Much has been commented on his goals-to-games ratio. It certainly does make him a more than effective back-up for Fernando Torres. But it seems that his work on the pitch often goes underestimated. I thought he played admirably against Bolton last week. I know he missed a sitter in the second-half, and was pilloried for it by the Liverpool fans.
One thing I find appealing about N’Gog is how he runs at opposition players. Usually we seem to run up to a defender, pass the ball backwards/square or expect someone to make a run around the outside. But N’Gog and perhaps Albert Riera as well are the only people who actually take on players and try dribbling on a regular basis. Of course sometimes they get dispossessed and look stupid, but on occasion they get by the player and all of a sudden we have an attacking opportunity. Those moments get defenders a bit edgy when they see him running at them. Another thing that often goes unnoticed is that he has very good close-control. There was a moment in the first-half today when he chested down a long-ball and turned the defender in one movement and went on an agile run down the left-hand side of the Liverpool flank. His final ball was poor but that was a sign of a very gifted footballer.
Particularly today, he was impressive. He needed to be counted on once we went down to 10-men to hold the ball up, draw fouls, and put the Everton defence on the back-foot. He did all of that to great acclaim from the home crowd, and that standing-ovation was fully deserved. It was perhaps something that Fernando Torres has been accused of not doing enough this season. The Frenchman/Cameroonian really did harry the smurfs when they had possession at the back, and in particular Yobo, had a tough time in keeping hold of him. They marked him quite tightly, which is to be expected when we play with only one man up-front but his turning ability and that close control I eluded to earlier came into play as he kept skipping away from them.
I feel the fans are quick to lump him in with Rafa’s ‘bad signings list,’ which is unfair on the lad (and the manager) to say the least. If he was at Arsenal people would be falling over themselves to heap praise on Wenger for cherry-picking another French youngster, and would be making every excuse imaginable if, for whatever reason, he wasn’t delivering the goods.
Either way, if you think that he isn’t up to it, or he can be something useful in the future, you have to agree that at the age of 20, the guy deserves some more time to show what he really can do. We’ve seen glimpses, and those glimpses are becoming a little bit more common with every appearance he gets which is a promising sign. A good workman-like performance against the smurfs show that he has the heart and the drive to really give in a shift if the team are under the cosh. I heard that he wants to play international football for Cameroon. Certainly he has a better chance of getting into the Cameroon side than he has of getting into the French national side (at this age anyway). Perhaps him getting an international call-up could do him some more good. After all, it can’t hurt having to play in the same time and maybe in the same strike-partnership as Samuel Eto’o can it? Anyway, that is in the future for the lad, and for now we could use some more of those performances like the one he put in today in the push for 4th-place and in Europe. Rest assured that if/when Fernando Torres gets injured again we know that we have someone who can can match him for pace and perhaps close-control. And the youngster is no mug when it comes to hitting the back of the net either.