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.”

  • Kneebotherm8

    Only five first team starts in a top division?…..wow…….that’s unbelievable really the way he’s played for us,what a prospect he is. He’s,pretty much,rammed Sounness’s words back down his mouth for that “blip” at Huddersfield.

    • gallowgate26

      Doesn’t take much though does it? “I’ll win nothing with 11 James Milners” – Graeme Souness. James Milner – later became Man City, Liverpool and England player.

      • Kneebotherm8

        His signings for us,as manager, were absolutely abysmal,so his judgement on player quality has to be,pretty much,dismissed.In essence he knows sweet FA.

        • Jezza

          Souness is just an over rated thug of a player, a serial failure of a manager and a clown of a pundit in a bad toupe.

  • Toonbadger

    Old head on young shoulders. OH and Soonas is a prat

  • Paul Patterson

    Souness is a div. Soundbites for soundbite sake. Any player at the start of his career is going to make a mistake or two and someone should tell him that. There’s no Newcastle biased pundit on sky to do so though.
    Merino, a class act and a player I’m really warming to..

  • Damon Horner

    Young player with sell on value, no Premier League experience, not much top flight experience and we paid a modest price and so far looks excellent.

    This is why fans shouldn’t judge a player before he steps on the field. Long way to go yet but you have to love what you see of him.

  • Steve Pearce

    Such maturity from a young player and its shows up Sourass for the fool that he is. I am literally salivating at the thought of a Merino/Shelvey/Hayden midfield line up and would gladly sacrifice Perez. Over to you Senor Benitez – make it so!

    • Wor Lass

      Good Star Trek reference! Keep those Matter and Anti-matter pods well segregated on Saturday!

    • Toonrobbybobson

      While im not Perez biggest fan there is a reason Rafa using him. If you watch the games hes constantly closingndown from the front helping us to triple up on opposition players and turnover the ball in key areas. That area of Perez’s game is hugely improved under Rafa. Much of whatw weve done lately had come out of such moments. He still has much to improve on.

  • Whitehurst

    With such extensive knowledge of how the rich & noble art of football should be played….it beggars belief why Souness has been out of football management for the best part of 10 years!! Crying shame. 💥😵🔫

  • Rich Lawson

    What a very level headed young man,with that sort of attitude and they way he has played so far looks a clever aquisition by Rafa.

  • Wor Lass

    The sad but predictable thing is that there were quite a few of the usual suspects on here saying exactly the same thing as Souness. This lad is a footballer and I think he`s a big and tough enough unit to handle life in the EPL. It`s early days yet but all the signs are that he`s a bargain. He`s only had a bit of a game so far, but I think Lejeune could well be another inspired selection. I`m looking forward to Saturday`s game and finding out a bit more about our chances this season!

  • gallowgate26

    When this lad signed I allowed myself to daydream that he could be the Xabi Alonso signing of the Rafa era at Newcastle. (We all know Rafa has hits and misses at every club). I’m not suggesting that he is by the way but from what I’ve seen there are positive signs, he is currently keeping our best player out of the team and Merino seems to have the world at his feet. I’d go so far as to say he has more flair and the potential to be even better than Alonso! Praise indeed.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Love this lad… how did we get him again? Haha


    Speaks well, plays well. Hard to credit he’s 21. He could give maturity lessons to Shelvey and Mitro.

    I’m reluctant to get overexcited after a handful of games, but I have a very positive feeling about this fella.