The Paraguayan reporter, who now works at beIN SPORTS USA, has followed Almiron closely throughout his career and spoke to us in depth about the former MLS star following his move from America earlier in the year.
This week, we’ve reached out to Roberto once again to gain his thoughts on the Paraguayan’s struggles so far this season, with him believing he’s being played in the wrong position by Steve Bruce.
Here’s what he had to say during our Q&A:
Q1) Almiron is without a goal in 16 games for NUFC as you know. Are you starting to get concerned?
“It is indeed a cause of concern to see a lack of effectiveness in front of goal from Almiron since joining back in January.
“It has been quite different for him considering that he was bought by Rafa Benitez and convinced to join the club back then. To see him do well in that second half of last season proves that under a new manager and in a new system, it was going to be tough from the start.
“I feel as if under Steve Bruce, he has been unable to produce and demonstrate his capability because you can see he’s almost trying too hard to make something happen (like score his first goal), so it has been concerning six games into the start of a new season.”
Q2) His energy and enthusiasm is great to see, but fans are starting to get frustrated with his final ball, missed chances and lack of composure in key moments. The ‘headless chicken’ line has been thrown about by some fans as a result. How would you respond to that criticism?
“I would say to those that believe in such criticism to not forgot what would have happened had he not join the club during the winter..
“Even though the team was different, Almiron provided that spark to help the team move forward and create chances onto goal which eventually helped them achieve safety. It’s no surprise that in today’s modern game, the expectations are intensified tremendously, especially for those that go to the Premier League because of the level of game there.
“Talent doesn’t go away in a couple months and people have every right to make their own opinions and criticisms, which is normal, but I feel as if though he still plays a crucial part in the team week in and week out.”
Q3) He bagged 13 goals and 11 assists in America the season before he arrived at St James’ Park, but he’s often froze in front of goal or rushed his pass so far this season. Do you believe his final product is a big issue? Is he capable of weighing in with the goals & assists needed to keep us up?
“As I’ve said in my previous answer, talent doesn’t go away just like that in a couple of months.
“Yes, the finishing product is one that has to be improved because of what he provided in the United States but also in previous leagues like Argentina and Paraguay. But it’s always been like that even when playing for the national team.
“He just scored his first ever goal for Paraguay against Jordan this month, so clearly there is that ambition to score.
“I think unless he is played in a different system where he feels more comfortable in and useful to go forward and create or score, then I think that’s where he’s at his most deadly.”
Q4) As it stands, things just aren’t working for him – no matter how hard he tries! What does Steve Bruce need to do to get the best out of him?
“I think if Almiron is shifted more to a central role or onto the left where he played most of his career in, then I think that’s where you can get the best out of him.
“In these six games that he’s played, it’s clear that playing on the right isn’t his best position. Give him more freedom so that he can work well with Jetro Willems or Matt Richie on the left side. That’s where he can produce the goods.”
Q5) Finally, the Chronicle confirmed last week that we’re now tracking Josef Martinez – Miggy’s former strike partner at Atlanta. Do you think he’d be a big hit in the PL and what would his arrival mean for Almiron?
“I think given he already has the experience in Europe and the level of production he’s deeply contributed at Atlanta, I think it can work well.
“You have that familiarity with Almiron and I think that connection will be one that is demonstrated as something that can easily happen, but at the same time I don’t think it’ll happen.
“You’ve just signed Joelinton as your record signing so maybe it’s better to focus on the Brazilian and Paraguayan working together in order to produce something special at Newcastle for the remaining part of the season.”
Roberto makes one particularly good point here. It’s easy to criticise Almiron, but even easier to forget the impact he had last season and the way he transformed the team to help keep us up earlier this year.
Yes he’s been poor this season and yes he’s looking severely under confident in front of goal – those concerns can’t be ignored – however I do feel that some of the criticism is harsh and over the top.
Am I worried? Definitely. But I also believe he is a good player and someone who’ll be flying once he gets that all important first goal.