As we've managed to secure another season in the Premier League, it's time to start dissecting some of the highs and lows of the season just ended. One of those stories was the curious case of Sylvain Marveaux. -ed
It seems Sylvain Marveaux can now be added to the long list of Newcastle players who came into the club with a fair amount of promise, only to slowly fade away into a forgotten memory of what could have been.
Sylvain has been on loan at Guingamp this season, and crossed paths recently with another former Magpie - Yohan Cabaye. After PSG had finished mauling Guingamp 6-0 en route to winning Ligue 1, the two former teammates were caught chatting on camera by French broadcaster Canal+ (who have a track record with this sort of thing).
There was no mention of John Carver's coaching ability or reminiscing about Colo's parties, but Marveaux was captured saying:
"I miss Newcastle, it was good, but you know I was blacklisted."
Blacklisted. Perhaps a strong choice of phrasing - maybe something was lost in translation, maybe not. But it's certainly believable. It's happened before.
Joey Barton was frozen out of the squad and sold for nothing after fighting Mike Ashley over player bonuses. Hatem Ben Arfa ran afoul of Pardew one too many times and was told his Newcastle career was over. And of course, the despicable incident of Jonas Gutierrez being told to leave the club after being diagnosed with cancer.
Maybe something happened behind the scenes with Marveaux that we're unaware of. But from a playing perspective, is it worth phasing out Marveaux despite him having a year remaining on his contract?
Under the Pardew regime, Marveaux fell under the umbrella of 'creative players that Alan doesn't know how to utilize'. Like Ben Arfa and Cabella, Marveaux was a forward-thinking midfielder who was at his best when he was on the ball in the final third. In the 2012/13 season, Sylvain led Newcastle in assists with six - three times as many as everyone's favorite dashing French midfielder, Yohan Cabaye. Marveaux used his playing time efficiently, with those six assists coming in just 24 appearances (10 starts).
But despite that productivity, Pardew couldn't find a consistent place for Marveaux in the side. This was understandable, as Sylvain did have a habit of disappearing from games and not working hard defensively. And when the players Marveaux would be replacing are Sissoko, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, or an in-form Gouffran (he scored the second-most goals for Newcastle in 2013/14 with 7, don't you forget), it's hard to make a case to have Marveaux playing regularly.
But what about this season? Surely in fixtures where Sammy Ameobi and Gabriel Obertan were starting on the wings, Marveaux would have been a better option. Or at least an alternative off the bench. In matches where Newcastle aren't being overrun by superior attacking sides (most games), Newcastle tend to lack a final ball to break down organized defenses. Marveaux? Anybody? No? Marveaux?
It remains to be seen if Sylvain Marveaux will be wearing black and white next season. Personally, I would retain him. Depth is important, and having Marveaux come on to play behind the striker would fill me with a bit more confidence than throwing on Adam Armstrong - a raw 17-year-old. But then again, I'm not the best manager in the Premier League. I'm not John Carver.