I can’t remember seeing a Newcastle player have a worse performance than that of Kenedy against Cardiff. The club’s long history is peppered with enough memorable mishaps (no matter how much I drink to forget) to fill an entire archive.
Even so, the winger’s torrid time was unique for its unexpectedness after the galvanising effect his creativity had on the club in the latter half of last season. The whole team are reliant on his movement and skill. When it was absent in Wales, they looked insipid.
Even before taking the penalty in the game’s tragic final act, his self-belief seemed totally destroyed. He needs to recover any semblance of self-belief pretty quickly otherwise NUFC’s results will look very ugly by Christmas.
Anyone can have the odd bad game but it was that look of terror as he ran up to take the spot-kick which was reminiscent of him freezing when he was through on goal against Spurs.
At the end of last season, Kenedy and Shelvey proved the dominant attacking outlets in the team. Even without the ball, the loan signing’s running allowed space for Perez to get into better positions to score.
Without a speedy return of that confident and dynamic version of him we saw previously, Newcastle’s goal threat will be about as potent as a neutered pet dog.
If one of our number-tens stepped up to fill the void then the situation would be a lot less worrying. Perez’ inconsistent purple patches show he has the potential to make an impact.
Nevertheless, the Spaniard was virtually an ever-present in the side before the summer, giving him enough playing-time to eventually reach top form. Now he must compete with Muto for his place.
Rafa seems to want to rotate between the two with each game, 70 minutes or an hour at a time probably isn’t going to bring the best results out of either of them though. They need some stability to build a partnership with whichever striker is playing. So once again, the majority of the link-up play is dependent on Kenedy.
If Cardiff only proves to be an anomalous blip then Newcastle have every chance of playing slick and respectable football, without quite ever blowing anyone away.
Kenedy is, after all, one of only a handful of ‘quality’ players within the squad. But, on the other hand, it may prove to be a nasty wake up call – if anyone (miraculously) still wasn’t already alarmed.
Hopefully his enforced absence against his parent club last weekend will have given Kenedy enough time to reflect and recover. The hopes of the club depend on it.
(***ED: This article was written and received BEFORE the Forest shambles, with Kenedy once again struggling, here’s hoping for better at Manchester City on Saturday…)