Despite being one of the stars of Newcastle’s promotion from the Championship a few years ago, Dwight Gayle hasn’t had much impact at Premier League level.
The striker was brought in by Rafa Benitez back in 2016, and notched up 23 goals in 32 games back in the 2016/2017 campaign when they were in English football’s second division.
The following season however saw his goals completely dry up, with just six in 35. Despite that however, Steve Bruce was quick to insist that Gayle would have a big role to play just last summer, saying: “Since I came in, I’ve told him ‘Dwight, get yourself fit, and you can be part of this going forward. You’re only as good as up top, and we’ve got some serious options up there now. Dwight could be a big part of that. I just hope he gets fit and proves that.”
And then, towards the end of last month, Bruce once again waxed lyrical about the centre-forward. He said: “I’ve said on record that I’ve tried to buy him three times. I’ve said all along that I want him to stay fit because as you saw with the way he scored his goal today, he’s got that crucial thing of being able to score. He’s got the knack, and when you’ve got that, it’s invaluable. Let’s hope he stays fit.”
Against West Ham on Sunday afternoon, Gayle proved his manager absolutely right.
Despite only being on the fringes of the game – he had just 25 total touches and only made 13 successful passes – Gayle made his presence known in key moments for the Magpies.
He of course played a huge role in Jonjo Shelvey’s equaliser for Newcastle’s second of the match, and showed his selflessness and creativity by providing two key passes and creating one big chance.
Gayle also didn’t shirk any of the physical battles, winning an impressive five out of his ground duels, and drawing three fouls from the Hammers defence too.
The striker is a real live-wire in and around the box, and Newcastle just seemed to be far more dangerous with his more energetic style of play than having Joelinton play through the middle – in the end, the Magpies registered 11 total shots on goal.
He may not have gotten on the score-sheet, but Gayle proved just why Bruce hailed him as “invaluable”.