Mikel Merino has made a big impression on Newcastle fans in a very short space of time.
Grasping the opportunity gifted by Jonjo Shelvey’s stupidity, the loan signing has impressed in all three Premier League starts.
Hard to believe that this still only makes a total of five career starts in the top division of any country.
His first start was against Huddersfield and despite a very decent individual performance overall, the likes of Graeme Souness slaughtered the 21 year and basically wrote him off, based on Merino being at fault for the winning goal.
Showing his cool head once again, Mikel Merino says dealing with idiots such as Souness is ‘part of being intelligent, being clever, being calm and knowing how it works’.
The 21 year old saying that if he had let it get to him it would have almost certainly prevented him playing such a big part in the win over West Ham (and then Swansea).
Obviously he has his focus on what and who is really important, the player thankful for the reaction of supporters, saying ‘I received the love of the fans on social media and I’m so thankful for that’.
However, he is also switched on enough to know that you can only take praise so far…’I take it easy, because it can change’.
It has now become very interesting to see what Rafa Benitez does over the course of the season in terms of using Mikel Merino, Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden and indeed, whether he will at times play all three together, with maybe Perez dropping out.
Great for the manager to suddenly have (positive) options.
Mikel Merino talking to the match programme (v Stoke):
“It’s part of football (dealing with criticism).
“It’s part of being intelligent, being clever, being calm and knowing how it works.
“Maybe if I was a bit angry or disappointed because of people saying things, I wouldn’t have played the same way (against West Ham).
“So I tried to do my job, enjoy playing and helping my teammates and, well, we won 3-0.
“I received the love of the fans on social media and I’m so thankful for that.
“I love when people say you are good, but I take it easy, because it can change.
“I love the way people are with the team, the way people support the team in the matches, it’s the perfect way – the combination between the team and the crowd is incredible, and it has to be like this to improve.
“It’s part of me (to work hard and tackle), and it’s the way I understand football. You can be a really good player on the ball but you have to compete yourself.
“You have to fight for the ball, defend, run. I love running. If I finish a match and I’m not exhausted, that means I haven’t given 100%, and that would be wrong.
“You have to go onto the grass and compete, not only have the ball and do tiki-taka, like they say in Spain.
“You have to be complete, and get better and better. If you only think about having the ball, you will not be as good as if you work on all parts of your football.”