Alan Shearer’s praise for Bruno Guimaraes and his pivotal role in Newcastle United’s evolution under Eddie Howe
It may be a new season with Newcastle United welcoming a few new players this summer - but it was a familiar face that ruled the show against Nottingham Forest.
A thumping strike from Fabian Schar and a sumptuous effort from Callum Wilson sealed the points on Saturday, but it was the performance of Bruno Guimaraes that had supporters talking as they exited a buoyant St James’s Park.
With Forest setting up to frustrate the Magpies in attack, Newcastle needed the guile of Guimaraes to help unlock the small spaces that their opponents left in their compact defensive shape.
Highlighted by his inch-perfect pass that threaded Miguel Almiron through on-goal, an effort that Dean Hendeson tipped onto the post, Guimaraes constantly posed questions of the Forest defence and was always positive when on the ball.
The Brazilian made the most amount of passes and created the most chances on Saturday afternoon - a stat that was highlighted on Match of the Day by Alan Shearer, who was effusive in his praise for the 24-year-old.
“He was superb,” Shearer said on Match of the Day.
“Man of the match for me was Bruno.
“The way he handles that ball under pressure and is able to ping that ball into the forward players, he’s so comfortable on the ball, particularly if you give him this amount of space.
“His weight of pass was superb and the way he controlled that midfield.
“They got into so many good areas because of his ability, he never looks flustered and [always] looks in control of the ball - he never panics.
“Have a look at his vision before the ball even comes to him. He looks over his right shoulder, then again over his left shoulder and he knows exactly where the pass is going - he’s really, really good at that.
“Newcastle have got a really, really talented player there and the fans love him - and rightly so. I thought he was absolutely magnificent.”
As mentioned, Newcastle were frustrated by their opponents and despite possession and territorial dominance, they couldn't turn this into goals during the first-half.
However, unlike in previous seasons where supporters in the stands may have become a bit nervy, having someone like Guimaraes in the middle and dictating play calmed most of the nerves.
There was never a worry that the Magpies would lose control of Saturday’s game - and that came because of Guimaraes’ influence in the middle of the park.
As Eddie Howe revealed post-match, the team’s display against Forest is something he wants his side to repeat in the future.
Howe said: “I think the performance would be a great example of where we want the team to be on a consistent basis.
“You have a battle to try to impose your style on the opposition, and I thought we did that well.”
United’s 62% possession, 23 efforts – 10 of which were on target – and almost double the amount of successful passes than their opponents is certainly evidence that they are developing an identity under Howe - and Guimaraes’ display at the weekend certainly shows that he is playing a pivotal role in helping this evolution.