Alan Pardew hopes he can coax Papiss Cisse back into form as Chelsea have with Fernando Torres, but the Newcastle United manager is adamant Loic Remy is not the problem.
Senegal striker Cisse has never recaptured the form of a brilliant first half-season on Tyneside, when he scored 13 goals in his first 14 appearances.
His slow start to last season was blamed on being in the shadow of Demba Ba, while this term Remy has been prolific and Cisse profligate.
Cisse’s only goal this season came against Championship side Leeds United in the Capital One Cup, and his wastefulness in front of goal stopped them reaching the quarter-final on Wednesday, when Manchester City won 2-0 after extra-time.
Manager Pardew believes a moment of good fortune is all that is standing between the former Freiburg forward and a return to form.
“He’s not sulking, he’s not doing anything in the team to disrupt in terms of stopping making runs, he’s doing everything we want, he’s just not getting that break,” he lamented. “We’ve got to work with him and encourage him and hopefully give him an opportunity to get a goal.
“One thing he generates is love. Everybody I speak to is desperate for him to get that break and I think that’s what you need. As a striker sometimes you just need that break. I think that’s what he’s searching for at the moment.”
Chelsea’s £50m striker Torres has had a similarly long spell of poor form in front of goal, only really enjoying success in Europe. His goal against Manchester City last week was only his second in the Premier League in 2013 but the manner of his recent performances means he will travel to St James’ Park full of confidence for tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off. “Torres has worked hard in training trying to find form,” commented Pardew. “Sometimes when you search for it you don’t look your best. You try too hard or try to score from angles that aren’t on, I think Papiss is fighting that at the moment.
“He needs to find his way back to true form, when he scores we look a great side. We’ve got great faith in him, he’s such an honest player and he works hard. Sometimes it just needs to fall into place, a game or a goal can kick-start that.
“I’m pleased for Torres, I think he’s an asset for the Premier League.”
Cisse’s problems have been in stark contrast to Remy, who has five goals in seven appearances since joining on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
But whereas Cisse was asked to play wide to accommodate Ba, Remy has stepped aside for him.
“I don’t think there’s any correlation between Remy scoring and Papiss’ situation,” Pardew said. “Loic’s played a lot in that wide area and got goals. We know he can play through the middle which we’ve not given him many opportunities to do yet. I don’t think that affects Papiss too much.
“Like all strikers you get envious when you see another player scoring because you want to score yourself. Maybe there’s a little bit of that in there but hopefully that will fire him up.”
Another player yet to produce his best form this season – at least consistently – is Moussa Sissoko.
The midfielder was used in a wide position against Manchester City in midweek and gave glimpses of the form he showed after his January arrival.
“I still think he can be the player we saw against Chelsea last season but I understand why people are asking questions,” said Pardew. “He’s had a chequered start where he’s been fantastic in some games. I thought he was brilliant on Wednesday night. When you look at the modern Premier League, the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Spurs have such great power, height and athleticism.
“I would consider myself a big central midfielder when I played in the 90s. But now I’d be a small central midfielder. Moussa has all the ingredients of a modern midfielder, he’s powerful, he’s strong and he’s got that attacking ability.
“The only thing he’s getting wrong at the minute is getting used to the Premier League and different environments when teams drop off or put us under pressure. He needs that experience. He’s going to be a big player for this football club.
“Through thick and thin I’ll stick by him because I know it’s in there.”