Ben Arfa on Pardew: “I will submit to his authority while maintaining my philosophy”

Posted on January 17th, 2012 | 32 Comments |

Hatem Ben Afra talks about his previous problems and how things are going at Newcastle.
Problematic past behind him now?
Hatem Ben Arfa has been talking about some of the problems he’s faced in his career and how things are shaping up for him at Newcastle United.

Hatem Ben Arfa spoke to the French press yesterday about some of the problems that have plagued his life and footballing career to date and how they’re being addressed at Newcastle. Before going on, I should say that I used Google Translate and my grade 4 CSE French to translate a lot of this, so it might not be 100% accurate!

Benny starts by summing up the problems he had:

I gave off something negative. I had bad energy. I am loud. I always wanted to participate in conversations. I had enormous difficulty submitting to authority

He then goes on to say what he thinks the root cause of that ‘attitude’ was:

My father never told me ‘I love you’. He ran out of affection in my life. He never managed to externalise his feelings. I do not want him. My father had no father. He reproduces a pattern I am trying to break for me because I have to move forward.

Ben Arfa’s problems continued when he got involved with a religious cult in Morocco:

It was a system like a cult. I was part of a movement with a spiritual leader. When I walked into the prayer hall, I had to kiss his feet. It was mandatory. Fortunately that day my ego saved me. I could not accept that. They indoctrinated me to a point where I was very vulnerable. They’ve almost cut off from everyone.

But he confirms he’s a ‘moderate’ Muslim these days:

Of course I do not eat pork. But I sometimes drink alcohol and I like girls. Religion helps me to be humble.

Benny goes on to say how all these things led to an attitude that didn’t make him very popular with coaches:

They didn’t dare talk to me. It was like this with coaches and with everyone. It was because of my attitude. When I realised that, I changed. I opened up. I work a lot on this part of my personality because I have to.

The interviewer went on to suggest that to do well he needs to be ‘loved’ by his coaches.

It’s easy to say that. Everybody needs love,” said Ben Arfa.

The interviewer then asks if Alan Pardew gives him the ‘love’ he needs and Benny said:

No. But I respect him for that choice. I ramp up my training, I try to be a good teammate. I know what I’m doing right now will make me play well. I’m working harder than ever.

Going on to talk some more about his relationship with Alan Pardew, he said that he’ll submit to Pardew’s authority but won’t compromise his playing style:

It’s always frustrating not to play, but instead of going to clash with the coach, as before, I drop it because I know I will lose. I will submit to his authority while maintaining my philosophy. Namely to play football my way with movement and passing. The coach likes to play long and direct. But I totally respect his philosophy. I’m not going to fight. My time will come. I have to be patient. I know what I have to do on the pitch. That wasn’t always the case before. But my approach now is much more cooperative.

I think Alan Pardew has got it about right with his treatment of Ben Arfa. Pardew’s the boss and he’s made sure Benny knows that, but he realises he’s got a sort of Asprilla on his hands: a player who has immense talent but needs to play in a certain way to unlock it. Because of Alan Pardew’s ‘preferred system’ at the moment and Benny’s need to play a certain type of football, he may find that it’s a little while before he’s an automatic starter as far as Pardew’s concerned. But Pardew also realises he’s got a player that can change games and, at the right time in the right system, Benny can be a huge player for us.

In fact, commenting on Sunday’s performance by Ben Arfa, Pardew said:

Hatem came on the pitch after the injury to Cabaye and gave us the flair and workrate we’ve been asking. In the last two games he’s put himself in a great position. He made a big difference, and I’m pleased with that.

So things may already be starting to look better for Benny. His development at Newcastle will involve some compromises on both sides. It is hard to knock Pardew’s ‘long ball’ game though. Just about everyone would prefer to watch a different sort of football but Pardew has to play the way he thinks he can win with the players at his disposal and our 6th place at the moment proves he’s got it right. At least up until now.

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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32 Responses

  1. It is certainly a tricky conumdrum to figure, keep playing 2 big boys and long ball – giving u strength and numbers in attack………Or 4-5-1 (as happened when sub made against QPR)?

    Personally, I’d go 4-5-1, with Best as lone striker and HBA on the wide wing/support striker.

    I know on sunday, it was 4-5-1, with Best wide left, Jonas wide right, HBA middle/attack……which worked, but i felt like Shola offered us nothing.

    Now, it’s hard to critise Shola fully, cos he can spurn chances frequently….and equally, come on as a sub and cream in a vital winner – U just never know what u’ll get.

    Also, is Best better than Shola at hold up play? prob not…His main talent seems to be poacher, fox-in-the-box.

    If either Best or Shola has to be dropped to accomodate HBA, i’d drop Shola, leave him as an impact sub for super goals, or hold up play.

  2. HBA is a different player when he grafts – and we still get the flair stuff from him. If he wants to be in the team on a regular basis he has to accept the work ethic that has got us to where we are (wherever that is LOL!).

  3. Long ball game is cr*p, it don’t work other than as an option during a game. Persistant long ball tactics play into the hands of the opposition unless you have the right players up front. We don’t, Shola just aint good enough or physical enough, this was painfully obvious in the QPR match. Pity as I believe he does genuinely try in games, but other than the odd flash of excellence it falls short to often for us to really shine as a team.

    We have looked better as a passing team and we have the players to play this way, long ball is a bad habit to get into and AP should realise this now, if he wants to manage a succesfull club.

  4. “Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa is to be sued for libel after saying he was press-ganged into joining a sect by French singer Abd al Malik, the artist’s lawyer has said.

    “A complaint will be filed,” Isabelle Weckstein told Reuters.

    She added that Al Malik’s manager Fabien Coste was also suing Ben Arfa.

    Ben Arfa said in an interview with L’Equipe on Monday that Al Malik and Coste had tried to force him into a Muslim fraternity, describing it thus: “Like in a sect.”

  5. Hugh says : “It is hard to knock Pardew’s ‘long ball’ game though. Just about everyone would prefer to watch a different sort of football but Pardew has to play the way he thinks he can win with the players at his disposal and our 6th place at the moment proves he’s got it right. At least up until now”.

    No Hugh, it is easy to knock it, but it difficult to get anyone one to listen – it is an indication of how things have slipped.

    If playing Best & Shola in a 4-4-2 is the answer they we have misunderstood the question.
    Perhaps we should bring back those mid-80s greats George Rielly (10 goals from 31 games) and Billy Whitehurst (7 from 28) to show them how to do it! It was dreadful then and its dreadful now – we hated it then, so why excuse it now?
    We have very good midfield players capable of dominating the centre in a 4-5-1 – the reason we don’t play that way is not a lack of skilful players but a lack of competant management.

  6. Supermac says:
    January 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    “but it difficult to get anyone one to listen – it is an indication of how things have slipped.”

    I’ve been corrected and told that I didn’t know what I was gannin’ on about for pointing it out. Whether our tactics are a good thing or a bad thing, quite a few Geordies nowadays just don’t seem to actually understand what’s happening on the pitch and seem only to see what they want to see.

  7. JW says:
    January 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    “according to Twitter, Mevlut Erdinc and his are agent at the training ground today to sign”

    According to whom on Twitter JW?

  8. however, all over Twitter now, and on Sky Sports, is that we’re signing Papiss Cisse – get in!!!

    “Newcastle United are set to seal a deal for Freiburg star Papiss Cisse, Sky Sports understands. More to follow..”

  9. cynicaltoonfan says:

    January 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    “If he gets 5 games under he starts to understand
    when to pass and when to dribble. Imagine how good
    he could be !!!!”

    I don’t really understand the problem cynicaltoonfan. He had a good game and I liked the way he kept the ball, spread the play and generally dragged QPR put of shape. Even though it was Cabaye who went off, we were a much better team after Ben Arfa came on, less “route one”.

  10. Why are some reports referring to the possible Cisse move as a ‘shock’?
    Everyone & their wife knew we were trying to get him in summer.

    How off the beaten track, how little interest in Newcastle/Freiburg?

  11. Indeed. Worky. I just linked the story in the previous article about cissokho (or however it’s spelt)

    Seems like it’s not just the usual media speculation. Apparently the medical will happen today and then he will return to Africa for the Cup Of Nations.

    Really hope this is true.

  12. I am inclined to think that Pardew is exactly the boss that Ben Arfa needs; and with an attitude from Ben Arfa to get with the programme, their relationship could work for the benefit of one and all. Perhaps not enough has been said about Alan Pardew’s man-management skills, but he always does well to see the positives in his players and communicate this through the media.

  13. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    January 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    “No doubt we’ve SWOOPED, then?”

    According to SSN on the telly, the deal has just been agreed. Shoot Craig David, divven’t shoot me if it’s wrang like!

  14. There’s a medical though.

    I’ve been keeping up with watching Cisse when I can since my story in September. His goals have tailed of a little since earlier in the season.

  15. Supermac. The trouble is, the very people who knock the long ball game played by Pardew are often the same ones that will moan like buggery if he changes the way we play and we start dropping down the league.

    I think most people would prefer to watch Barcelonaesque, passing football but a manager has to play to his tactical skills and what he thinks are the team’s abilities.

    I’m pretty sure even Alan Pardew would prefer to watch and manage a Barcelonaesque team but he clearly feels he can get the best results from his long ball tactics. And our league position bears that out.

  16. Hugh de Payen says:
    January 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    “I think most people would prefer to watch Barcelonaesque, passing football”

    From the stuff I’ve been getting from some people, they seem to think we HAVE been watching “Barcelonaesque, passing football”. As I pointed out above, they don’t seem to understand the difference.

  17. Hard to comment on HBA’s role in the squad when Cisse might be joining…so I’m going to suspend the comment I got halfway through writing.

  18. Papiss demba Rodney cisse is definitely at the training ground now.£7.5 million has been muted. Frieburg are bottom of bundes league. Apparently deal needs to be done by end of today as he flies out to Senegal to join demba ba in the ACN. FINGERS crossed.

  19. I’m gonna disagree, Hugh. I think we’ve gotten several results despite the longball tactics rather than because of them. Sometimes we’ve been straight up lucky. In the long run teams will find it relatively easier to set up to defend the long ball-QPR effectively neutralized it.

  20. prophet stephen c says:
    January 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    “Papiss demba Rodney cisse is definitely at the training ground now.£7.5 million has been muted.”

    I’ve written it up Steven. I would have had it up earlier but I’m sure baldyheed Craig, or someone on Sky Sports was saying £10 million at one stage, then it was changed to £7.5 million all of a sudden.

    One thing though, we’re gannin’ to be hit even harder by this Africa Cup of Nations now. The bastads are having another one next year as they want to start having it in odd number years instead of even ones.

  21. tunyc says: “Sometimes we’ve been straight up lucky.”

    Yes but at other times we’ve been unlucky.

    “In the long run teams will find it relatively easier to set up to defend the long ball.”

    Define ‘the long run’. We’ve had 21 games this season and done okay so far.