Last season Dwight Gayle scored 23 goals despite only starting 26 Championship matches.
Despite this, I always got the feeling that Newcastle fans truly appreciated how good he was and indeed, how good he had been for the team.
When Gayle signed for Rafa Benitez in summer 2016, pundits were universally surprised that he’d been willing to drop back into the Championship, with the common belief that even at £10m the striker represented a bit of a bargain in the prevailing transfer market.
With his Championship rival Chris Wood going to Burnley this summer for £15m, Newcastle clearly got value for money when they bought Gayle, a striker with surely more Premier League quality/potential than the now former Leeds man.
A bit like last season, I think Newcastle fans are being slow to appreciate that Dwight Gayle is once again showing he is more than good enough for the top tier.
He clearly wasn’t 100% in those opening two matches against Spurs and Huddersfield, plus got almost zero service in those games.
However, since returning for the Bournemouth match it has been a different matter, although the supply chain has only got marginally better.
A wrongly disallowed goal against Bournemouth, a very good goal against second placed Man Utd, a blank v Watford, then another goal yesterday against third placed Chelsea.
What’s more though is that his fitness/sharpness is definitely back as well, putting proper pressure on defenders when Newcastle don’t have possession, something which Joselu, Perez and Mitro are incapable of doing.
Despite this, many supporters are overlooking what to me is obvious.
The lack of goals overall (14 in 15 PL games now), along with the desperate state of Joselu and the Mitrovic sideshow, has led Newcastle fan unhappiness with the team/attacking side in general, to mean Gayle hasn’t been given the proper credit.
Bottom line is that Dwight Gayle simply needs more help.
With Diame and Perez behind him, little wonder that after his 12th minute strike Gayle struggled.
Apart from set-pieces Matt Ritchie hasn’t really delivered in a creative sense this season, whilst the contribution from the other wing has been poor to average.
Mikel Merino and Jonjo Shelvey are two players who can potentially help deliver a better supply line but they also need more assistance, which 100% has to be added to this squad in January.
I think it is obvious that Rafa Benitez knows Dwight Gayle is his only striker fit for purpose and has to look after him accordingly, so no wonder he rested him against West Brom in midweek to try and help avoid him breaking down again by playing too often.
Since joining Crystal Palace in 2013 his record has been excellent when getting the chance.
Due to injuries and Palace using him sparingly, since summer 2013 Dwight Gayle has started only 59 league matches but scored an impressive 40 goals in the Championship and Premier League.
Even when you add in substitute appearances, in total he has played 5,443 minutes of league football in that time period, the 40 goals (23 in Championship and 17 in Premier League) coming at a rate of one every 136 minutes.
It is early days but for me, Dwight Gayle is showing that he is the player/striker who can make the difference for Newcastle this season.
With Mikel Merino and Jonjo Shelvey fully fit and Rafa finding a way for them to play in the same team, they can help Gayle to keep scoring in the meantime, before a player of similar quality or better can be added in January to play alongside/behind Gayle for the rest of the season.
If you really still think Mitrovic is the answer ahead of Dwight Gayle, then I don’t really know what to say. I think maybe Mitro should be used a little more as an impact sub but with his inability be able to run around, he has no place in the kind of team Rafa Benitez is looking to play this season to bring about survival.