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How quickly Newcastle fans forget “Already team-mates talking of him being good enough for Real Madrid or Barcelona”

7 months ago
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As Newcastle/football fans we are all guilty of short-termism.

It is easy to forget how good or bad a player (or team) was in the early stages of a season, far easier to just think about the here and now, what has just happened.

You even get this over the course of just a single 90 minute match.

Somebody scores a brilliant goal and you totally ignore/forget the half a dozen sitters missed.

A goalkeeper makes a series of blinding saves but letting in a soft late goal and that is all anybody will remember/want to talk about.

These are extremes of course but we are all guilty of this to some extent.

With Mikel Merino eventually confirmed as a Real Sociedad player on Thursday, I came across this article below that I wrote in November.

It talked about the top football writers at The Mail who had picked out the best Premier League summer signing to have performed so far.

A back injury had ruled Mikel Merino by that point but two of the Mail journalists had seen more than enough in those opening three months of the season, to name the Spaniard as the PL top signing, even above Mo Salah.

Ian Herbert wrote ‘…his vision and ability on the ball has enabled him – a mere 21-year-old new to the English game – to become the cog of a moderate team.’

Meanwhile, Craig Hope declared ‘Mikel Merino only cost around £6.5million from Borussia Dortmund but already team-mates are talking of him being good enough for Real Madrid or Barcelona. The Spain Under-21 midfielder is a class act – enjoy him in the Premier League while it lasts!’

How prophetic those final words proved to be!

I’m not claiming that Mikel Merino will end up playing for Barca or Real Madrid but I don’t understand those Newcastle fans who almost celebrating the fact that he is leaving.

He is still a player with great potential, potential that we massively saw evidence of back in those early months of last season, and he could prove to be a very very good player that has slipped through our hands.

The Mag – 7 November 2018:

Mikel Merino was a big hit with the Newcastle fans from the first sightings early this season.

Idiots/attention seekers such as Graeme Souness chose to slaughter the 21 year old, for the mistake he made on his first start that helped lead to Huddersfield’s winner.

However, supporters could see that this was potentially a top quality signing.

Sure enough, Mikel Merino was Newcastle’s best player as Rafa’s team then followed up with 10 points from the next 15, culminating in the draw against Liverpool.

Having begun to get wider recognition as the national media woke up, Merino was then confirmed as a permanent signing for Newcastle.

However, a back injury picked up in the Liverpool match has prevented the midfielder starting any of the four games since.

No coincidence then maybe that Newcastle have won only one of these four recent games and that was when Mikel Merino came off the bench to score the only goal against Palace – the last two games/defeats against Burnley and Bournemouth particularly disappointing in his absence.

The second-half on Saturday would surely have not ended up such a ragged shambles, if the young cool-headed Spaniard had been there to put his foot on the ball.

Rafa Benitez says that they will be monitoring Merino’s back injury over the course of this international break and Newcastle fans will be desperately hoping he is back as soon as possible.

The international break is also a time for both fans and media to get reflective on how things have gone so far.

The Mail have asked their football journalists a number of questions about the Premier League season so far, including ‘Who has been the best Premier League signing so far?’.

Whilst others have gone for the likes of Mohamed Salah, two have made an inspired selection:

Ian Herbert:

“Mikel Merino, the Newcastle loanee, whom Rafa Benitez has monitored through the Spain youth ranks, does not have the complete game.

“Pace is the one aspect lacking.

“But his vision and ability on the ball has enabled him – a mere 21-year-old new to the English game – to become the cog of a moderate team.”

Craig Hope:

“I will pick a player on my North-East patch as I’ve seen more of Newcastle than anyone else.

“Mikel Merino only cost around £6.5million from Borussia Dortmund but already team-mates are talking of him being good enough for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“The Spain Under-21 midfielder is a class act – enjoy him in the Premier League while it lasts!”

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