The curious case of Miguel Almiron
On Tuesday night, Miguel Almiron scored Paraguay’s second goal during their 4 2 win against Jordan. This was his first goal for 304 days.
Almiron has received a fair amount of criticism in recent weeks.
There was a lot of excitement when he arrived in January but he has not yet scored or assisted in his first fourteen Newcastle appearances. He missed two good chances in our last match against Watford and has started to get a fair amount of criticism in the media.
The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards was critical after the Watford performance, describing him as a ‘Striker incapable of finding the back of the net’.
I don’t think that this description is fair as Almiron is not a striker but some are clearly starting to run out of patience.
There is no doubt that Almiron is a talented player and he can get the crowd off their seats in a way that has rarely been seen since Hatem Ben Arfa was at the club. He has certainly had his share of bad luck. Only the post prevented him from scoring on his home debut after a beautiful chip over Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lössl.
Last season, Miguel Almiron played his part as our form improved in the second half of the season. Playing on the left of a front three with Ayoze Perez and Solomon Rondon, his ability to break and carry the ball helped us advance up the pitch and created space for Rondon and Perez to impact the game. Often running from deep, his ability to help us counter-attack and pick up fouls also helped reduce the pressure on our defence.
Although he did not score, or assist, he played a vital part in Rafa Benitez’s system and it was a shame to see his season end early after a cynical foul from Southampton’s Oriel Romeu.
This season; Rafa, Rondon and Perez have all gone and this cannot help a player who is still adjusting to life in the Premier League.
In the first two games of the season, against Arsenal and Norwich, our new manager (Head Coach…) Steve Bruce played him in a front two with new signing Joelinton. This did not get the best out of either player and Almiron was unable to make an impact from a central position. When he came deep to try to get the ball it left Joelinton isolated.
Thankfully Steve Bruce abandoned the formation after the Norwich match and Almiron looked far more comfortable against Spurs and Watford out wide, where he can make more of an impact with his runs.
Of course, Almiron’s goals and assists output needs to improve. Hopefully his goal on international duty can boost his confidence. He has made a massive step up from the MLS to the Premier League and he will need time to adjust.
Almiron missed most of pre-season too after appearing for Paraguay in the Copa America tournament which he ended with two assists.
It is early days but Miguel Almiron certainly looks like an exciting prospect. I just hope that fans and media give him a bit of time and don’t judge him too soon.
You can follow Kieran on Twitter @KJR90
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