Graham - Let's Do It Zoggy Style!
After years of Seaham Hall sightings and close shaves, Charlie Insomnia looks like he has half a chance of coming to the brighter, more attractive side of the North East eventually.
After being released by Aston Villa following their relegation, he's available on a free transfer, apparently looking to showcase his talents in the hope of remaining in the top league. Many of us will probably be against the idea of an alleged mercenary on a decent wedge, but let's not forget that a few seasons ago, most of us were praying Steve Bruce would splash out some of the Jordan Henderson money on the man who can't get no sleep, as far as Joe Kinnear is aware.
It's no secret that Big Sam was chasing a winger to add some width to the side - Fabio Borini was in and out of the team under Big Sam until the end of the campaign, whilst Borini himself also believes he is more of a centre forward. N'Zogbia would most definitely add width, and whilst he may not be a starter every week he is definitely an experienced option from the bench who, on his day, has a bit of magic in his locker.
He joined Aston Villa five years ago for a fee of £9.5m, much to the dismay of many Lads fans, who felt he was a perfect fit for us at the time. He has scored a paltry five goals for relegated Villa in that time and rather unsurprisingly is seen by their fans as a complete failure and flop. The last two years he has barely featured for an absolutely woeful Villa and was quite rightly told to find another club when their relegation was rubber stamped in a defeat to Manchester United.
So...let's steer clear, right? Well...perhaps, perhaps not. Before his big money move he had been Wigan's star player and was also excellent for those lot up the road after being plucked from Le Havre by Sir Bobby Robson. At Wigan he scored 18 goals in 83 games, a total of near 20% of games he played, he scored. Not bad for a winger in a side that defended more than it attacked and only escaped relegation when they hit form in March. Sound familiar?
He also contributed an impressive number of assists while he was there too, infact in one game, against Hull City, he contributed four assists and a goal. Whilst at Newcastle he was courted by Tottenham for a long period of time before his move to Wigan, and because of that form he earned two caps for his country.
But that's all in the past isn't it? Well yes, yes it is, but the reason I think N'Zogbia might be worth the hotel fee at Seaham Hall over the next week is for one reason - Sam Allardyce.
Over the years, at Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham, he has continuously bought once highly sought after players in their late twenties to early thirties and squeezed them like a sponge to eek out the last bits of passion and talent they have. The list is endless, give or take one or two that didn't work out. Ivan Campo, Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Gael Givet - all players who had lost their way and looked to be sleepwalking into retirement before Big Sam grabbed them, probably by the neck, giving them a chance end their career on a high or use the club as a stepping stone to greater things.
Finally aswell - let's be honest - we aren't bad as a starting eleven, but in that annoying March period when our new boys tired and we had to turn to fresh legs, the lack of options within our squad often cost us points. Charles N'Zogbia on a free, on the wing for the last twenty minutes of games, is miles more likely to fashion a goal than Dame N'Doye is to hit a barn door with a banjo.
So whilst it won't set many pulses racing - people will bemoan it's five years to late or simply the boy isn't good enough - it's worth noting that, with Sam Allardyce, he might find life in the old Zog yet.
Gav - Zog On!
Look, I don't know Charles N'Zogbia personally, but if you believe anything that you read about the bloke you'd like to hope that Sunderland will steer well clear of him, regardless of the ability that he may well still possess after years in the doldrums at Villa Park.
I think it says alot about the character of a footballer when they're quite happy to sit on their arse and collect a nice fat pay packet until their contract runs down, and though you can hardly blame him for taking the easy option I feel that a certain type of human being has to be at the forefront of Sam Allardyce's mind when recruiting players this summer, and you have to question just how much hunger N'Zogbia truly has to remain at the top of the English game.
I could be totally wrong here - we really should know not to judge before seeing what a player has to offer, what after seeing the way that the Yann M'Vila deal panned out, and it could be that N'Zogbia is hungry to prove himself and show that he's a changed man and that he still can offer something to a club like ours.
But still... I'm not keen.
The obvious positives are that he's an experienced player who has more than proven himself at this level, with the added bonus that he's going to cost nothing in terms of transfer money. But, again, you cannot ignore that two or three managers at Aston Villa chose to overlook him - and they were absolutely shocking last season.
So, yeah... there is no harm in taking a look at him in training, but I suspect this might be a case of 'thanks, but no thanks'. You just cannot look past the issues that N'Zogbia has had with attitude over the course of his career, not just at Aston Villa. Sunderland, going forward, need players that not only possess immense quality but also graft their nuts off. Though I don't like to judge a book by its cover, I just have no faith in N'Zogbia becoming a changed character, not when his awful discipline has been the forefront of every conversation ever had about him as opposed to how he's such a fantastic footballer.
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