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Opinion

Allan Saint-Maximin – How do you solve a problem that doesn’t need to be solved?

4 weeks ago
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Bruno Guimaraes is already, for a lot of us, one of the best players we have seen pull on a Newcastle shirt.

He has taken the limelight since January, chants of Bruno ring around SJP, he has his own flag, and Brazilian flags are now donned handsomely around SJP.

There was a guy before Bruno though, who everyone seems to have moved on from, but don’t rule him out just yet. You know who we’re talking about, and let’s be honest, he hasn’t been at his best lately.

What do we do about Allan Saint-Maximin? Well, nothing really.

Worth remembering that ASM in his first two seasons at Newcastle United pretty much, single-handedly at times, kept us in the division. Joe Willock took the limelight at the end of last season with his incredible and borderline fluke run of goals, but really it was ASM’s performances throughout the whole season that kept us up and took the heat off Bruce.

Bruce has a lot to thank Allan Saint-Maximin for. For most of his reign at NUFC, it was as if our only tactic was “10 men behind the ball, and if you do get the ball, then just pass it to Allan and lets see what happens”.

Don’t forget either, even this season, ASM has again single-handedly won points on his own. Big goals against Southampton, Leeds, Brentford, Man United and Watford. Without those goals, we’d be five points worse off, only seven ahead of Burnley (who have a game in hand) and most certainly still in a relegation battle.

I wouldn’t even argue that Allan Saint-Maximin has been poor since Howe came in. In fact, ASM’s performances in Howe’s first few games against Brentford, Norwich, Burnley, Man Utd and Watford, are as mentioned, a massive contributing factor in our run to safety right now.

So, what’s the problem?

There is no problem but for some reason, his poor run of form now has led to quite a few calling for his head, or at the very least, wondering if we can cash in on him in the summer, with the hope of a better replacement coming in.

When you think about it, that’s madness. Especially for a guy that up until very recently was by far and away our best player.

I think that ASM is adjusting now to playing in a proper system, under proper tactics, compared to Bruce’s approach of letting Allan Saint-Maximin do whatever he wants. That means ASM spends most of his time on the left-hand side of the field, has to do his bit in tracking back, and when he does get the ball, it’s often on that left flank where teams have very recently started to double up on him / isolate him.

He’s still creating things. Still making things happen. Is he frustrating? Absolutely, and his decision making in the final third as of late, has left a lot to be desired. He’s had a few shockers as of late but that doesn’t justify any calls for him to be left out the team.

Might I add, who would you leave him out of the team for?

I’m happy to say that most fans are fully behind ASM. That was telling the other Friday night against Wolves, when amid a poor and frustrating game, the Gallowgate sang his name in a moment when they might have been giving him pelters.

Ten minutes later, Allan Saint-Maximin would go on to play a key role in his flick to Joelinton who assisted Wood in winning the penalty.

Yes, ASM is in need of getting his mojo back and fans shouldn’t pretend that he is god’s gift to NUFC, however:

Is he by far one of our two best players? Yes

Does he have an attitude problem? No

Does he throw the towel in? No.

Can he improve his decision making in the final third? Yes

Can he work harder defensively when the chips are down? Yes.

Are those last two questions, plus his poor recent form, worth the hype about his position in the team? Absolutely not.

ASM is one of our best players. Just think of how fondly we look back on the likes of Ginola, and Robert, Hatem Ben Arfa too. ASM has a long way to go before he reaches the heights of the first two, or even HBA, but, as with all players of his ilk, he needs to be backed.

Perhaps we hold Allan Saint-Maximin to a higher standard than other players but that is because he has set his own high standards here. He set them himself with, at times, superhuman performances.

Let’s hope we see him back to his best soon… Howay Maxi!

HWTL

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonnyinsg

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