When the news broke of Jonas Gutiérrez’s impending departure to Norwich City on loan, I can’t be alone in saying that this provoked an unexpected reaction within me.
While he was never the most talented, spectacular, or headline-grabbing player for Newcastle United the sight of him in the yellow and green of the Canaries just didn’t sit well. This is because the enigmatic Argentinian offered a quality which has become incredibly highly-valued by those deprived of success, such as ourselves.
Despite criticisms having been levelled at his playing ability, Jonas’ graft, determination and tireless hard-work down the left flank for five years means that he is held in high regard by those on Tyneside. In Jonas, we had something which is becoming less and less common in modern football: a player who really ‘gets’ the club.
Of course one would expect this from local players such as Shearer, Beardsley and the like, but for a foreign player to come to Newcastle and seem to truly grasp what it means to wear the black and white stripes is incredibly rare, which is why Jonas’ time here should be cherished.
Thus, I decided to look back on Gutiérrez’s five and a half seasons at the Toon, and pinpoint 5 defining moments in his Newcastle career.
In a season which began with so much promise but ended in such heartbreak, Jonas’ debut offered real encouragement for Newcastle fans. The aforementioned grit of the Argentinian came to the fore in a battling 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, with his powerful running at the Manchester United back line, coupled with relentless tracking back. Allan Hansen remarked on Match of the Day that evening that Gutiérrez was “the most impressive Premier League debutant” on the opening day of the season: certainly a performance that gave us a sign of what to expect.
After relegation to the Championship in 2009, Jonas’ second goal for the Club came in March of 2010 in a 6-1 thrashing of Barnsley: significant because it was the first to be celebrated with the unveiling of Jonas’ trademark Spiderman mask. This celebration really helped him to endear himself to the fans after a difficult first season, earning him both the nickname ‘Spiderman’ and a chant to that effect.
Okay, this isn’t a moment as such. But it is really impossible to pinpoint Jonas’ development as a player any more specifically than our season in the Championship. After a tough start at the Club, Jonas was able to settle properly and find his feet during a season in a confident, winning team, against lesser opposition. Arguably the biggest positive to come out of that season for the Club as a whole was the incredible progress of left-sided, Spanish-speaking pair, Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez. Indeed, Jonas picked up personal accolades as well as the Championship trophy: crowned Championship player of the Month in April 2010.
4. World Cup
Although he will undoubtedly be followed this summer by World Cup Shola and (we can dream) World Cup Willo, Jonas was one of very few Newcastle players appearing at the 2010 World Cup: testament to the incredible season he had in securing promotion for the Magpies. Although he was forced to play out of position, at full-back, his time on the international stage raised Jonas’ performances to another level.
As the seasons wore on and seasoned pros like Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton et al were shipped out, Jonas was given the responsibilities of a senior player in the dressing room. His newfound importance to the team was underlined as he was given the captain’s armband for a string of games in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, during the 2011/12 season. This really put the seal on Jonas’ vital position in the squad at that time, and how he will be remembered by the fans.
Either way, it’s a real shame to see Jonas leave; it signals the first deal Newcastle have made this January. Betting Sites have been speculating on potential deals and hopefully it won’t be too long before Newcastle are welcoming players through the door, as opposed to sending them on their way.
Ultimately, Jonas is potentially not gone forever. This deal is just a loan. Rather like taking a break from a relationship, 99% of the time it signals the beginning of the end, but I’ll retain that 1% hope.