Newcastle star looks a different player after responding to Rafa Benitez threats
Dwight Gayle walked away with a hat-trick and the match ball but there was only one contender for man of the match today.
Step forward Mohamed Diame.
It was seen as quite a coup when Rafa Benitez persuaded Mohamed Diame to stay in the Championship rather than play Premier League football again.
All of his previous football in England had been in the top tier until last season, when his 10 goals from midfield were instrumental in lifting Hull City into the Premier League.
However, his form has been rotten, with not one Championship goal and I struggle to remember even him creating a chance.
Until today that is.
It was like Rafa had drifted in a new Number 15 and forgot to mention it.
Suddenly today, Mohamed Diame was the complete player. Yes, I’m not kidding.
He was drifting past Birmingham defenders with ease, nutmegging opponents, arrogant flicks with the outside of his boot…as well as intelligent running both with and without the ball, constantly putting the opposition under pressure, whether in possession or not.
The big fat cherry on top of today’s delicious cake, was that Mohamed Diame also had loads of end product. Nowhere was this better illustrated than on the crucial opening goal, going past his man like he wasn’t there and then delivering a quite magnificent cross that was so perfect it just eluded Gayle’s marker and left the Newcastle forward with a header that was all but impossible to miss.
So why the transformation after over four months of mediocrity?
Well Rafa Benitez had this to say in the run-up to the Birmingham match…
“We are looking for players in a certain position.
“I have analysed with the staff and we can manage if we don’t find the right player – but obviously we will try to improve the squad.”
The consensus amongst the vast majority of Newcastle fans was that this had to be the role in behind Dwight Gayle.
Rafa Benitez has made clear he won’t play two out and out strikers and the bottom line is that Diame and Perez just haven’t delivered in that role this season.
So it doesn’t take a genius to see Rafa taking Mohamed Diame aside this week and pointing out that there are only a few weeks before the transfer window opens and a handful of games to change the Manager’s mind, in terms of whether or not to bring in a new partner for the Championship’s top scorer.
Today wasn’t a bad start for Mohamed Diame but he needs to follow that up at Wigan and beyond.
After watching him perform today, I can honestly say I can’t wait to see what he can deliver on Wednesday night – never thought I’d be saying that after what we’d seen this season before Birmingham visited.
Here are the stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 4 Birmingham 0
Newcastle: Gayle 18, 24, 77 Gouffran 47
Possession was Birmingham 38% Newcastle 62%
Total shots were Birmingham 5 Newcastle 20
Shots on target were Birmingham 2 Newcastle 10
Corners were Birmingham 1 Newcastle 7
Newcastle starting 11:
Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Hayden (Lazaar 82), Shelvey, Ritchie, Gouffran (Atsu 72), Diame, Gayle (Mitrovic 79)
Sels, Mbemba, Yedlin, Tiote
Referee: Andy Davies
Crowd: 52,145 (Birmingham 3,184)
(Birmingham boss Gary Rowett waves the white flag after watching his team being taken apart – read it HERE)
(To read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the match go HERE)
(To see the interactive player ratings and to add your own go HERE)
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