He's... he's right behind me, isn't he? - Matthew Lewis
Despite Cheik Tiote's first international goal, the Ivory Coast have crashed out of the ACoN, meaning Cheik will be back on Tyneside soon.
If this were an Ivory Coast blog, the narrative of this would likely be one discussing "Golden Generations" and the frequent failure of such eras for certain countries (see Portugal, for instance) to capitalize upon their not negligible talent. It is not, so I make passing reference and move on - the good news for Newcastle (and perhaps for Tiote himself) is that he will be returning to the club forthwith and will be available to play against Tottenham Hotspur on February 9.
With the mercurial ascendance of Moussa Sissoko at the heart of the Newcastle midfield, the heartbreak of crashing out of the Cup of Nations allows Tiote to return and stake a claim to a position that prior to his departure would have been written in pen on Alan Pardew's squad sheet. Since Sissoko's arrival, James Perch has surpassed Vurnon Anita for the spot that Tiote will be hoping to return to. Perch has played a much more Tiote-style role than Tiote himself has done this year, but a return with pure defensive responsibility may just be the tonic that the Ivorian needs to cure his club-level performance ills. Sissoko's ability to press forward effectively and create alongside Yohan Cabaye could free Cheik from feeling like he needs to press forward to do the same and allow him to do what Cheik Tiote do - breaking up play and starting counter-attacks.
At this point, there are those who would rumble that Tiote not be returned directly to the lineup. I don't think that we're at that point just yet although he has struggled for the club at times...but it is a nice feeling to know that if he continues to struggle, James Perch has proven himself to be quite capable within the current lineup to do the things that will allow his teammates to succeed, and that is comforting.
Do you put Cheik Tiote immediately back in the lineup for Tottenham?
Yes (93 votes)
No (46 votes)
139 total votes