Allan Saint-Maximin now set to START FA Cup fifth round clash at the Hawthorns in dramatic turnaround
Allan Saint-Maximin has been the most talked about player this season for Newcastle United, certainly when it comes to positive talk anyway.
That talking has intensified ahead of tonight’s FA Cup clash with West Brom.
After Saturday’s poor goalless draw with Burnley, Steve Bruce said that Allan Saint-Maximin had been left out because he had a hamstring problem, which then begged the question of why then would you risk him. Subsequently, on Monday, Steve Bruce then stated that after that 78th minute sub appearance, ASM now had hamstring and back issues, meaning he would almost certainly be missing West Brom.
Overnight, an exclusive from The Mail (see below) reported that they had been told by sources that ASM was actually fully fit and had been dropped on Saturday due to Steve Bruce having not been impressed with him in training and believing other players were more reliable.
Now on Tuesday morning, widespread media reports (including The Mail) are now reporting that Allan Saint-Maximin is set to start tonight, having trained yesterday afternoon without any problems.
Great news for Newcastle fans when it comes to FA Cup hopes but still worries about these underlying claims of unrest with the player.
Saint-Maximin has carried Newcastle’s only threat going forward in most games he has been involved in and Newcastle have won only one Premier League game when the 22 year old didn’t start.
In the FA Cup replay at Oxford, the final hour or more saw ASM as Newcastle’s only hope of a goal and in extra time he scored a stunner to take Newcastle through to tonight’s match.
Coincidentally, this morning saw TheOther14 (who specialise in stats for the 14 teams who aren’t the ‘big six’ clubs) publish this updated table of which players create the most chances in the Premier League per 90 minutes played:
As you can see, only five other players create more chances in open play than Allan Saint-Maximin. The winger creating an average of 1.60 chances per 90 minutes, with Jonjo Shelvey (one every 1.44) the only other NUFC player to make the list.
Steve Bruce as already made clear that Shelvey and others who played on Saturday after being out injured, will not start tonight, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it is even more imperative that we have ASM on the pitch against West Brom.
The Mag – Earlier today (Tuesday 3 March 2020):
A lot of talking points when the Newcastle team was announced on Saturday with Steve Bruce changing to a back four, though Allan Saint-Maximin on the bench was arguably more of a surprise/shock.
Lining up in a kind of 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 formation, it was Joelinton who played left wing, with Dwight Gayle through the middle and Miguel Almiron as second striker.
The Brazilian may have done marginally better on the left than through the middle, though that didn’t take much, but the crowd became increasingly restless as a toothless NUFC headed for another blank.
The fans and media were bemused as to why Steve Bruce waited until 12 minutes to go before finally making the chance the supporters were crying out for, Allan Saint-Maximin replacing Joelinton.
Predictably, ASM carried far more threat in his few minutes on the pitch than the £43m man had done, working an opening for a powerful low shot from outside the box that was one of only four on target all game. Then late on, Allan Saint-Maximin initiated the move that could/should have won the game, carrying the ball until taken out, the referee allowing a good play on, Shelvey feeding Ritchie who by noyt taking it first time allowed a block.
After the match, Steve Bruce said that Allan Saint-Maximin had been left out because he had a hamstring problem, which then begged the question of why then would you risk him.
Subsequently, on Monday, Steve Bruce then stated that after that 78th minute sub appearance, ASM now had hamstring and back issues, meaning he would almost certainly be missing West Brom.
However, an exclusive from The Mail now reports that Allan Saint-Maximin was simply dropped on Saturday, they say that their source have told them that in actual fact the winger is fully fit and was available to start on Saturday, as well as tonight at the Hawthorns.
The report says that the 22 year old’s future at Newcastle United is now in doubt, with both Crystal Palace and Wolves ‘monitoring developments after learning of the situation’ that has developed between Bruce and the player.
The Mail say that Steve Bruce ‘wanted to field a team he could rely on against Burnley’ after having been less than impressed with Allan Saint-Maximin in recent training sessions.
The clueless negative tactics employed by Steve Bruce have dismayed Newcastle fans, with Allan Saint-Maximin the sole source usually of any goal threat and entertainment.
Whilst Newcastle were minimally more threatening on Saturday and had more control, this was largely due to Burnley sitting back happy to take a point and the fact they are the next lowest (41%) when it comes to average possession in a game this season, after Newcastle (36%) at the very bottom.
Indeed, this report from The Mail also claims that ‘a number of players have been frustrated with the tactics employed, believe the team should be playing better football, and are more capable than Bruce is making out in public.’
This is no surprise after Steve Bruce has repeated talked the team down, stating they aren’t capable of doing anything other than playing all out defence. The NUFC Head Coach embarrassingly continuing to go with his claims that it is Rafa Benitez’ fault that the players aren’t capable of doing better due to Rafa employing the three centre-back system.
This despite Newcastle having the eighth best form last season over the course of the final 28 PL games:
The fifth best over the final 16 matches, scoring the fifth highest number of goals:
You only need to look at the stats of when ASM has and hasn’t started in the Premier League this season to see his importance…
This is Newcastle United’s record this season when Allan Saint-Maximin has been able to start:
Played 14 Won 7 Drawn 3 Lost 4 Points 24 Goals For 15 Goals Against 15
This is Newcastle United’s record this season when Allan Saint-Maximin hasn’t been able to start:
Played 14 Won 1 Drawn 5 Lost 8 Points 8 Goals For 9 Goals Against 26
No doubting who would win any popularity contest between ASM and Steve Bruce, whilst this latest report will no doubt have many fans comparing the situation to another unpopular manager/head coach who didn’t have a clue what to do with a maverick winger…(incidentally, Steve Bruce also had Hatem Ben Arfa at Hull, where it ended badly).
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]