Watching the match at Brighton and especially the ‘contribution’ of Ayoze Perez, I was reminded of what I had written about him three months ago.
It was the end of May and with only Atsu’s loan confirmed as now a permanent deal, I was contemplating which new signings would arrive and what potential involvement Perez would have this Premier League season.
At that point of course, we were all quite innocent and still hopeful that Rafa was set to get proper backing from Mike Ashley.
Rather than the eventual net spend of £11.5m that he was allowed in the summer window.
Newcastle recruited neither a first choice striker or number 10 that the United boss was obviously desperate to land.
However, back on 31 May, without that knowledge at hand, I wrote:
‘How many games Perez starts this coming season could be a perfect barometer as to how successful Newcastle are – if the new signings come in and hit the ground running then I see the former Tenerife player spending most of his time watching from the sidelines.
However, if he is getting regular football then I think it will be very much a season of struggle, as the new recruits have failed to prove they can offer any more than Perez.’
With nobody brought in and Mohamed Diame being even worse in pre-season than Ayoze Perez, the Spaniard started the season in the number 10 position.
What is more he has now started all six Premier League matches so far.
Against Brighton he was truly anonymous/woeful and my worry levels are now significant, if he is allowed to hang around much longer in the first team.
Yes Newcastle won three games in a row before Sunday’s defeat but I think it was despite having Perez on the pitch, rather than him making any kind of notable contribution. The term ‘flatters to deceive’ could have been written for him, at times he does some nice little touches but has zero end product or influence most of the time.
Fingers crossed that Rafa will give up on the experiment very soon, I know that we aren’t flush with great options but surely shifting the team around to maybe play Ritchie or Shelvey in that number 10 position must be worth a go.
What I wrote on The Mag – 31 May 2017:
‘Many Newcastle fans thought Ayoze Perez would tear up the Championship but he once again didn’t make himself indispensable, Rafa Benitez giving him only 25 of 46 starts with 11 from the bench. Perez sharing the number 10 duties (as well as some games elsewhere) with the equally frustrating Mohamed Diame.
Eventually ending up with nine goals and six assists, it was a satisfactory season but far below what should be expected if he is to be a major player on the return to the Premier League.
Ayoze Perez has some ability but is it enough to overcome his lack of pace? Drifting through so many games, can he get involved enough to deserve a place in Rafa’s team?
So much rests on the players Rafa Benitez manages to bring in. Ayoze Perez sets a certain standard and my hope is that we bring in better quality who can give more in the top tier.
How many games Perez starts this coming season could be a perfect barometer as to how successful Newcastle are – if the new signings come in and hit the ground running then I see the former Tenerife player spending most of his time watching from the sidelines. However, if he is getting regular football then I think it will be very much a season of struggle, as the new recruits have failed to prove they can offer any more than Perez.’