Miguel Almiron arrived at Newcastle United with a great deal of promise and excitement. Certainly, under Rafael Benitez, Almiron showed great potential and provided some eye catching performances. Though the Paraguayan international’s place in the starting eleven is now very much under threat.
Fast forward to the current campaign, Almiron appears to be a shadow of the player that arrived in January. The Paraguay international doesn’t appear to know what his role is under Steve Bruce, looking lost at times. It is a huge worry for Newcastle, there is no doubt that Almiron can be a key player for the club – However, Newcastle must play a different system to unlock Almiron’s skill set.
During his time with Atlanta United, Almiron played as a number 10 or on the left. Under Bruce, Almiron has been playing on the right, a position he is not very familiar with. In fact, Almiron has started in that position just seven times, four of which have been under Bruce. The other two occasions were in 2015 during his time with Lanus.
Bruce’s failure to identify Almiron’s favoured position is unsurprising to the majority of supporters who cringed at his appointment.
Perhaps taking Almiron out of the firing line may just take the pressure off his shoulders. With Allan Saint-Maximin now be pushing for a place in the starting line-up, Almiron’s place in the side is very much under threat.
Along with Saint-Maximin’s return to fitness, Christian Atsu has been one of Newcastle’s better performers so far this season. Almiron will most certainly be looking over his shoulder at the competition he now has to fend off. To do that, out of position or not, his performances must improve.
A lot has changed at Newcastle since the Paraguayan arrived. Not only did Rafael Benitez depart, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez followed. Almiron struck up a great understanding with Rondon and Perez, there was fantastic chemistry there. Losing three important figures, all three of whom helped Almiron settle in quickly has had a massive impact.
The language barrier can also be contributing to Almiron’s poor form. Benitez could be seen talking the Paraguayan through the game, barking out his instructions in Spanish. Along with Benitez, Almiron’s strike partners Rondon and Perez both spoke Spanish, making it a lot easier for Almiron on the pitch.
It is vital that Bruce identifies Almiron’s strengths and his favoured position, in doing so, Newcastle can be a huge threat going forward. The current set up is clearly not working and it is showing in the performances. The players are not comfortable, Bruce has to see that things must change if Newcastle are to stay up this season.
Playing a player of Almiron’s quality and importance out of position screams of tactical ineptness. Bruce has been in football management long enough to know when a system isn’t working or when a player isn’t happy in a position. A happy Almiron is playing the number 10 role or on the left. Benitez played the Paraguayan in both positions last season and the difference in performances are like chalk and cheese.
It remains to be seen whether Almiron will start against Leicester. However, the Paraguayan is a victim of a manager that has no tactical awareness. Almiron can be a huge player for Newcastle this season, Bruce just needs to play to his strengths.