Newcastle United TRENDING TOPIC: Our writers discuss £21m Miguel Almiron, his goal drought, position and Magpies value
Two games into the Premier League season and already many are calling a crisis at Newcastle United. Should we really expect anything less?
Each week our Newcastle United writers Miles Starforth and Liam Kennedy will pick out on key talking point and discuss, at length, their views on the subject.
Trending this week is Miguel Almiron and his role in United's system.
What's changed with Miguel Almiron?MS: "The most obvious thing is his position. He’s been asked to play as a second striker in support of Joelinton.They’ve not yet gelled, but it’s very early days.Bruce wants to see him play higher up the pitch, but Almiron’s biggest asset is his pace – and the speed at which he can run with the ball at his feet – and that is best brought to bear from a deeper position on the counter-attack."LK: The player looked a real valuable addition to the Newcastle United line up last season – alongside Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon.His pace perfectly complemented the clever runs, movement and touch of Perez and the strength and presence of Rondon.Take those two away, with a shift in system, and he just does not look the same.He was excellent for half an hour against Arsenal, but there has been little since.
Is he living up to his £21million price tag?
MS: "I think we saw enough from Almiron last season to show that he was an astute signing, even at £21million.Almiron didn’t score a goal last season, but he carried the team up the pitch to the final third, where Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez were able to do the damage."
LK: Some may not agree, but I'd still have to say yes.
While he has not contributed in terms of goals and assists, he transformed United last season in their counter attack system.
And in today's market, £21million is hardly pushing the boat out – even if that may seem like a fortune at Newcastle.
Do you think the player is suited to playing as a 'striker'?
MS: "Not really. He can play that role, but he’s probably best suited to the position he had last season on one side of a three-man attack or as a midfielder or winger."
LK: “No. He is not a striker. It is clear to see.
His main asset is his pace and movement, and ability to beat a man.
Unless you tell him to play on the shoulder, which is also not his game, he needs to be used as a threat on the break.
Steve Bruce talked about wanting to get him on the ball further up the park – I'd say the opposite. You want him picking the ball up deeper to take you from A to B at speed.”
Club legend Alan Shearer has talked about switching him to the wing, do you think that could work?
MS: "That might well be better for Almiron, who would cause more problems with his pace. He can also put a in a good delivery."Almiron really suits a counter-attacking game plan away from home. Will Bruce take a similar approach to Benitez away from St James’s Park?"
LK: “I think this is the perfect solution.
He will get more time on the ball out wide and could really hurt defenders with that space.
As a striker you're required to score goals, drop him deeper and that pressure is relieved, somewhat.”
Would Almiron, and others, benefit from a shift in system from Steve Bruce's preferred 3-5-2?
MS: "Bruce’s system has worked for 45 minutes of the 180 United have played so far this season. He might want to give it more time, but certainly adjustments are needed, even if he wants to persevere with 3-5-2."
LK: “Bruce believes four at the back does not suit the defenders or midfielders he has at his disposal, to be honest this system does not suit any of the forward players either.
I'd be tempted to go back to a four at the back with Paul Dummett at left-back.
Yes, Fabian Schar will then be a bit of a square peg in a round hole – but at least Matt Ritchie, Almiron and others will then not be.”
Have Newcastle left themselves short of striker options this season?
MS: "They look a bit short now, with Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll sidelined and Joelinton nursing a hip problem. However, if Gayle and Carroll can return to fitness in the next month or so, then the options for Bruce will look a lot healthier."
LK: “On paper no, in reality yes.
If Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll can get fit, United can then add some Premier League experience to their forward ranks - at the moment it is very light on anything of the sort.
I think a lot of people, in these negative times, is quick to judge Almiron and Joelinton and others but I'd be tempted to give them some time.
Both of these players are still learning the English game and will get better – they just need a little time and help. That's where Carroll, in particular, could be invaluable.”