It may not have had the beginning or middle that Newcastle United might have been hoping for, but their end to the 2020/2021 Premier League season was certainly something to lift the spirits at St James’ Park.
The Magpies rounded off the campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win away from home against Fulham on the final day of the season, with goals from Joe Willock – his seventh consecutive strike in the Premier League – and Fabian Schar enough to seal all three points.
While Steve Bruce’s side can head into the summer off the back of some promising season-ending form, one man who flattered to deceive on the day was Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Frenchman admitted in recent days that were Newcastle not to match his ambitions, and fighting for something other than avoiding relegation season after season, then he would have to consider his options.
Given the rapport that the star winger appears to have built up with the club’s fans, everyone on Tyneside will be hoping that the clash against Fulham wasn’t his final game in a Magpies shirt.
If it were, then it definitely fell flat.
As per Sofascore, he had fewer touches than goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and made less passes than the goalkeeper too (just ten), and that was a real indication of how hard he found it to just get himself into the game, with Fulham’s back-line doing well to stop the supply line into him.
And then, when he did get the ball, he struggled to do much with it, failing to complete any of his three attempted dribbles – a far cry from the whopping 15 that he completed against Sheffield United earlier in the week.
Whether it was because of the slight injury that Bruce confirmed in his pre-match press conference was plaguing the Frenchman, he just seemed well off the pace, and was far too easily bullied off the ball, losing six of his nine total duels on the day.
And, writing in his post-match player ratings for The Shields Gazette, Liam Kennedy gave him a five and said: “Nothing working for him. Everyone has those kind of afternoons. His runs were blocked, his skills anticipated and struggled to make the ball stick up top.”
Saint-Maximin is far better than what he showed on Sunday, and the hope will now be that he doesn’t pack his bags to leave St James’ Park over the course of the summer.