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Opinion

‘In Rafa Benitez and Dwight Gayle we trust’

9 months ago
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Some people on The Mag often have a curious case of double standards where Newcastle United are concerned. Now whilst I’m not wholly convinced on the potential transfer myself, our prospective move for Salomon Rondon has highlighted a bit of hypocrisy from some.

If you take his goal scoring record, it’s certainly not great and I would certainly baulk at paying anything more than £15m-£20m, but if Rafa sees him as the clinical striker to finish off moves from the team he is building behind him, who are we to argue?

This is a striker that, last season alone, was managed by a combination of Tony Pulis (arguably regarded as the most negative manager in the game), followed by the comedy duo of Alan Pardew and John Carver, then finally by rookie Darren Moore, Moore actually getting a decent tune out of West Brom in the last few games and if there had been a few more matches, may have even stayed up.

My point being, that you can’t deride a striker for being poor/useless one minute, then criticise their managers the next and not expect a bit of confusion at the two states of affairs. Any striker would struggle to score a hatful of goals under Pulis and let’s not forget, it’s a running joke in the game (and on The Mag) that the second players are put under the management of our former boss, they instantly become ‘Pardewed‘. Which is it to be? A striker is only as effective as his manager and team around him.

Which brings me onto Dwight Gayle.

Since the start I have seen the love-in for Aleksandar Mitrovic and have applauded him while he was here. Nobody shouted ‘Mitro’s on fire’ louder than me whenever he scored and he certainly united sections of the fans to a new ‘cult hero’. But it often bemused me to not see anywhere near the same love for the little striker who scored the goals that played a key part in taking us to the Championship title two seasons ago.

In the Championship season, it was almost a case of when the Serbian scored there was mass delirium and ‘MITRO’S ON FIRE, YOUR DEFENCE IS TERRIFFIED’ ‘NA NA NA NA NA NA NA, NA NA NA NA NA NA’, yet when Gayle netted, there was a cheer, mild applause and everyone sits down. I never understood it. I’ve stated previously that Dwight Gayle is a decent striker who will get goals if chances are created for him, but until Kenedy arrived last season, chances were at a premium and when we shipped a goal or two, that was the game up.

Martin Dubravka played his part in shoring up the defence and it’s been vital getting him on board again this season. The captain’s influence explains itself and it’s vital Jamaal Lascelles is also retained and not sold off. Some people aren’t sold on Ayoze Perez, but like it or not his goals kept us up and I’d be happy to see him continue as No.10 next season, unless someone radically better comes along, which is doubtful.

Rafa Benitez has got a cracking spine to the side with Dubravka, Lascelles, Shelvey and Perez all weighing in with some top performances last year. Dwight Gayle isn’t a player that should be held in any lesser regard, simply because he misses chances or isn’t Mr Popular. A similar player way back when, was Craig Bellamy, who often didn’t get held in as high esteem as the obviously more popular Alan Shearer, but all strikers miss chances in their careers, the key is to make sure you’re there to miss them in the first place.

Be it a Shearer, a Bellamy, a Gayle or a Rondon. Whoever we have up front, if the chances are created in plentiful supply, they will all miss some of them. It’s clear Rafa is trying to sort out the flanks with the rumoured offers for Townsend and Kenedy most welcome from me. From 2001-04 saw Newcastle score a bucket load of goals thanks to Sir Bobby Robson getting the wings sorted with Laurent Robert supplementing Nobby Solano on the other side and boy did Shearer and Bellamy make best use of them.

Teams don’t play with two up top very often now and certainly Rafa will stick to a clinical striker system in the team. The key is the service and if he sees Salomon Rondon, Dwight Gayle, or whoever, as the men to share that burden, then so be it.

In Rafa we trust!
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