Newcastle’s Mikel Merino reacts to criticism from Graeme Souness

Newcastle Uniteds Merino and West Ham Uniteds Michail Antonio battle for the ball.
Newcastle Uniteds Merino and West Ham Uniteds Michail Antonio battle for the ball.

Newcastle United’s Mikel Merino says he paid no attention to criticism from Graeme Souness.

Merino, signed on loan from Borussia Dortmund last month, had his best game yet for the club in Saturday’s 3-0 home win over West Ham United.

The 21-year-old, brought to Newcastle to challenge Jonjo Shelvey for a place in Rafa Benitez’s side, partnered Isaac Hayden in midfield.

“I enjoyed this match a lot,” said Merino. “It was very important to get that first victory after two losses to begin with.

“It was important to win in front of our people. The main thing is we played as a team, we played together, and the things we are doing are in the right way so we have to keep playing, keep pushing and the wins will come.

Merino has already shown he has an eye for a pass.

It was important to win in front of our people. The main thing is we played as a team, we played together, and the things we are doing are in the right way so we have to keep playing, keep pushing and the wins will come

Rafa Benitez

“I like to give the passes to my team-mates, because I think it’s the best way to win matches,” said the Spain Under-21 international.

“Precise passes and to go forward, that is what I try. Sometimes you misplace passes, because you take risks in order to give a good pass to someone in front.

“But when the pass is good, it creates a clear chance for our team so I try to give these passes.

“If I fail with half of it, then it doesn’t matter because I know the other half will be good chances.

“That’s what I try to do. I have to learn a lot from Rafa, from the league, I’m only 21, and I think I have a lot of things to improve.

“But by playing I will learn and I will become a more complete footballer.”

On playing – and winning – at St James’s Park, Merino added: “It’s incredible.

“It’s incredible when you win, because the crowd is really happy and in this game the crowd was really with the team, which is something we know we really need.

“It was important to win before the two-week (international) break.”

Former Newcastle manager Souness labelled Merino “weak” for failing to stop Aaron Mooy scoring Huddersfield Town’s winner six days earlier.

Asked about Souness’ comments, Merino said: “I heard something, but I don’t really give importance to it.”