Simon Campbell from the true faith podcast delivers a withering assessment of those labelling our former Senegalese International ‘lazy’.

“Slow”, “Lazy”, “Lethargic”, “Worse than Sissoko”, “Shite”.

A few of the descriptors regularly used for our £4.5m CHAMPIONSHIP signing this season, both in the stadium, and across the madness that can be NUFC social media.

I’ll start by clarifying that Mo Diamé has by no means set the championship alight this season. 6 goals from 41 in all competitions doesn’t even compare to his 10 from 45 in Hull’s promotion last season. Mo Diamé has had nothing more than a decent season at the biggest clubs he’s ever played for, making 37 league appearances in a title winning side. That’s more games than Isaac Hayden has played this season. Just saying. So why the significant amount of aversion to a bloke who’s put as much of a shift in as one of our best this season?

Let’s begin with the term “lazy”. Mo Diamé has spent the majority of the season in the number 10 position of Rafa’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Rafa himself has frequently said that this is the most difficult position to play in his team. It requires a wide range of skills, the most obvious of which is a higher level of fitness and work rate than anybody else on the pitch. Not the sort of position the best manager in the world would elect to play his ‘laziest’ player.

In fact, the guy visibly covers more ground than anyone else on the pitch, which has been evident in how often he’s been taken off with 15 minutes to go, completely done in. Sometimes he has lacked quality. Sometimes he has lost the ball with a loose pass or touch, but the lad is not lazy. In fact Rafa has been full of praise for his summer signing, particularly his work rate and positional sense. He wasn’t brought here to beat players and/or score loads of goals. We have players for that. Mo Diamé was signed to play the exact role he has played and he’s done it perfectly well.
“Worse than Sissoko”

A mental comparison, of course he bloody is. Moussa Sissoko is an really talented footballer. That didn’t always show when he was here but the guy is a France international, whether you rate him or not. Pre-Rafa, Sissoko played out on the right more often than not. He was very good there but by the time McClaren was here he was our only attacking outlet and we were the easiest team in the country to defend against. Two men on Sissoko and wait for the crowd to get angry; easy. When Rafa arrived, he had the luxury of a proper winger in Townsend and immediately recognized the value of his self titled “most important player” (read it up), whom he moved into the center. He was our best player and we nearly stayed up but for the lack of a proper striker. Rafa knows best.

In Comparison Momo Diamé is a 29 year old who’s spent his career in English football fighting relegation’s with Wigan, West Ham and Hull. He’s not in the same league as Sissoko in terms of ability and whilst they play a similar position, it’s just not a fair comparison. Sissoko went for over £30 million!  Mp Diame didn’t.

Sissoko also used to get called lazy. So did Shola Ameobi. So did Demba Ba before he hit form for NUFC. A certain Serbian striker, who does actually spend much of the game jogging round nowhere near where he’s supposed to be, is spared this label however. The sad truth is that there is some LAZY stereotyping going on that a small section of our support is quick to revert to when judging a player. We’re better than that and if in doubt we should all just listen to Rafa. The players he puts his faith in, by definition, are obviously not lazy. They are the opposite. They do exactly what they are told to do by the manager, carry out their role in the team and they win football matches.

Mo Diamé has been part of many, many Newcastle wins this season. That’s because he follows instructions and does the job he has been assigned by Rafa. He’s not that fast and he’s not that skillful. He does though have the heart and the engine to play the position he’s been given. He keeps going and eventually, when things come off, he’s been part of some excellent and crucial goals. He also got Goal of the Season at Brighton with a fantastic back heal into the top corner. We’ll never forget that one. In fact, if Diamé doesn’t kick another ball for Newcastle United (quite likely) I will have nothing but fond memories and good things to say about his time here. He’s played his part in the fairy tale that’s just beginning under Rafa Benitez.

Simon Campbell

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