Dwight Gayle and Glenn Murray have a number of things in common.
The two strikers are currently fighting it out for promotion with Newcastle & Brighton respectively and whilst the south coast team may have edged two points ahead in that race, the Magpies striker is four ahead (20 v 15) when it comes to who will be top scorer in the Championship. Leeds forward Chris Wood now splitting the pair with 16 goals at the minute.
Both Murray and Gayle found their paths also crossed at Crystal Palace, for two seasons they were together at Selhurst Park, though that included a loan spell at Reading for Murray for half a season.
They kind of had parallel careers at Palace as well, strikers who found themselves more on the bench than getting a chance to impress in the Premier League, maybe the feeling being that they were great goal scorers in the Championship but possibly not top league material.
Despite this, in terms of goals to starts, both did pretty well from limited opportunities. Dwight Gayle scoring 12 Premier League goals despite starting only 27 matches, whilst Glenn Murray started 14 and scored eight – both though made more appearances from the bench than starting elevens for Palace in the top tier.
One other distinction the two of them share, is that Alan Pardew sold them both, Murray to Bournemouth in summer 2015 and Gayle to Newcastle a year later.
So Glenn Murray should have a pretty good handle on Dwight Gayle and when asked about him on Sky Sports, Murray says that his former teammate will thrive if getting back into the Premier League but that being played as a single striker didn’t suit him at the top level.
He says the Newcastle number nine is a great finisher with his head and both feet, which has been proved with 20 goals already this season.
At Championship level, playing on his own up front has proved no hindrance, despite not having the greatest support from the likes of Perez and Diame in more withdrawn roles.
If/when Newcastle get promoted, it will be interesting to see how Rafa Benitez approaches it.
It looks clear to me that we will need at least one more quality striker to be brought in who is at least as good as Dwight Gayle but who can maybe play in a number of roles, either alongside Gayle or instead of.
Glenn Murray missed Tuesday night’s win that took Brighton two points clear of Newcastle again but will be back for their upcoming matches in FA Cup and Championship, fingers crossed as well that Gayle isn’t far behind his former teammate in being available for selection once again.
Glenn Murray speaking to Sky Sports and asked why Dwight wasn’t a bigger success in Premier League at Crystal Palace:
“I think maybe he’s not made to play as one up front and when he played in the Premier League (for Crystal Palace) that was the fashion.
“But Dwight Gayle is one of the best finishers that I have played with: left foot, right foot, head.
“He can sniff a goal out from anywhere and when he does get his chance again in the Premier League, I’m sure that he will come good.
“As soon as I saw that he had signed for Newcastle, I knew that he would score plenty of goals, as he’s a top quality striker.”