Signing 12 new players in the summer obviously meant that Rafa Benitez couldn’t/wouldn’t be playing them all in every match.
Some were ready to hit the ground running, whilst others were always going to take a little more time to get up to speed.
Two of the more interesting summer signings were Jesus Gamez and Achraf Lazaar, brought into the Championship from Spain and Italy respectively.
Injuries have played their part as well but even without those, neither of them have made a start in the Championship as yet.
Rafa Benitez has already previously said that he was giving Gamez time to adapt and now Achraf Lazaar has said that he accepts that this is what he has needed as well.
It is ridiculous the number of players who have arrived from abroad with decent reputations in the past and then have been thrown straight into the Newcastle team, usually in high pressure situations, and expected to perform instantly. No wonder we have seen so many of these signings fail.
Rafa Benitez of course has had the benefit of a far bigger squad than previous managers (and head coaches…) were allowed, meaning he has breathing space when it comes to integrating new signings.
However, the biggest factor in giving the United boss leeway, is by winning football matches. Whilst fans/pundits have still wondered whether Newcastle would be better with the likes of Jesus Gamez and/or Achraf Lazaar in the team, it hasn’t been accompanied by the hysteria we have had in the past when people were questioning the Pardew, Carver or McClaren team selections.
The left-back position has been a problem one for years at St James Park and whilst Paul Dummett is managing to hold his own in the Championship, I don’t think anybody is seeing him as the answer if Newcastle get promoted.
In an ideal world I’m guessing Newcastle fans would like to see a gradual seamless progression this season, with at some point Achraf Lazaar making the position his own and showing he has now got the tools to deal with defending in the Championship and potentially the Premier League.
Achraf Lazaar speaking to the Chronicle:
“In my career, I have played on the left, either as left-back or a wing-back or a winger, I could play high on the left in a 3-5-2 or as a normal left-back in a back four.
“If we play 4-4-2 I can also play well as a left midfielder – the left side of the pitch has my name on it.
“I have not played but I am ready to move forward and the real answer to this question is not difficult. The manager has looked at all players and wants them in top condition.
“You have to adapt first and then stay in good condition and for me, I came into a new country with a new language and a new lifestyle.
“Football is not different, it is the same game in every country but I’ve had to adapt to the life around me.
“The reason I have this number (7) is because my favourite numbers were 7, 3 or 17.
“When I signed for Newcastle the number 3 shirt was taken by Paul Dummett, then I looked what was left – myself and Christian Atsu picked but Atsu liked 7 too.
“The manager told us to have a penalty shoot-out to decide who got 7..I love him but I had to say it’s my number!”