If you’re Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce or Joelinton, Isaac Hayden’s latest comments about Salomon Rondon will be pretty damning.
The NUFC midfielder claims ‘people don’t realise’ just how influential the Venezuelan was last season, practically admitting that we can’t play Rafa Benitez’s old 5-4-1 / 5-2-2-1 system nearly as well without his presence up top.
Speaking to the Chronicle, here’s what Hayden’s had to say in an honest interview:
“People don’t understand. They probably think you’re footballers so you can play whatever system the manager wants,”
“But when you have played the same rigid system for over a year with no games to change it because the manager came in late – he didn’t really have a chance to do a great deal with the squad – it is always difficult.
“People don’t realise last season the reason why the formation worked so well was because Salomon Rondon was a massive part of that. You could hit the ball 40 yards to his chest and he would knock four players off the ball. We don’t have that this season.
“That’s maybe a reason why things haven’t worked as well in that formation. We have tried to find a formula with different players, playing the same way, and managed to get some good results playing that way. For whatever reason, it hasn’t worked in the last few weeks. You can see there are positive signs there and to work on for the future.”
Saying ‘we don’t have that this season’ regarding a player to hold up the ball is pretty damning if you’re Joelinton – and those that sanctioned a £40m move for the Brazilian Bruce is struggling to fit into his Newcastle side.
Rondon’s wage demands may have been big, but a £16m release clause should’ve been an absolute no brainer once he put in countless outstanding all-round displays, bagged 12 goals and 7 assists and won our player of the season award as a result.
He brought others into play, worked tirelessly and showed no sign of declining. In fact, this was the best we’d ever seen the striker in England after several years in the Premier League. Yet, it seemed we never had any intention of signing him permanently and instead had our hearts set on a big money move for an unproven talent who was always going to be big risk.
It’s not Steve Bruce’s fault we signed Joelinton over Rondon, but the fact he’s tried to play the former Hoffenheim star like he’s a battering ram with Rondon’s hold-up play sums up the mess from top to bottom.