After hardly troubling the judges for over three months, Mohamed Diame is suddenly looking Newcastle’s most effective player.
There had been signs in the League Cup match at Hull (and a goal) that he was waking up but Diame’s contribution and end product has been on a totally different level these past two matches.
Going into the Birmingham game, Rafa Benitez said he was definitely targeting one position in the January transfer window and the general assumption was that this was the role behind Dwight Gayle, where Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez had totally failed to impress.
It is an unknown whether Rafa also had a direct word in the midfielder’s ear that he would be out of the team unless he showed in December he deserved a place. However, what we have seen against Birmingham and Wigan suggests that something drastic has happened to bring about the change in fortunes.
The skill, touches, running and crossing were superb on Saturday and the driving run from the halfway line for last night’s crucial opening goal, was quite simply excellent.
With flair/creative players they are never going to perform every match, or else they wouldn’t be playing in the Championship. However, the over-reliance on Shelvey and Gayle had become a handicap, especially with Ritchie not hitting the heights of the earlier games.
So the likes of Mohamed Diame and potentially Christian Atsu stepping up to the plate, brings a welcome threat from elsewhere, that should ensure the promotion bandwagon stays on track.
Mohamed Diame speaking to the official club website:
“I’m always happy to score goals and it was important to show that I’m an important player for the Newcastle team, give back the confidence that the manager has shown in me.
“It’s important and for me it’s good for my confidence as well. Now, I’m looking forward to the next one. I feel my legs are back, the confidence is coming back as well slowly, now it’s just about keeping on working and getting better every game.
“I scored against Hull, then Wigan, it would be nice if we could play against West Ham now…!
“It was a good performance in a difficult game, but we’ve done it. I thought the team worked hard, even when Wigan put us under a bit of pressure, we kept confident and looked for the second goal.
“Christian did well to bring his legs into the game for us and he did well to get the second goal.
“When he came on he gave us runs in behind the defenders and that helped us all, it helped the team. His finish was a great one as well, so that was good for the team and now we just need to keep going.
“It doesn’t matter if you play home or away, we know that if we want to get promoted we need to go for the win every single game.
“For Wigan, I really wish that they will stay in this league, because I like this club.”
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)
(To watch the two very good Newcastle goals go HERE)
(To view our interactive player ratings and add your own go HERE)