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Newcastle United signing who cheated Mike Ashley recruitment policy is happy to be back

1 year ago

He was the one that Mike Ashley allowed to slip through the net.

A 29 year old signed for £6m on Premier League wages on deadline day in August 2018.

After four years in the Premier League with Swansea, Federico Fernandez arrived on Tyneside.

Chancel Mbemba had been sold and when Florian Lejeune went down long-term injured just ahead of the season, even Mike Ashley accepted Rafa Benitez’ reasoning that Fernandez fit the bill.

A defender Rafa knew well from his time with the defender at Napoli.

Federico Fernandez instantly impressed Newcastle fans and was arguably the club’s best player in the difficult start to last season, starating 15 Premier League games before the end of 2018.

However, once Rafa Benitez got a pretty much fit squad, particularly Florian Lejeune, Federico Fernandez found himself the one squeezed out at the back.

Starting the Wolves game, the former Argentina international had only started two Premier League games in 2019.

However, Fernandez has perfectly summed up why you need a strong squad.

The defender played a full part in helping Rafa turn last season around and in the 19 games PL games of 2018/19 he featured in:

Played 19 Won 5 Drawn 6 Lost 8 GF 27 GA 23

In the 19 games where Fernandez wasn’t involved:

Played 19 Won 7 Drawn 3 Lost 9 GF 15 GA 25

Just four less points in Fernandez’ half of the season despite that tough start, whilst it is very noticeable that Newcastle scored more and conceded less in the half season of matches when he was involved.

One strange aspect of his signing was that unlike with young players who Mike Ashley likes to give very long contracts to (six years for Joelinton and ASM etc), he went over the top in the other direction with Federico Fernandez. The excellent defender only signed on a two year contract and will be only 31 at the end of this season, no age for a central defender, when he could walk away as a free agent.

Once again,  big shame that Newcastle have such an unbalanced squad, so many good options at centre-back but not elsewhere.

Steve Bruce has already said he intends to go to a back four as his favoured option when it is practical, which would then mean only two places between Lascelles, Schar, Fernandez, Clark and Lejeune once all of them are fit.

Federico Fernandez reflecting on only his third PL start of 2019 and first under Steve Bruce:

“The last two months have been quite difficult, as a player, you want to be involved in the team.

“In the first three or four games, I was outside (the Newcastle Premier League squad), so I tried to keep working and training hard.

“You never know when the possibility comes and I think I had a decent game personally (against Wolves), so now I need to push on and be in the team.”

“We have played some good football and you saw that in the first half (on Sunday).

“Every week we try to build and we are trying to put everything into the game to win.

“It was disappointing not to get the win but I think the first half was good in terms of keeping the ball and how many chances we created.

“The second half was totally different – we didn’t keep the ball and go forward, that is why we were disappointed.

“We were winning 1-0 in front of our fans, so we needed to show a little bit more.”

“(On the Newcastle goal)I was thinking ‘I need to cross’ and it was a decent cross, I found Jamaal and he scored a decent goal.”


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