Matz Sels in Catch 22 position
Matz Sels now finds himself in a classic Catch 22 position.
The out of favour goalkeeper needing a run of games to try and prove himself again but facing the prospect of only getting his chance in the remaining FA Cup matches, knowing full well that whatever he does he won’t be playing in the following Championship game.
Karl Darlow was really unlucky not to be able to continue his impressive Premier League form into this Championship one, a blunder by Rafa when he instead brought in a player ahead of his who had never played in England before.
He isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last goalkeeper from abroad to find the physical demands of English football tough.
Matz Sels has now got a reputation as a ‘flapper’ when dealing with balls into the box but to be fair, many Newcastle fans picked up on this when United were first linked with & then signed him, video compilations from his Gent days showing that he was reluctant to try and catch the ball, preferring to punch.
Ironically he now finds himself in exactly the same position that Karl Darlow did last season, the difference being that Darlow was judged harshly on just one nervous performance on his league debut for Newcastle, looking edgy throughout against West Brom and then letting in a soft winner.
Matz Sels kept his place though for nine Championship games despite the crowd getting ever more anxious when the ball went near him, the end for him coming when a soft equaliser was conceded at Aston Villa in the final stages.
Surely the best thing now is for the club not to put him out for these interviews and just let him quietly get on with training and hopefully adapting better to English football, away from the Championship spotlight.
He is only 24 and so has time on his side so why not give him some time to see if he can make it?
Maybe the biggest mistake by Rafa Benitez wasn’t so much to sign Matz Sels, rather the fact that he guaranteed the Belgian the first team spot and put him in straight away, ahead of a goalkeeper who had won the fans around and really proved himself at a higher level.
“I am happy if I can play, now there is a return (v Birmingham next Wednesday) and we have to beat them.
“I try to work hard in training, show myself, make it difficult (for Rafa to decide), that is what I try to do.
“It is football. Karl (Darlow) is doing well at the moment and as a goalkeeper there is only one position, so it’s normal.
“I have to be patient and see what the future brings.
“The FA Cup is really important and we will give everything to go through, he Rafa Benitez) changed some players but that is normal – the focus is on the Championship.
“It is also good to let some players rest and give other players a chance to show themselves.
“We started the game (at Birmingham) with another formation, we had to adapt a little bit and trained all week on that – I think the first 20 minutes were good and we were leading 1-0.
“After that they came at us but I don’t think they had really big chances and defensively we were good.
“You are disappointed if you don’t win but now we have a replay and have to beat them at home at St James Park.”
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