Miles Starforth: What we can – and can’t – expect from Miguel Almiron at Newcastle United
All being well, we’ll get a first glimpse of Miguel Almiron in black and white at Molineux.
Almiron, signed on transfer deadline day from Atlanta United, trained with his new Newcastle United team-mates for the first time yesterday.
The 24-year-old is the one Rafa Benitez really wanted last month.
Newcastle, in Benitez’s view, need Almiron. Now.
The Paraguay international, an attacking midfielder with pace and good feet, offers something different.
Benitez, however, won’t expect too much, too soon.
“We need Almiron right now, but we have not signed him just for this month,” said United’s manager last week.
Still, fans can hope.
Remember Faustino Asprilla’s debut away to Middlesbrough 23 years ago?
Newcastle were trailing 1-0 at the time, but, sparked into life by Asprilla, Kevin Keegan’s title-chasing side fought back and won 2-1.
Asprilla turned Middlesbrough full-back Chris Morris inside out for the equaliser, scored by Steve Watson.
Les Ferdinand netted the winner.
Asprilla recently retold the story to FourFourTwo – and revealed he’d had a glass of wine before the game.
“It’s true – I was in Parma, waiting for the papers so I could play in England,” said Asprilla, who now lives on a ranch in his native Colombia.
“Keegan called me on Thursday to say he’d send a private jet so I could watch the game. Then on Friday I got the papers, but I was still just going to watch.
“On Saturday, they took me to lunch in the club hotel, and I ordered wine, because in Italy that’s what we had. I wasn’t allowed to drink Coke in Italy – they’d fine me!
“So I drank wine, but I never liked it, so I mixed it with water. Then Keegan said ‘get changed just in case’, then ‘warm up’, then ‘you’re on!’.
“I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t even prepared! Luckily it all went very well.”
Almiron – who now has his papers following a visit to Paris – should be better prepared if he gets on against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Benitez, however, is right – we can’t expect too much.
As such, the success of Almiron and left-back Antonio Barreca this season can’t only be judged on their own performances.
It will also be measured by the performances of the likes of Ayoze Perez and Paul Dummett – the players they have been brought to compete with – and the performances of the team itself.
“We’re in a better position,” said Benitez.
“These new faces mean the rest of the players have to compete. It’s always important to have people thinking they have to do better.”
The arrivals of Alirmon and Barreca lifted the mood on Tyneside. They should also raise the standards on the pitch – starting at Molineux.