The transformation of Jonas Gutierrez

On purchasing ‘flying’ Argentinian winger ‘Jonas’ from Real Mallorca in 2008, manager-at-the-time Kevin Keegan was quoted as saying, “He’s an exciting player and I’m sure our fans will love watching him.”

Keegan the added: “He has got it in him to be thought of every bit as much as David Ginola, definitely!”

Keegan signed Gutierrez with his typically attacking-minded tactics in place, expecting the wide man to get ‘bums off seats’ and give Newcastle the balance and forward threat they had craved for so long. And, in his earlier performances, the boy didn’t disappoint!

Toon fans soon got to see what he was capable of – that drive and guile to take players out of the game so easily, skilfully manoeuvring past fullbacks and producing (arguably temperamental) crosses for the frontmen.

However, his approach to English football has since changed. Whether by his own doing or down to management, Jonas is not considered a real attacking option at Newcastle these days, playing a more central role in midfield and rarely taking options to get into the final third.

NUFC_Stats looked into the numbers to see exactly what has changed since Gutierrez’s first season in English top flight football.

Jonas Gutierrez – Premier League Career

It is very clear that, despite being brought to the club with attacking premises in mind, Gutiérrez has very much flattered to deceive on the goal-scoring and assist front – just 5 goals and 10 assists in 99 Premier League since his arrival from Spain!

In terms of creating chances, Jonas has been somewhat inconsistent, but a chance created every 86 mins of a game on average is hardly worth shouting about, which explains the low number of assists in his game.

Jonas’ cross production and accuracy has been inconsistent also, but what can be seen to have deteriorated is his production of successful dribbles per game – starting at over two per game in his first season to less than one per game on average this season.

However, where it gets pretty ‘meaty’, is when pondering his ‘duelling’ statistics. In his first season in the Premier League, Gutierrez was throwing himself into everything – 3 tackles, 1 aerial and 18.3 ground duels per game. Over the next two seasons, those figures gradually depleted, until recently, where, not only have some reached their highest summits, but Jonas Gutierrez’s win percentage of his ‘battles’ have reached very pleasing heights. Throw into that an increase in pass accuracy over the years, and the criticism of a Newcastle winger slowly begins to transform into praise of a Toon combative midfielder!!

The days of Jonas beating full backs and creating a hatful of chances (if ever) have dispersed into the thick of the Tyne Fog, leaving a Pardew-coached, battling midfielder who slows the tempo of the game down when necessary, keeps possession and wins countless free kicks through superb shielding of the ball, balance and strength (Gutierrez was the most fouled player in the League last season and is again this season).

Gutierrez has been deployed of late as part of a holding midfield unit in the 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 shapes Pardew uses, with his instructions blatantly similar to that given to the likes of Tiote and Anita in terms of pitch coverage.

In his five games this season, Jonas has barely ventured into the opponents half and the below ‘heat map’ graphics of Jonas’ possession highlight that exact notion. There will be those that argue that as a left midfielder in a 4-4-2, Gutierrez should be playing higher, creating more – but, this is a player Pardew has obviously worked on behind the scenes on a new role, something he’s not going to change for one game.

This is mostly applicable when Hatem Ben Arfa is in the same team – HBA is not a ‘tracking’ player and NUFC need all they can get out of their mercurial Frenchman, so in set ups such as 4-4-2, there will be the license for him to get forward as much as possible. There must be compensation though and that’s where Jonas fits in.

Jonas – First 6 Premier League games
Jonas – Last 6 Premier League game

The ‘heat maps’ of Jonas’ first six Premier League games in the 2008/09 season compared to his last six are fairly startling! The Argentinian was very much a ‘loose cannon’ on his arrival, his play and position was sporadic and he ventured into the opposition’s half at every opportunity.

Of late, ‘SpiderMan’ rarely gets possession any further than the half way line – the graphic highlighting his transformation from a flying winger to a more combative and defensive minded midfielder.

So, what have we proved? Well, quite simply, it’s time to stop looking at Jonas as a provider. Alan Pardew has spotted traits in his South American that he has used to mould him into a more disciplined, stable player. Gone are the days, especially in the league and away from home, that Gutierrez will be expected to play as wide support to the likes of Ba and Cisse – Jonas is now an integral part of NUFC’s central midfield and/or cover and support to Davide Santon when playing more left afield.

It’s time to stop glancing at the goals and assists stats where this one is concerned – look instead at his position holding, passing, and more combative numbers.

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33 thoughts on “The transformation of Jonas Gutierrez

  1. Love Jonas 😯 ….. fecking good team man that sacrifices his own game to help out the team.. He would be a first choice for me every time if I were picking the team (Mike get me an 8 year contract too :mrgreen: )


  2. Honestly, I think Jonas has found his position in defensive midfield.

    He is strong on the ball, has the skill to handle being put under pressure and worm out of a tight spot.

    It also eliminates the weakest part of his game which is his crossing.

    He isn’t quick enough anymore to play as a winger, but for me (apart from one game where he played on the wing in the first half) he has been one of our best players this season.

    Him and Tiote in front of the back four provide excellent protection.

    I agree with Troy’s sentiments about Cabaye playing too deep. He needs to let Jonas and Tiote do the defending and he needs to get himself further up the pitch and support the strikers.


  3. __________________Krul___________________




    Ben Arfa_________Ba/Cisse____________Fergie

    Fergie would provide natural width and a good delivery. Ben Arfa could play in a free role out wide. WIth Tiote helping to protect the right side and Cabaye should be getting forward to support the lone striker. If he doesn’t like that role, a fiiter Vuckic could play ‘in-the-hole’, or Gosling if he could learn to finish.

    On current form, if playing a 4-4-2 I would pick two of Cabaye, Jonas, and Tiote, because I don’t they all like to sit deep and we need a central midfielder who will get forward. Gosling got slated on Wednesday but he seems to be the only midfield player willing to do this.

    For me Jonas is our form defensive midfielder at the moment.

    I would love to see Fergie given a run of games on the left. I think he good give Ba and Cisse, or even Shola the service they’ve been craving for… but you can’t find form if you are in and out of the team all the time.


  4. Just look at the fortunes of Santon and Enrique this season to see what Jonas brings to the team, Santon is flourishing from the freedom he gets from having someone sharing the dirty work on the left and has been one of our best players. While Enrique is back to his early days at sjp when he looked like he was going to burst into tears every five minutes totally lost (when he gets in the team that is)


  5. the problem with that line up JJ is that Fergie will only have one real target man to hit with those crosses from out wide…. Can’t see Cabaye or Benny heading too many home over a big centre half…


  6. Ye, Aussie
    I agree, which is why I mentioned Vuckic being ideal for the role if he could stay fit and find some form.

    I guess at the moment Fergie is best suited to a 4-4-2… So how about…



    Ben Arfa_____Tiote_______Jonas________Fergie


    On current form I’d have to back Jonas ahead of Cabaye in midfield.

    It is a problem for me that none of the central midfield are the type to get forward like a Lampard or a Gerrard or Scholes or Toure or Fellaine because it means we just don’t have any real goal threat from midfield.

    Gosling is our only true box to box midfielder, and I honestly think with a run of games he could be a good player for this reason. But others don’t seem to share my thoughts.


  7. CC
    As I mentioned with Gosling.

    I think Enrique’s form is also a lot to do with him being in and out of the team at Liverpool.
    Some players thrive on competition. Others thrive on knowing their place is secure and one mistake won’t see them benched.
    Enrique always had Jonas but was still very uncertain in his first few games.
    Once he got a run of games he was superb.

    I actually think the year in the Championship was brilliant for some of our players because we had to cut down the squad and it gave players a some regular football that they otherwise may never have gotten.

    In fact, I think if we weren’t relegated. Andy Carroll would have been a nobody today because he would never have been given and opportunity.


  8. always rated jonas 100% effort every game imo does a lot of un-seen work
    agree with AMF would aways be on my team sheet, i see that hoilett went to qpr for 3mill with 1 mil add-ons,not a bad buy for that money imo


  9. JJ, not a bad line up but I would rather our width came from our right/left backs… So if you were determined to put Fergie in the team, I would have him at LB and swing Santon over to RB.. Then I would have them push forward at every opportunity and we would have ample cover from our mids…


  10. Ice, I’ve always said you were a clever bloke 😉 😆
    Can’t say the same for Richie and Big Dave tho 😆 😆


  11. Good read mate.
    With him being the most fouled player in the league again you really wonder why we don’t seem to have worked enough on our set plays. when we got promoted so many of our goals seemed to be Jonas winning a freekick/corner, barton whipping the ball in, knock down to Carroll for nolan to wallop in.
    We haven’t developed any new set piece system since them. no use Jonas being.effective at winning free kicks if we can’t do anything with them!


  12. Agree entirely mate, his role has changed. Even the player himself said he was studying the centre midfield role a few weeks back.

    People that go on about Jonas’ lack of end product confuse me. It’s like it’s the be all and end all of everything but really there is so much more he brings to the team. If he did what he did with and AND had goals/end product he wouldn’t be with us, end of.


  13. Statto good read and about time we had a thread on one of the hardest workers in the team.
    As I have been saying for the last couple of season when Jonas has been getting abused about his lack of end product, instead of watching to see what he doesn’t do try watching what he does do.
    He is as I say the hardest worker in the team, will play anywhere he’s asked and has only missed no more than a handful of games.

    Toonsy have fun but dont be drinking too much as you know what your like after a few wine gums 😆


  14. Ice 😀 I wish it were me with that extra money mate 😉 Needles? are you getting acupuncture or are you getting a jab 😯 for some other reason?


  15. He’s been a great little player for Newcastle, he was never going to be another “Ginola”, he’s never been a goalscorer…or much of an assist player for that matter. Great defensively, works his arse off and never complains or rocks the boat….give him an 8 yr contract I say 😉 😆


  16. Bloody hell Big Dave you don’t half sink the boots in given half a chance.. you never see me carrying on like that 🙂 🙂 🙂


  17. AMF thought you knew our dave is a artist ie; thats his trade a tatoo artist,heard from richie hes a bit evil with them needles from time to time 😀


  18. Ahh now it becomes clear.. it only takes me an hour or so to pick up subtle humour Ice 🙂 🙂

    Richie, have you met my wife? 🙂 🙂 🙂


  19. Always liked Jonas, there’s just something funny and likable about him, summarised probably by when he scored that goal at Chelsea via a Ryan Taylor free kick which bounced off his arse. He played it cool initially but then ran over to the ref and made sure he gave him the goal 😆

    I guess it’s always been debatable whether he was a good winger but he’s always been a good player for us regardless, especially considering he’s often played more than anyone else in the squad yet rarely looks jaded. I do think he improves his game a bit with a bit of competition-like when Benny first arrived and was on the left, it certainly fired Jonas up a bit but in his central midfield role he is brilliant. It’s nice to know that we have defensive midfielders like Tiote and Jonas-who can track, tackle, are pacey, can dribble, and can both score the odd wonder goals. Compare that to the days of Smith and Butt 😆


  20. Aussie…just an educated guess as she’s married to Mr Negativity…unless it’s a Yin-Yang type thing 😉 😆


  21. Jonas is one of my fav players. I love his passion for Newcastle. I still remember him pinning Enrique to the ground and shoving some of the grass from the pitch into Enrique’s mouth when Enrique scored a goal for us!


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