In a match where near-on every Newcastle United player failed to impress, Jonas Gutierrez was, in my opinion, the worst of the lot. I don’t like to single out players in this manner, but I feel his performance raised several questions which must be tackled.
Newcastle only managed to make 7 of their 34 crosses yesterday evening, and the majority of these wayward passes came from Gutierrez. Every time he had the ball, he became more and more predictable: he would dribble down the touchline, pull the ball back and knock the a cross in a long way short of his supposed target. When he has the ball, it seems as though he crosses merely for the sake of it without actually considering where the other players are.
It is very clear that, despite being brought to the club with attacking premises in mind, Gutiérrez has very much flattered to deceive on the goal-scoring and assist front – just 5 goals and 10 assists in 99 Premier League since his arrival from Spain!
In terms of creating chances, Jonas has been somewhat inconsistent, and a chance created every 86 mins of a game on average is hardly worth shouting about, which explains the low number of assists in his game.
Jonas’ cross production and accuracy has been inconsistent also, but what can be seen to have deteriorated is his production of successful dribbles per game – starting at over two per game in his first season to less than one per game on average this season.
I know that Gutierrez is perhaps one of the most loyal Newcastle players having staying at the club during the relegation period. But I have gradually become more and more skeptical of him over the years. I quite honestly feel that if we really want to challenge the best in the league and the best in Europe, we need to be putting out a balanced team that can beat the opposing defender, and make the make the most of out two towering strikers. At the moment the final ball is lacking and it is seriously harming us.
A lot of talk has been given towards a supposed new striker or central defender in January. But quite frankly we should be concentrating on strengthening out wide instead. The 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formations demand width from the two outside men, relying on the creation of space in the middle. But when we can’t make the link-up between the winger and the two strikers up top, not enough chances are going to be created.
I hate to be the guy who raises this concern about such a well-loved player, but I feel that if we really do wan’t to make progress in this league, and build upon the strong foundations that we provided last year, we have to be practical. Gutierrez is a squad player and nothing more.
Unless he can prove his worth in the games running up to Christmas, I feel we should be concentrating on bringing in a new winger.
What do you think? Should he be in the starting XI? If not, who could fill his position?