Yoshinori Muto was given his full debut by Rafa Benitez in the defeat to Nottingham Forest last night. The Japanese international started his first match for the club after substitute appearances against Spurs, Cardiff and Chelsea in the league.
Chronicle journalist Chris Waugh wasn’t particularly impressed with what he saw of the 26-year-old before he was substituted for Jacob Murphy, stating that both youngsters Sean Longstaff and Jamie Sterry performed better:
“Muto, on the other hand, was largely ineffective up front. He struggled to trap possession and, though he was a willing runner, his team-mates rarely found him – though he should have won a free kick on the edge of the area when he was upended by Tendayi Darikwa.
The Japan striker will improve, but he was overshadowed by Longstaff and Sterry in this match.”
It’s not easy to come into a side which is much-changed and lacking in fluidity. Some of the players hadn’t played together before and combined with a lack of match sharpness, it was always going to be a tough evening.
For his part, Muto did demonstrate his pace and work rate, but there was very little in the way of service, and he should, at least, be happy to get his first start.
Still, he will need to improve if he wants to replace Perez as a first team starter. The Spaniard was lively when he came on and should have had a penalty in the closing moments which could have made it 2-2.