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Opinion

Allan Saint-Maximin and these ever increasing unrealistic expectations

5 months ago
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Allan Saint-Maximin continues to be the most talked about player at Newcastle United.

The one player fans look to when it comes to saving us from these horrific Steve Bruce negative and clueless tactics that suffocate almost all attacking threat.

The one attacking ‘plan’ continues to be, give the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin and hope he does something.

If playing for a normal team / manager, this would be seen as desperate BUT not quite so desperate as it is at Newcastle United, because with the team ordered to stay so deep by Steve Bruce, on the limited occasions Allan Saint-Maximin does get the ball he looks up and sees usually the vast majority of the opposition players standing between him and the goal. Not to mention 80 or so yards of turf to cover.

The basic stats tell a story, both regarding Allan Saint-Maximin and Newcastle United overall, under Steve Bruce (and Mike Ashley):

In the 47 Premier League games with Steve Bruce in charge, he (Bruce) has only won once when Allan Saint-Maximin has not started the match.

Allan Saint-Maximin starting 31 PL matches and NUFC winning 13 of them.

Allan Saint-Maximin not starting 16 PL games and Newcastle winning just one of them (when Miguel Almiron scored very late on against Crystal Palace on 21 December 2019 – his (Almiron’s) first ever PL goal).

Last season, Allan Saint-Maximin scored three PL goals and got four assists, this season it is one goal and one assist in the Premier League.

For me, Allan Saint-Maximin has these ever increasing unrealistic expectations surrounding him.

He was quickly compared to the likes of David Ginola, Laurent Robert and Hatem Ben Arfa but it was laughable really to put that kind of tag / expectation on the signing from Nice.

All three of those were French internationals when they arrived at Newcastle United, Allan Saint-Maximin has one sub appearance for the French Under 21s.

Ginola and Ben Arfa had won many league titles and cups in France, Laurent Robert scored 18 goals for PSG in the season before Newcastle bought him, Allan Saint-Maximin has won no trophies and his best season so far saw him score six goals for Nice in 2018/19.

He was AND is a raw diamond that needs looking after and given the best surroundings and guidance to prosper…

Ginola and Robert were in Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby teams intent on attack with great managers. Hatem Ben Arfa was in an attacking team with Chris Hughton and even under Alan Pardew it was streets ahead of the rubbish we are watching now, especially with the likes of Cabaye, Cisse and Ba to play alongside for much of the time, at least looking to attack and score goals in games. Alan Pardew obviously not the best of managers but alongside Steve Bruce…?

I am increasingly seeing various journalists and pundits talking about Allan Saint-Maximin in more negative terms, Alan Shearer amongst them. After the terrible tactics against Chelsea, Shearer did at last admit (see below) that Steve Bruce had to take a lot of the blame for how Newcastle approach games BUT he did then go on to also point the finger at the likes of Jamaal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin regarding their personal contributions.

When your Head Coach has tactics that mean the defence is almost permanently under siege and there is all but zero attacking intent, little wonder that it eventually gets to even your captain and the team’s brightest star.

Personally, I think Ginola, Robert and Ben Arfa were all far better players than Allan Saint-Maximin and on a completely different level.

However, that doesn’t mean ASM is a poor player, I think he is a very good player / prospect and maybe one day I might see him on a similar level as the three mentioned above BUT with Steve Bruce as manager I think it is impossible.

I fear that Bruce is smothering everything that was / is good about Allan Saint-Maximin, as the player is dragged down by the most negative tactics he will ever have encountered.

The players are there at Newcastle United I believe to play far better football AND in particular, get far more out of Allan Saint-Maximin. If he was regularly getting the ball in the opponent’s half with just one (or even just two!) player(s) to run at, he would be right up for it.

Instead, he sees next to nothing of the ball and when he does, it is usually deep in his own half and numerous opponents to get past, indeed ASM spends far more time defending still, even though allegedly he is now playing in a far more attacking position according to Steve Bruce.

The position isn’t hopeless just yet BUT unless Steve Bruce goes, I fear it will be Allan Saint-Maximin instead in the very near future.

Alan Shearer speaking on Match of The Day after the Chelsea match – Saturday 21 November 2020:

“The manager has to take responsibility because he sent the players out.

“They were very negative.

“Nowhere near enough ideas going forward but also players have to take responsibility.

“They have to be braver in possession, work harder closing people down.

“Lascelles as a captain and a leader has to stop demanding protection from midfielders in front of him…and Allan Saint-Maximin hasn’t broken sweat since signing his new six year contract.

“Nowhere near enough and if you stop going forward, you are inviting pressure on yourselves.

“There were nowhere near enough bodies going forward…people prepared to commit to going forward.

“It is negative.

“Their first thought is going backwards and you are never going to score enough goals playing like this.

“Second half was a little bit better and they [Newcastle] created a few more chances but [overall] it was the same thing.

“Too many times this season that is Newcastle.

“Too negative and not going to score goals.”

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