why wasn’t that a contender for goal of the month?
    If that was v persie…?

  52. I’ve never been Shola’s greatest fan, he does contribute and his game has stepped up this season

    I guess its all down to who we would replace him with and funds (those mystical things that Fat Mike doesnt like to part with unless he is putting it on black/red) – does anyone know now much Shola gets a week from us? I cant see him being our highest earner TBF

  53. monkeymagic says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    “does anyone know now much Shola gets a week from us?”

    I think it’s around £30 / 30odd thousand per week on his latest contract, monkeymagic.