Should these Newcastle players pay for their sins?
Two of the biggest Newcastle pretenders are two of the more likely players to leave the club in the summer – but should Rafa let them?
The two men (I use that word loosely) in question are Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum, with the former actively saying he wants to leave the club and the latter being very non-committal about his future – but wanting to let everyone know he was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League last season according to…himself.
While the Dutchman may think that, and his initial performances in black and white suggested he could be, a fading home form and lack of any form at all away from St James Park showed he was nothing but a pretender, and when the pressure was on, Gini was nowhere to be seen.
What was startling was his display on the final day against Tottenham. With Newcastle already relegated, Wijnaldum gave a vintage midfield performance and helped himself to two goals. When the pressure was off Newcastle, with their fate sealed, Wijnaldum stepped up to the plate and showed why we had paid almost £15 million for him.
Anything to impress any potential suitors, eh? He even showed them his turn off pace as he raced away to grab the ball and demand to take the penalty, probably the fastest he has ever moved in a Newcastle shirt.
Whilst playing for his country, Wijnaldum scored two goals in two games as Netherlands prepared for a summer off after failing to qualify for Euro 2016. Once again, Wijnaldum stepped up when the pressure was off.
Unlike Gini, Sissoko was not a passenger in the closing month of the season and actually gave some of his best performances for Benitez. But his constant angling for a move to a Champions League club and his visible lack of effort at times, means that no one will be crying when the other pretender inevitably leaves this summer.
But will he and Wijnaldum actually leave? United have made it clear they do not have to sell, and Benitez is a stubborn customer who may force the two Newcastle players to stay against their will.
Would fans rather see these two stay and help get Newcastle out of the mess that they played a part in creating, or would we rather see them as far away from Rafa’s side as possible and exit Newcastle, ensuring that they cannot tarnish the club’s reputation any more.
Sissoko may not be able to see himself playing in the Championship, and neither can I, but I can’t even see him playing in League One due to a distinct lack of ability and desire.
While some fans sang for Sissoko and Wijnaldum on the final day, one good performance in a zero pressure game is not enough to deserve the praise of 50,000 Geordies.
As much as I would like to see the two forced to stay and pay for their sins, a bigger part of me wants to never see them grace the black and white shirts again.
You can follow James on Twitter @jrutherford11