Siem de Jong arrived at Newcastle United last summer with a lot of expectation weighing on his shoulders, expected to provide much of the creativity and playmaking that had left with Yohan Cabaye some six months previously.
Sadly, the injury problems he’d experienced in his final season at Ajax, simply multiplied when he arrived on Tyneside – the Dutch midfielder managing only 147 minutes spread over four Premier League appearances, with home to Crystal Palace the only time he started a league game (he also started at Gillingham in the League Cup).
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Going into the pre season schedule, Siem de Jong said he was happy with his progress coming back from his injury-riddled season, but that he needed to add that extra something, that burst of energy to trouble the opposition.
De Jong has featured in all four friendlies so far:
First 45 minutes against Gateshead
First 72 against Club Atlas
First 69 v Sacramento Republic
Last 15 minutes against Portland Timbers (second team)
No dramatic visible signs of reaction to his previous injuries/ailments but along with other players, Steve McClaren restricted his time on the artificial pitch on Tuesday at Portland.
Whenever I have seen Newcastle fans putting up their ideal/fantasy team for the coming season – now including Mitrovic, Wijnaldum and Mbemba (just arrived in Newcastle), the name of Siem de Jong (pictured above doing his exercises when getting over his second collapsed lung) appears in every single one.
I don’t know whether it is partly because we now live in an age where people play Football Manager and similar simulation games where you pick players & formations and reality doesn’t interfere…but Siem de Jong has shown absolutely nothing in these four friendlies to suggest he will contribute very much at all in the near future.
Of course we all hope that he will be the effective goalscoring midfielder that he was in Holland but hoping is a bit different to actually looking the part.
It was always going to be a massive step up to the Premier League but there has to be real concerns that these injury problems of the last two seasons (collapsed lung x 2, groin injury, thigh injury x 2, hamstring x 3) have left him struggling to get back to the physical state that he was once in.
I think we (fans and especially Steve McClaren) have to guard against expecting too much of Siem de Jong, if necessary he has to be left out at the start of the season and allowed to ease his way in.
Hopefully these last three friendlies will see a rapid improvement but I just can’t see it.
We all know that Siem de Jong is a far better player than any of us have seen so far in black and white, he just needs our patience to be able to have the best chance of showing it, eventually.
I trust Steve McClaren far more than I ever did Alan Pardew, his record of playing players when they weren’t physically 100% was atrocious.
So kids, when you are picking your fantasy 11 for Newcastle United, remember life is often far harsher than your imagination.