This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, John Hartson has insisted there is “quality” in the Newcastle squad, pointing to one man in particular who could “step up” to help Steve Bruce.
Hartson gave a special shoutout to the Longstaff brothers after their performance against Manchester United, saying Newcastle fans “love a local hero”, but he was quick to draw praise to Allan Saint-Maximin.
Asked if the Frenchman could replace Ayoze Perez’s flair and skill, he told Football FanCast: “He’s a box of tricks, he’s powerful, he can cause problems. He gave Man United all sorts of problems.
“So Steve Bruce is looking for one or two of those players now to step up and to help him. It’s okay being a manager and going in and putting your stamp on it but you’re only as good as your players.”
He continued: “I think Newcastle showed at the weekend that they’ve got quality in the team.”
Reason prevails at last. While we can certainly sympathise with Newcastle fans after a summer of frustration, some of the doom and gloom surrounding the club was way over the top, and they certainly have enough quality to keep them in the Premier League.
Signed from OGC Nice this summer for £16.5m, Saint-Maximin may well be the biggest source of that quality, as he completed a dribble every 19.8 minutes last season, placing him second in Europe behind the one and only Lionel Messi (19.2).
His big weakness at the moment is of course his end product, scoring just six league goals last term from 75 shots (8%), but he did indeed terrorise the Red Devils last weekend, setting up Jetro Willems to provide Matty Longstaff’s goal with a lung-busting run, one of four dribbles he completed on the day.
If the 22 year-old can “step up” and add some goals to his breathtaking skill on the ball, he could well be the man to save both Newcastle’s season and Bruce’s future at the club.