Whilst Newcastle United’s hopes still hang by a very small thread, for Siem de Jong the last fortnight has proved a massive relief.
Seeing Steve McClaren walk out of the door must at last have put a smile on the former Ajax skipper’s face after so few chances under the now out of work Head Coach.
Siem de Jong was brought on as a sub 11 times under McClaren but given only three starts in the Premier League. Ironically, Newcastle lost none of those games he started, winning against Spurs and Liverpool, then drawing against Villa.
His last action under Steve McClaren was in the 3-3 draw against Manchester United, from the bench as usual, before an eye injury interrupted his season and then McClaren totally freezing Siem de Jong out for what proved to be his final game against Bournemouth.
With his brother Luuk (scored last night against France) in top form for both club and country, it was about time Siem de Jong had a turn of fortune.
Rafa Benitez walked through the door and gave the midfielder 20 minutes against Leicester and then the final half hour against Sunderland – the game improving much for the better once de Jong was introduced.
His calm play and measured quick passing must now give him a possible chance of starting at Norwich, especially considering how feeble the other options have been in recent times.
It would be a big move but with Wijnaldum scoring zero goals and looking so woeful away from home, swapping the two Dutch players for next Saturday’s match must play at least some part in Rafa Benitez’ thoughts.
Whatever happens next weekend, Siem de Jong has no doubts about what the change of Head Coach/Manager has meant for him:
“I think it’s good for me.
“I had just came back from a strange injury on the eye but I’m happy to be back in the team.
“The manager talks to me about what he wants and that’s good – I think he is doing well and gets the team playing the way he wants.
“It’s difficult when you come in mid-season – if you have a pre-season you have more time to put in the way you want to play as a manager.
“Now we need to get ready for the next game and during the two weeks before that next game (Norwich – 2 April) he will try to influence the team more.”