Yoshinori Muto is becoming a bit of an enigma.
On the one hand he seems to have a good attitude, is always praised for his performances in training and can *sometimes* look quite sharp and energetic the odd time we see him in a black and white shirt. Yet, on the flip side, Steve Bruce is now the second manager to use him so sparingly, with him luck to get a few minutes from the bench these days, never mind a start!
If he’s going to make it at Newcastle United, the latter needs to change – and tonight seems like the perfect opportunity.
After all, Carroll won’t start twice in four days, Joelinton seems likely to play out wide with Ritchie unlikely to be risked and Saint-Maximin tipped to be rested and I’m not sure Gayle has justified a start after several BIG missed either side of that goal against Villa.
I’ve got a feeling Gayle will play, but with Bruce hinting that he’ll rotate heavily and confirming the ex-Mainz man still has a ‘part to play’ after his beind-closed-doors goal against Boro a few weeks back, isn’t this the perfect chance to see what he can do?
Bruce even admitted recently that the Japanese striker “hadn’t been given a fair crack of the whip” since arriving for £9m a few summer’s ago and trains every day “like it’s his last”, but when will he actually get a crack? He turns 28 next month and will be moved on soon if something doesn’t change.
Perhaps Bruce’s old formation never suited Muto, with him lacking the power, presence or hold up skills to be a lone striker, however this new 4-2-3-1 system surely means he could play in the hole? Let’s be honest, he couldn’t be any more anonymous or frustrating than Almiron’s been over the past two games if he did!
It’s also worth noting he was our best player in one of the first games Bruce watched as Newcastle United boss, scoring in a 1-0 win over West Ham at the Asia Trophy – yet he’s made just TWO league starts all season since then.
He’s not looked up to it at times and there’s clearly a reason why both Benitez and Bruce have picked a series of pretty average strikers over him each week for almost two years now, however we’ll never truly know if he’s up to it if he’s never given more than 5 minutes from the bench.
Fail to feature tonight and it begs the question, is he just extremely unlucky or simply not good enough to cut it at this level?
After all, if he’s not playing on a night like tonight, I’m not sure he ever will for us at Premier League level.