Before you've even read the first line of this article, you're probably ready to slag me off. I can almost hear your fury right now. "Sammy Ameobi has been a breath of fresh air," you furiously type, "We need more players like him!" Well, dear reader, my mindset is slightly different.
When we signed Sammy I was pretty happy. He's an attacking player for one, of which we were in desperately short supply, but more importantly he's the brother of dear Shola, whom I was devastated we let go towards the end of last season. "Great," I thought, "Someone cut from the same cloth as the big man who can help lead our promotion charge, no problem." Alas, I think I was wrong.
One of my fears about Ameobi was confirmed in his first few games - he doesn't know what his best position is. Is he a wide man? Is he a No.10? Is he a supporting centre forward, someone to play alongside Gary Madine? I'm not sure, and I don't think he or Phil Parkinson are either. He loves coming deep to receive the ball and running at defenders from his own half, but then he can also pop up on the edge of the box and bang in a goal like he did in the FA Cup against the world’s biggest football club (AKA Sheffield United) - so where do we play him? What purpose does he serve? There are almost too many option, and I'm really confused about it.
My second, and arguably worst fear is shown in nearly every game: the guy has very little end product. Don't get me wrong - I love a player that can receive the ball, beat two or three defenders and cut inside... but then what? Shoot? Pass? Cross? Run down a blind alley and lose possession? The latter is applicable for the majority of Sammy's attacking ventures. It slows us down going forward because he dithers on the ball and chooses A (going it alone) rather than B (crossing/passing/shooting/anything but A).
We've seen a lot of players like Ameobi in recent years - maybe not quite as tall or gangly, but in terms of style, they're not in short supply; Wellington Silva being the most recent name that springs to mind. When we have one of these players, I expect big things. They're the types of players that make us difficult to cope with going forward, plus they take some of the weight off Zach Clough's shoulders in that respect. They're in the squad to score goals and make us a force to be reckoned with in the attacking third; not to give the ball away at vital moments.
Sammy Ameobi is a decent footballer, but there's a reason he's not in Newcastle's first team. There's also a reason he's been loaned out for a large portion of his career. He's dropped down a league to find football and has certainly found his level. I want him to stay once his loan deal expires, don't get me wrong - Parky obviously likes him. What I will say, though, is that we need more from him. We need him to complete that run with a great cross, or cut inside and hit the target (just like he did on Monday against Gillingham, and what a fucking goal that was) instead of over-complicating a move and eventually losing possession. If he's more intelligent with the ball he'll be so much better.
Sammy, if you're reading this, I hope we can be friends. You do everything right until that last killer decision, so instead of choosing A (which you usually do), start choosing B from now on. I promise you, things will only get better.