When both Newcastle and Sunderland were initially linked with Gini Wijnaldum, there were claims that the mackems had the upper hand because of the player’s past connection with Dick Advocaat.
That proved meaningless when it came to the stylish midfielder choosing which club was right for him, though Dick Advocaat has already played a pivotal role in Wijnaldum’s short career so far.
At the age of 20 the Dutch international made his first big move from Feyenoord to PSV in summer 2011.
However, rather than his ideal central position, new manager Fred Rutten persisted in playing Wijnaldum on the wing. He was still very good but just not as effective, in terms of both goals and creating chances.
In his final season at Feyenoord, the now Newcastle midfielder scored 14 league goals but when he loved to PSV and was played out on the wing that dropped to 9, only for the next two full seasons (2013/14 was almost totally wiped out by a back injury) to see him bounce back to score 14 league goals in each (2012/13 and 2014/15).
The big factor was Fred Rutten being sacked in March 2012 and replaced by….Dick Advocaat.
The now Sunderland manager instantly restored Wijnaldum to central midfield and he was back at his productive best in terms of scoring and creating goals. Advocaat only stayed one season before deciding to ‘retire’ but Wijnaldum ha never looked back.
Now the Newcastle player has reiterated where Steve McClaren has to play him, if the Head Coach and the supporters are to see the very best return from him.
“That (central midfield/number 10) is my natural position, in Holland I had two years as a winger but that is not my best position.
“If you want to use my qualities the best, then I must play in the midfield, in a position where I can make goals, because that is a quality of mine.”
Trained to play football:
“I can create more chances in the middle of midfield than if I play on the right side of midfield and that is why I feel more comfortable playing there.
“We get trained to play football (in Holland) and almost every team in the Dutch Eredivisie plays football, so to be working with him as my coach makes it more comfortable for me.”
Long ball football:
“The (Newcastle) players said that last year we played a long ball almost every time, so it is also new for the players who were here already but it is expected for the Dutch players, it’s good because that’s how we play in Holland.”
“We have two more weeks to train on the things that haven’t gone well and I think we’re going to be ready.”