I have been having some of these thoughts for a while.
I’m sure people will have fun picking them apart, before politely putting their own point across in the comments in reasoned, well-constructed comments…
Whatever the reaction, hopefully it brings a nice change of subject from the never ending takeover saga!
So without further ado – my unpopular Newcastle United opinions:
Joelinton is our most underrated player
I was thinking this before I saw him deck himself during that miss in the first half against Sheffield United. As soon as it happened I laughed, then remembered he was on my team, held my head in my hands and thought… “this is going to make it a little more difficult to justify my point!”
However, his general play was outstanding on Sunday. The effort he put in was second-to-none on that pitch, even after the initial setback. The hold-up play, the strength, the fight! He had Egan on puppet strings until he tapped out to go back to the showers for a cuddle and a cry.
But it wasn’t just his performance in this game. In my opinion he has been getting better and better. His finishing isn’t there (yet!… How many seasons in the Premier League did it take Rondon to get a decent goal return?) but he still has a vital role within that front three to bring out the best in Almiron and ASM.
I know for some people this is not enough. For £40m they will be waving the price tag up in the air like a scarf at Shearer’s testimonial and saying he should be more than that for the price… but I don’t think it is that simple.
It is worth considering that there was more strategy to the Joelinton deal than meets the eye. As a combined piece of business between him and ASM I think we are getting closer to a correct valuation. Both players are represented by the same agent. If we didn’t pay that price for Joelinton, would the agent have agreed to deal with us again for ASM? Possibly, but you can’t rule out the influence agents have in these situations. If you flip the price tags we paid for each player last summer then all of a sudden it looks a lot more respectable, even though the total price paid is the same, and with years of potential still ahead.
Combine that with the £20m for Almiron and I think we have an extremely exciting, energetic, strong, fast, and motivated strike force that I would happily say is worth £80m.
The one aspect that has impressed me the most about Joelinton though is his mental strength. He is an absolute b.stard to defenders, without losing control. He f.cks up. Then he gets up. I would rather have a player like that in my team than a self-entitled prima-donna who relies on talent to compensate for half-effort (cough cough, Bentaleb).
Lascelles is our most overrated player
There is a reason he has not yet been picked for England.
I feel strongly about this one. Really strongly! Lascelles physically has everything he needs to be one of the best central defenders in Europe. Everything except the one thing that a defender needs more than anything else… Good decision making.
He scares me every time he touches the ball in our own half. I just have no idea what is going on in his head – on the outside he displays a persona of calm and cool under pressure, then literally out of nowhere he will just brain fart his way into the Boumsong academy of “what the f.ck were you doing there mate?” His footwork is comparable to that of an old donkey and he is more of a ball watcher than your local Newton’s cradle enthusiast.
The problem as well is, whenever he makes a mistake, he always looks for someone else to blame. I have seen him argue with Dubravka, Fernandez and Schar amongst others when a chance is conceded due to his own bad positioning. Man-up. Own your mistakes. Get better.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see what others see in him to rate him so highly, but for me there is such a massive, obvious flaw in his game that I can’t believe it isn’t talked about more. Like I say, every physical attribute he needs to be an absolute beast with the decision making consistency of a magic 8-ball.
Perez has been a bigger miss for us than Rondon
Taking that intentionally provocative celebration out of the equation (it was a bit of an embarrassing move) – I think over the two seasons prior to his departure, despite how frustrating he could be at times, Perez was my favourite Newcastle player to watch. There, I said it!
With the ball he was by far and away our safest pair of feet. His hold up play and ball retention in a lot of games was often more effective than Rondon’s, even though he was playing in a slightly deeper role. Time and again I saw him in the last minutes of games where we would be clinging on to our 0-0 or 1-0, he would get the ball, dribble past an opposition player to get us out of the sh.t, often winning a foul/throw-in in the process to buy us extra time.
He was one the best natural finishers we have had at the club in recent history and I think if he was there he would still be a level up from Almiron or Joelinton as a more complete attacking player (“but wait, I thought you loved Joelinton!”).
The thing I think not enough people gave him credit for was his footballing intelligence. He just seemed to read the game and opposition players so well. When going past players, sometimes it would look like he was just gliding across the pitch – not in the same way as Ben Arfa used to, but in a more casual, hypnotic way. It was almost as if players were just happy to watch him go past, almost as if he had lulled them into some kind of trance. Potentially the same trance he has put me under come to think of it!
He was always able to find space and make something out of nothing, even though he often seemed isolated. When I watched him play, he would manage to fashion something positive out of a bad situation more often than not.
If you gave me the choice now between bringing back Perez or Rondon… It would be my little Spanish friend with waxy ears.
Bruce deserves a chance
I was going to title this one “We’re better off without Benitez” – but I thought firstly, that would cause such an emotional reaction no one would actually read the rest of the point before bashing me in the comments, and then secondly… I don’t actually know if that is true. BUT, what I do feel is true is that Bruce deserves a chance, and our support until it is proven he is not the man to take us forward.
Benitez’ organisation and forward-thinking was second to none. His future vision for the club and the infrastructure was truly professional and it is something I don’t think Bruce will ever be as good at, but I did see diva-like qualities in Rafa which I wasn’t a fan of and I do feel too often he knew just exactly what to say and when to say it.
I am not sure if he stayed at the club because of the fans, because of the money, or because he wanted to beat Mike Ashley. Undoubtedly a combination of all three but the measure of each is debatable. Yes he did stay with the club when we got relegated – but, on the flip, he was being paid a metric f.ck-ton of money! Money which if he did decide to leave – he would have lost.
But this is not about Benitez and the what-ifs can rumble on forever. This is about Bruce and from what I’ve seen… I am warming to the idea of keeping him on.
The style of play we were subjected to last season was dire for the most part – That system was drilled over and over so much I’m not surprised the team struggled at the start. They were playing the last manager’s style under a new manager who didn’t have the time or confidence to change things.
Over the course of the season there have been tweaks here and there and boy have we had our share of luck! But we are seeing more substantial changes in the last few games which have offered some promising results (albeit the most part of that was against teams with 10 players). Who knows how things will continue to progress given more time. Bruce is a nice guy. A really nice guy. And I would be happy for him to be the face of our club. Does he have the history to suggest it will be a success? No. Does he deserve the chance? I think so.
He wants to be at this club. He wants players who want to be at this club. This isn’t about power, or money, or politics. This is about wanting to do something special with a club he loves. Regardless of who the owners are, I try not to feel entitled enough to just think we deserve to be a top club with a top manager. I would be more than happy with being a good club with a good manager.
So there you have it. I may not have been able to convince many of you. Neither am I necessarily trying to. These are just my thoughts on some of the things that I think others might see differently.
See you in the comments!