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When the answer is Jeff Hendrick at Newcastle United, you have to wonder what the question is

9 months ago

Jeff Hendrick arrived at Newcastle United in August 2020.

The kind of signing where you have heard of him, kind of know who he is, but if asked to describe his style of play and what he actually does, you would struggle to come up with anything of use.

A quick glance showed you that Jeff Hendrick had gone from Derby to Burnley in 2016 for £10m and in his four years in the Premier League, score nine Premier League goals with five assists.

The midfielder then running his four year contract down, so that he could leave for nothing in summer 2020 and thus as a free agent, get more cash via signing on fee and higher wages.

Mike Ashley and Newcastle United reportedly keen these days to be looking for free transfers as well as loan signings, only signing players under a certain age now only a memory, especially if no transfer fee to be paid.

So far under Steve Bruce, only five of the thirteen senior signings have seen a transfer fee paid.

I think fair to say that most players who end up leaving as free agents fall into at least one of these categories: older player, regularly injured player, not very good quality player, not very good character player (who cynically runs their contract down so can leave for nothing).

In my opinion it is mostly false economy signing free agents, as in most cases you are signing players with big question marks about them and paying them higher wages than you would normally have done, if there had been a transfer fee to play as well.

Anyway, as well as Carroll, Fraser and Gillespie, Jeff Hendrick is one of Steve Bruce’s free transfer signings.

Hendrick also featuring prominently ahead of this key crunch relegation battle at West Brom on Sunday…

Premier League goals and assists by Newcastle United players so far in 2020/21 season:

10 and 5 – Callum Wilson

4 and 1 – Miguel Almiron

2 and 3 – Allan Saint Maximin

2 and 1 – Jeff Hendrick

1 and 2 – Joelinton

1 and 1 – Jacob Murphy

1 and 1 – Jonjo Shelvey

0 and 2 – Ryan Fraser

1 and 0 – Andy Carroll

1 and 0 – Ciaran Clark

1 and 0 – Dwight Gayle

1 and 0 – Jamaal Lascelles

1 and 0 – Joe Willock

0 and 1 – Jamal Lewis

1 and 0 – Own goal (v Man Utd in 4-1 defeat at St James Park)

Quite incredibly / shockingly, in the absence of Wilson, ASM and Almiron, Jeff Hendrick is the answer to the question, which NUFC player available for Sunday has been the most productive with their end product so far this season?

Never has the turn of phrase ‘in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’ been more appropriate…the stats suggesting that Jeff Hendrick is Newcastle’s best chance of scoring or creating a goal on Sunday!

Hendrick’s three goal contributions (two goals, one assist) have come in 17 Premier League appearances this season, whilst Joelinton’s three (one goal, two assists) have featured in 20 PL appearances in 2020/21.

After that pair, no available player has been directly involved in more than two goals.

Truly a feeble state of affairs.

On a serious note, I think Jeff Hendrick is woeful and a shocking signing, quite incredible he has been given a lucrative four year contract and we will be stuck with him until summer 2024 when he will be aged 32 by that point, when we will be able finally to shift him once out of contract.

The stats are a bit misleading anyway, as Jeff Hendrick had one of those right place right time debuts, scoring and getting an assist in that 2-0 debut win at West Ham. For anybody who hadn’t checked his career stats they might have thought Newcastle had signed a productive central midfielder, whereas the reality is they were simply adding yet another one who very rarely scores or creates goals. Which is one of the major reasons why Newcastle are fighting relegation.

Never mind scoring or assisting, since that opening day of the season it has been a rare event to actually spot Hendrick on the pitch, despite starting 16 PL matches I have never ‘seen’ such an anonymous player who so rarely gets involved, then when he does, the ball almost always ends up going backwards.

Nicknamed the ‘Ghost’ by many Newcastle fans due to his hide and see abilities, Jeff Hendrick added a goal in the 5-2 win at Leeds as his only significant contribution since the first match of the season.

Amusingly, whilst Jeff Hendrick appears to contribute so little, the stats do show that in 16 PL Hendrick starts this season, Newcastle have won six and drawn two picking up 20 points (an average of 1.25 points per game), Whilst when Hendrick hasn’t started, ten PL games and only one win and three draws picking up six points (an average of 0.6 points per PL game).

Four transfer windows have seen Steve Bruce sign and / or retain a lot of poor to average players.

Jeff Hendrick is a real poster boy for that utter mediocrity and will Steve Bruce mould a team from the ranks of the mediocre that can score and create and beat West Brom?


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