Shola Amoebi is certain Newcastle are in a better position to ward off relegation than they were in 2009. Chief sports writer Mark Douglas reports.
So after a brief exchange with Newcastle’s press officer, a compromise is reached.
Without mentioning the captain explicitly – or divulging any further sensitive information that might affect negotiations – Ameobi is asked to expand on the point there is a better feel in the dressing room despite what appears evidence to the contrary.
He duly – and eloquently – expands.
“It is important the people who are here now want to play for the club and I know when they pull on that black and white shirt, they have that feeling we are all in this together and that wasn't the case before.
“There are no players in this current squad who are contrary to that.
“When we lose games, I can see everyone in this squad is hurting.
“You can see it in their faces. It's tough because when you have had decent performances we have been in the changing room for about half an hour after the game discussing it because we care. It means so much to the players.
“Four years ago, it wasn't like that. Many of them knew they would be leaving at the end of the season and I think that is the difference.
“That is certainly the feeling I got back then. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if they did not want to win and it's important to state that but afterwards they'd be smiling again within a few minutes.
“This season, you can see every player in the dressing room is prepared to knuckle down.
“They all want to really help this club although it is going to be very difficult to do what we did last season – but we are all still together and right behind the manager.”
That unity has survived in spite of a bad January, when negativity seems to have stalked the club.
The news about Coloccini’s discontent followed Demba Ba’s expected departure, and when it seemed salvation would arrive in the form of France striker Loic Remy it was dashed by QPR’s lucrative intervention.
Is there a worry the negative momentum could follow the team on to the pitch?
Ameobi added: “I think that is what we have been suffering from.
“When you have not won in a few games, it is tough to get yourselves going especially in games when you go a goal down. You start thinking ‘oh no, here we go again,’ which is the natural state of mind.
“However, it is also important to say we have been giving everything we have.”
Ameobi is likely to return to the starting XI today to play as a supplementary striker in an orthodox 4-4-2.
Brushing aside Coloccini, relegation and the rest of the club’s worries, he is approaching the Reading game in the right frame of mind.
He said: “The manager says it is important we have a positive changing room, the attitude in there is right.
“It is all too easy to feel sorry for yourself at times in this game but nothing comes from that.
“The players who are here can only get ourselves out of the situation we are in and unless you have a go and stay positive and try and achieve that you are not going to do anything.”
If the accusation leveled at Fernando Torres is that his goals don’t usually mean that much, Shola Ameobi is the opposite of a flat track bully.
His 14 goals over the last three seasons have tended to be worth their weight in gold – and the last time Newcastle lost a match Ameobi scored in was November 8, 2009. That is a run of 22 games he’s scored in that Newcastle haven’t lost in. Here’s his recent record:
QPR (won 1-0). Three points: Fantastic strike from the substitute earned United their last win.
Club Brugge (drew 2-2). One point: One half of the Ameobi brothers show in Bruges that helped United claw back from two down.
Bordeaux (won 3-0). Three points: Set the ball rolling in a group win in the Europa League. Their best performance of the season.
Sunderland (drew 1-1). One point: Ameobi loves playing against Sunderland, and scored in injury time to deny Martin O’Neill’s men.
Tottenham (drew 2-2). One point: Four minutes remaining in a crucial game at St James’ Park and Ameobi scores a wonderful equaliser.