In what was a topsy-turvy game at St James’ Park, Newcastle’s valiant efforts went unrewarded as they slipped to an agonising 4-3 defeat at home to Manchester City.
Steve Bruce’s side let go of the proverbial handbrake and went after the recently-crowned champions of England, and took the lead on two separate occasions, only for Ferran Torres to extinguish their hopes with a fine hat-trick.
And while much of the Magpies’ performers on the night stood up to be counted, one man who really let his manager down, was Federico Fernandez.
The Argentine only recently returned to the first-team fold after a couple of months out with a thigh muscle strain, and looked all at sea against Pep Guardiola’s side’s free-flowing attack.
As per Sofascore, he made zero tackles and interceptions over the course of the game, and competed in just two duels, winning one.
Fernandez just looked a touch slower than everyone else in either getting to City’s attackers or reacting to danger, while he also had fewer touches than goalkeeper Martin Dubravka too.
He finished the game with a 5.9 match rating as per Sofascore, which was by far the lowest of any outfield player on the pitch.
And, writing in his post-match player ratings for The Shields Gazette, Liam Kennedy gave him a five, saying: “Looked a yard off the pace. Second to every ball. Since returning from injury it’s not been the best of runs in the side for the usually reliable Argentine.”
With his contract on Tyneside coming to an end this summer, and The Athletic claiming that his long-term future is in limbo, there’s a real decision for Bruce to make in these last couple of games.
The Athletic said: “Fernandez, however, does not have another extension clause in his contract, as Newcastle already enacted that option 12 months ago. Instead, fresh terms need to be agreed upon and, while preliminary talks have taken place with his representatives, a new deal has not yet been confirmed.
“Given the Argentinian is 32, Newcastle will be reluctant to hand him a multi-year contract, particularly considering the muscular problems he has faced since recovering from COVID-19. Fernandez is believed to be receptive to staying, though, and further talks are expected to take place.”
With his recent form, and uncertain future, surely Bruce would be better off taking Fernandez out of the team and perhaps giving an opportunity to one of the club’s academy talents?
The Magpies have nothing to play for now given that they have already avoided relegation from the Premier League this season, and Bruce could hand valuable first-team minutes to those who could really make a long-term career at St James’ Park, instead of Fernandez.
The Argentine shouldn’t play again this season.