Yesterday saw Eddie Howe replacing Bruno Guimaraes by moving his fellow Brazilian, Joelinton back into the centre of midfield and playing Allan Saint-Maximin on the left side of the attack as Newcastle were held to a draw by West Ham.
It was a move that most fans had predicted would be the most likely solution to dealing with Bruno’s suspension as it was too soon to throw Anthony Gordon into the starting eleven if other options were available. That’s how Eddie Howe works and we’ve all come to understand that.
However, it seemed that there was a general consensus on Twitter throughout the game that ASM is not the man for us. His performance was way off what we expect from him. To give credit where it’s due, you could see that he was actually trying to play Eddie’s way, he was tracking back, he even made a superb tackle on the edge of our own box, but going forward he gave us nothing. He still wants to take on that one more defender which nine times out of ten results in a turnover of possession, his crosses rarely find the mark, he picks the wrong pass or opts to shoot when a better option is on the table. We saw almost all of these bad traits yesterday.
That stat is more an indictment on the whole team than a positive on ASM.
— Ash (@harrichun) February 4, 2023
Then just after the hour mark, Anthony Gordon replaces ASM and looks like a breath of fresh air. Exciting one-touch passes, a sublime through ball for Callum Wilson to run onto which looked like a certain goal were it not for an amazing tackle from Nayef Aguerd. He was busy, he roamed all over the pitch looking for the ball, looking to help out his colleagues. He looked a different gravy.
Now, Howe needs to decide if ASM’s poor show and Gordon’s superb cameo were enough to force him into making that change at the weekend, or if he sticks with Saint-Maximin in the hope that he was just rusty and that Gordon was using “Debut Fuel” to increase his performance.
Personally, I would go with Gordon. We’ve paid top dollar for him so we should use him. For me, this was just another indicator that Maxi’s time is up at Newcastle. It also doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that the arrival of Helios coincided with his dip in form and fitness. Maybe focus on your job for now, Allan, and put your time into Helios when you retire, eh?
I know this comes across like I don’t like Saint-Maximin, and that’s not true, I love the guy and I’ll never forget how much he has done for us in the past, but the bottom line is, he doesn’t fit Howe’s style of playing and it has knocked his game off … and Helios hasn’t helped matters.