Vurnon Anita started Tuesday’s friendly at Southend and after a first half of spirited defending by the home side, it was the Dutch midfielder who broke the deadlock with an excellent strike from outside the box.
One of the local newspapers has described this as ‘proof of Vurnon Anita’s quality’.
Well if the subject is scoring goals, then Vurnon hasn’t proved his quality much in his four years at St James Park.
With two league goals in 106 league appearances for Newcastle, the midfielder (sometimes defender) has contributed on average half a goal per season, whilst to be honest I can’t really remember that many/any assists either.
Fans appear split down the middle on Vurnon Anita, talking either about what he does do, or alternatively what he doesn’t do.
After last season ended, Newcastle fans were asked by The Mag to name 10 outfield players they wanted to stay for the coming season. Vurnon Anita was 11th when the votes were counted, with 52% of fans wanting to keep him – placing Anita between 10th place Jack Colback (53%) and 12th placed Kevin Mbabu (46%).
As for what he does contribute, the former Ajax player is decent at retaining the ball, passing short distances and keeping the ball moving.
He did look good in a few games at right-back in Daryl Janmaat’s absence towards the end of last season but pre-season suggests it will be midfield where Anita gets games, if he is part of Rafa’s plans.
With only four players (including Janmaat at right-back) getting more minutes in the friendlies so far than Vurnon’s 238, it does look as though Rafa Benitez wants him around.
However, one thing that always puzzles me when Vurnon Anita and/or Rafa Benitez are interviewed, as to what is happening contract wise with the player, as he only has 11 months left on his current deal.
It would appear strange that the club would allow a contract to wind down and alow a player to leave for nothing, when almost £7m was laid out for him, plus what will be five years of sizeable wages by June 2017.
I can’t say I am massively bothered either way, if Vurnon Anita goes and makes way for another potential Rafa signing I won’t leave any sleep, but if he stays I think he can do a job.
What I think has to happen though, is that all of the players in the squad have to take responsibility for adding goals, something that has been sadly lacking from Anita and many others in recent years.
Whilst as one of a front six when/if playing in midfield, Vurnon has to also contribute when it comes to creating chances/goals, it isn’t ok if he continues what he has done for most of these past four seasons and settles for an easy ball the vast majority of the time, which gets the team nowhere fast.
Vurnon Anita talking about the upcoming season:
“I feel like it is in me to play in multiple positions, which enables me to be able to fill in where I can and do my best to try to help the team.
“I was able to do that with a goal at Southend and I also think I produced a good performance. It is up to me now to keep on going and help the team, to show everybody what I can do.
“We all know the Championship is a difficult league with a lot of matches, so it is important to have people in the squad who can fill in in a number of different positions.
“I think I am one of those people and hopefully that will help. I haven’t played in goal yet, but maybe if I have to play in goal, I will do that too.
“I have always felt comfortable in lots of different roles and hopefully the manager knows that wherever he asks me to play, I will always do my best and give my all. I want to show everybody what I can do.
“There is a very positive mood at the moment and we just have to make sure that lasts. It is good for the team at the moment to have everybody behind us.
“That gives us a boost to go into the league and hopefully we will be able to make a strong start and scare everybody a bit.
“We want to do our best and show everybody what we can do. If we do that, then we know we can win the league.”