Whatever happened to Dwight Gayle?
Alright, it’s about time the question was asked…’What the hell is going on with Dwight Gayle?’
No, seriously, the joke isn’t funny anymore.
Now for those of you that have been living in a cave, Newcastle United need a striker, arguably two or three.
Since Callum Wilson hobbled off the pitch against Manchester United we have gone from having a problem up front, to now a full blown crisis as we’ve been left with pretty much nowt up top.
Goals were hard to come by even with Wilson’s presence in the side, but without him in there, we struggle to find the back of the net at all, as we found out in painful circumstances against Cambridge United of League One.
I’m still of the opinion that what was on the pitch on Saturday should have had enough about them to at least score and that they didn’t, is pretty damning. I would hope shooting practice was penned in for first thing this morning.
This brings me on to something that has been nagging at me for a few seasons now, the mystery of striker Dwight Gayle.
Many will say he’s Championship standard and they’d be correct, but I’d point out that when he has come in he’s at least looked busy and if you cast your minds back to the final run of games in 2019/20, he actually scored a few goals. The goals came against Liverpool, Watford, Villa and Bournemouth and that brought his season total to four goals from 20 games. Granted, hardly impressive, but for the relatively little time, sporadic appearances and poor side he was playing in. it was a start. Plus the four goals came in his final eight PL appearances of that season when Dwight Gayle finally got a bit of a run in the side, six starts and two sub appearances in his final eight 2019/20 games.
He’s never going to be prolific but there needs to be an acknowledgment that there is a problem there and this problem has existed for numerous seasons now. Steve Bruce wouldn’t / couldn’t solve it and now it seems Eddie Howe has inherited it and not tackled it head on.
Now be it rumours of a bust up with coach Graeme Jones, a contractual situation where the player must get a new deal / higher wages if he hits certain appearances / goals targets, I genuinely don’t care, it’s inconsequential to the relegation we face.
Under Steve Bruce we would frequently be losing or drawing games and with both Gayle and fellow striker Andy Carroll on the bench, our former Head Coach often refused to put either of them on the field, save for a few minutes here and there, instead he persisted with the folly of £40m Joelinton as the main striker.
Indeed, Dwight Gayle sat unused in Bruce’s last game in charge against Tottenham Hotspur at St James Park with the side 1-3 and then 2-3 down. The same happened again against Crystal Palace and Chelsea under Graeme Jones’ interim management, all the while we were needing goals and Gayle sat watching while other less forward thinking players got on the pitch as substitutes.
Unfortunately, Eddie Howe has continued to indulge in the farce. In one of those so called “must win” games we had down at Brighton, we were once again chasing the game and in need of goals. 0-1 down until Isaac Hayden popped up with an equaliser, Howe decided it wise to wait until the 94th minute to bring Gayle on. What was he supposed to do in that time?
Fast forward to the entertaining Brentford home game. Alain Saint-Maximin equalised with 15 minutes to go and what was the response? Nothing! A spare substitute to use, in a game we “must win” against a team we really needed to beat and once again, Gayle (a striker) is sat keeping the seats warm on the bench. What gives?
Similarly at home to Norwich City, when we really needed a second goal to kill the Canaries off, there he was again sat unused on the bench. Norwich got their equaliser against our tired ten men after Ciaran Clark’s brainless sending off. Wouldn’t it have been prudent to put a nippy striker on to run at Norwich for ten minutes or so?
Up next was Burnley. Now this one was slightly more forgivable as we actually won 1-0, so I can understand not wanting to upset the status quo, but once again there was a spare substitute and Gayle idle on the bench. Wouldn’t it have been a chance to give him a few minutes to get up to speed for the games ahead?
Yet again down at Leicester City where the roof fell in and we went down 0-4, Dwight Gayle mysteriously on the bench for the full 90 minutes. Or then again, how about when we played Liverpool at Anfield? Yep, on the bench again for the whole match. Or what about at home to Manchester City? On the bench again for the full game. Finally, for a whole seven minutes we saw Dwight come off the bench against Manchester United.
So it’s long gone past the time whereby some journalist must earn their corn and put their hand up and ask the questions about this situation, as when a player makes it onto the bench and doesn’t get a game even when we’re needing goals, it makes you wonder what the hell the point is in keeping him at the club. In total, this season Dwight Gayle has been named on the bench for 18 of Newcastle’s 19 Premier League matches and has played only 27 minutes in four very brief sub appearances. Whilst looking further back, the past 57 NUFC Premier League games have seen the striker start only four of them.
We’re increasingly looking like not getting a body in to play against Watford at the weekend and with no striker available, that frightens the sh.t out of me ahead of another one of those “must win” games. It’s been mooted that the reason Gayle wasn’t even on the bench against Cambridge was maybe due to COVID and that’s fair enough, but that’s overlooking the fact that there is still a problem with this player for whatever reason and it’s hampering the team.
Put simply, either Dwight Gayle starts playing, or the club pay him off and at least free up a squad space for a new arrival. Keeping him at the club and raising all these questions every week and not picking up points isn’t an option.
I can take losing and not winning games and I’ll take on board any fan that says Dwight Gayle is Championship standard, but when a manager has tools at his disposal, even if said tools aren’t the best…and yet still don’t use them, that’s tantamount to chucking league points down the drain. You wouldn’t think we were in a relegation battle would you?
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